Thousands of camera negatives chronicling decades of baseball history, taken by some of the most highly regarded baseball photographers, are on the block through Heritage Auctions.
The company’s latest sale– “A Century of Greatness” – features negatives from the Deadball era through the 1970s. The images were captured by, among others, George Burke and Charles M. Conlon, photographers whose huge archives have been featured in books, trading card sets and countless publications.
The auction consists of only 13 lots.
Early portraits on glass and acetate safety film dominate the auction, which features an earlier style of portraiture, particularly by Burke, the Chicago photographer whose portraits, candids and posed photos are well known to collectors.
The auction includes a nearly unprecedented archive of more than 1,200 of Burke’s 5-by-7-inch negatives. From 1929 to 1948 Burke photographed visiting teams in Chicago, and captured the likes of Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Dizzy Dean, Bob Feller, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Rogers Hornsby, Carl Hubbell and more. He caught Gehrig in the clubhouse with a beaming glance out into the field; and photographed Ruth in 1935 in a Boston Braves uniform, watching one of his final home runs leave the ball park.
Also offered is a large archive of more than 640 rare glass camera negatives taken through 1941 – among them a beautiful group of Brooklyn Dodgers portraits by the pioneer of baseball photography Charles M. Conlon.
There is a comprehensive archive of more than 3,600 negatives from 1941 through the late 1970s consisting of black-and-white safety film and color transparencies.
The lots include 35 Babe Ruth negatives, ten of Lou Gehrig, 20 of Joe DiMaggio, 30 that feature Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris or both other single player lots featuring Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams and Sandy Koufax.
Bidding is underway now and will close with a live finale on Friday, Nov. 18.