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The precise origins of the sport of baseball as we know it are a bit murky but by the mid-19th century the sport was growing in popularity. The first set of rules were established in the 1840s and soon it was on its way to being America's favorite pastime. This sale is for a very rare French & Sawyer Albumen CDV from the early days of baseball. It dates from the 1860s and shows an amateur game of baseball being played behind the Bluff School in Claremont, New Hampshire. While the teams decked out in three piece suits may not resemble the players of today, the positions and action are unmistakeable. There is one other known copy of this image and it appears in the Ken Burn's wonderful PBS documentary "Baseball." This is a very important historic artifact and a wonderful addition to any serious collection of baseball memorabilia. This is a museum worthy item and is in excellent condition. Aside from the expected age toning, the image is clean, crisp, and bright. The image is a standard CDV sized 2.5 x 4" The back is marked from the studio of French & Sawyer Bridgeman's Block, Keene, N.H. The partnership of French & Sawyer was dissolved in 1870 so the photo can be dated to the 1860s at the latest but the photo may date earlier.
On Mar-19-13 at 13:11:43 PDT, seller added the following information:
Due to the tremendous interest in this image I am adding some additional information that has surfaced.This image is very unusual in that it shows a game of baseball being played where it is clearly recognizable as the game we know today. The positions are all clearly defined. Action baseball shots from this era are virtually unheard of, the process of photography was laborious and did not lend itself to outdoor shots of moving subjects. There are very few CDVs of baseball available at all. One of an actual game being played is even rarer.This image can be found in the Ken Burns book Baseball on pg. 60 and in the documentary approximately 20 minutes in. I have added an image of the photo as it appears in the book.Dating the photograph: The following information is available on the website of the Keene, New Hampshire Historical Society. About J.A. French whose studio produced this image. This helps further establish that the photo was printed prior to the dissolution of the French & Sawyer partnership which they date at 1871."Photographer, born ca. 1834 to Abijah and Azubah (Albee) French. J.A. French began studying photography in 1857 in the studio of Mr. J.W. Moulton of Salem, MA. After one year in that city he moved to Wheeling, West Virginia to enter the employ of his cousin, Mr. A. Partridge, and a year later he entered into a partnership with Mr. Partridge and opened a new gallery in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The Parkersburg Gallery lasted eighteen months, after which J.A. French moved back to his home in Westmoreland, NH. In the Fall of 1861 French formed another partnership, this time with Mr. D.H. Sawyer of Keene, NH. The new firm, French and Sawyer, Photographers, opened their "Daguerrean Gallery" for the production of ambrotypes and tintypes, in the Geo. H. Richards building. They built their business and reputation over four years at this location until in 1865 the building and all of its contents were destroyed by fire. They worked out of a portable photographic car on Central Square, Keene, on the east side of the park, for the next fifteen months before they moved into the studio in Bridgeman's block, which was a series of rooms that they equipped for the various branches of their business. In 1871, French bought out the interests of his partner and carried on the business with his primary assistant Mr. O.P. Baston, an experienced artist. Besides the fine portraits taken by J.A. French, he also took a large variety of local and choice scenery, including images of the White Mountains and Niagara Falls."