Most of the original glass plate negatives taken by legendary baseball photographer Charles Conlon that wound up in the archives of The Sporting News in St. Louis were later sold as one large archive.
But not all of them.
A small group of previously unknown examples have just hit the auction block, including a few featuring Baseball Hall of Famers. The previously unknown group originated in the estate of a former Sporting News executive and is being made available for the first time through RMY Auctions.
Glass plates from Conlon, especially those from early in his career, are very rare. Few have ever hit the open market.
Among those up for grabs is a 5 x 5 1/2” image of Cy Young warming up on the sideline during one of his final seasons as a big league pitcher. The plate is cracked but can be repaired and includes part of the original paper sleeve with Conlon’s handwriting.
Another plate from the same era shows New York Giants ace Christy Mathewson on the dugout steps, talking with team mascot Jimmy Grealish. The 5×7 negative includes the sleeve on which Conlon scribbled “Mathewson and Jimmy” in pencil. The young mascot’s last name was added in pen later.
Another Conlon glass plate negative features Ray Chapman, the Cleveland shortstop who was struck in the head by a pitch from Carl Mays and died in 1920.
The image of Chapman taken by Conlon was used on the front of The Sporting News Baseball Guide in 1920 and that notation is written on the envelope in Conlon’s hand.
There’s another plate featuring Mays and two of George Sisler, one of which carries the “1920 Guide” notation by Conlon written on the century-old envelope.
Other subjects on the collection of 16 negatives in the auction include Luke Appling, Joe Medwick, Rabbit Maranville, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Rick Farrell and Chick Hafey.
Bidding continues through March 6.