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March 3, 2013

50 Posed Portraits of 19th Century Baseball Stars

Cards depicting professional baseball players began to be produced in the 1880s, as a sub-variety of cigarette card. Though some of these were simple head-and-shoulder portraits, there was a greater interest in images of baseball players actually playing baseball. The problem was that camera technology at the time was not quite up to the task of actually capturing action.

Selection of studio posed photographs from the New York Public Library’s Spalding Collection, a series of over 500 photographs, prints, drawings, caricatures, and printed illustrations donated in 1921 by early baseball player and sporting-goods tycoon A. G. Spalding (whose name to this day is printed across every ball used in the National League).

The photographs below feature players of different teams from New York and Philadelphia and seem to be mostly taken in the 1870s and 1880s.

(Images from NYPL’s Flickr collection NYC-Philly Vintage Baseball, via The Public Domain Review)



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