Sports Collectors Daily

1904 Christy Mathewson Photo Leads off RMY Sale

A rare 1904 photograph of Baseball Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, believed to have been among the earliest baseball images taken by legendary photographer Charles Conlon, is among the headliners in the newly-launched February Premier sale at RMY Auctions.

The 5”x 6 ½” original dates from 1904 and is among the most striking Mathewson images ever found. It is attracting strong collector interest in a major auction of vintage news photos being offered online this month.  The photo was first offered at auction in June of 2014 when a buyer paid over $6,000.   

Mathewson was 23 or 24 years old at the time, but had already established himself as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers. That season, the Bucknell graduate finished 33-12 with an earned run average of 2.03.

The silver gelatin original may have been taken by Conlon during his first assignments, which were to photograph members of the Giants.  The young Factoryville, PA pitcher is pictured in his uniform and warmup sweater in head and shoulders portrait. The photo has no stamps or identifying marks on the back, but bears a strong resemblance to the work that was done by Conlon during the first part of the 20th century.   

The photograph shows some wear, including two creases, some light pinholes and has clearly been used for editorial work (note Mathewson’s name and the number ‘9’ on the front). Photo editors at a newspaper scraped away past of the photo’s original mount for easier storage.  

Mathewson led the Giants to the 1904 National League pennant and enjoyed an even better year in 1905 when he won pitching’s Triple Crown and led the Giants to the World Series title.

The auction continues through March 10 at RMYAuctions.com.