Finding the original images that artists used to create pre-war caramel and tobacco cards is always interesting. The unique items are rarely are seen or made available to the public. The majority of those early cards utilized lithography with artists using real pictures to depict a particular athlete. While we don’t the source of many of those pictures, sometimes, the actual photos used for their work are located.
Such is the case with this incredible photograph of early baseball star Hal Chase.
A 5″ x 7″ picture of Chase throwing the ball has been consigned to RMY Auctions. The sepia image is also stamped on the back with the name of the photographer. That name, unfortunately, was not stamped properly and is illegible.
The photo could even be a one-of-a-kind piece. To date, RMY Auctions has not identified any other copies of it.
If you are a caramel card collector, the image might look familiar to you. That’s because it is clearly the same one used for some of his most popular caramel cards. This image is found on Chase’s E93 Standard Caramel card and his E98 card, an anonymous issue. Like the E93 set, the E98 release also includes 30 cards. Some believe those E98 cards were also issued by Standard Caramel but that has not been confirmed to date.
Shown here, both cards use the same image. Pictured is a closeup of Chase making a throw from his customary position at first base with the Highlanders.
Chase was an excellent ballplayer and was one of the first superstars for the New York Highlanders, which would later become the Yankees. Regarded mostly for his defensive capabilities as a first baseman, Chase was also beyond an adequate hitter with a lifetime average of .291. Chase even led the Federal League in home runs in 1915 (17) and led the National League in batting average the following year, hitting at a .339 clip.
While he played mostly at first base, he also suited up in the outfield and played minimally at second base, third base, and shortstop. He also pitched a little early in his minor league career and is credited with one brief major league hurling performance, pitching 1/3 of an inning in New York.
By many accounts, Chase had Hall of Fame credentials. However, he’s not a likely candidate for Cooperstown as he was effectively banned from the majors for gambling allegations later in his career.
The photo is currently in RMY’s Fall Auction. Bidding ends on November 10.