Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baseball cards were never like this! (Actually, they were.)

Posted By on Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 12:38 PM

In all the years my brother and I used to collect, trade and mostly hoard baseball cards, we never got copies of the Philadelphia Athletics' Ira Thomas, the Washington Nationals' Walter Johnson, or even the Boston Doves' Bill (William Shirley) Collins.

This may well have been because of our inability to travel through time. But you can, thanks to a collection of extraordinary gelatin silver prints by Paul Thompson. These are the kind of expressive black-and-white portraits that would perfectly complement one of Studs Terkel's oral histories. They also compare favorably to some of the best works that came out of the New Deal's WPA projects a couple decades later.

Having never heard of Thompson, I searched for him on the Internet and learned that there's a Paul Thompson Collection at the Library of Congress. The entry for them provides a bit more information:

Title: Portraits of famous early baseball players
Creator(s): Thompson, Paul, photographer
Date Created/Published: c1910-1911.
Medium: 26 photographic prints : gelatin silver ; 5 x 7 in.
Summary: Photographs show 26 famous baseball players, including Chief Bender, Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Eddie Collins, Johnny Evers, Christy Matthewson, John McGraw, Chief Meyers, Eddie Plank, Joe Tinker, and Germany Schaefer. Many of these portraits were used as the model for American Tobacco Co. baseball card issues, including Gold Borders (T205) and Triple Folders (T202), Helmar Stamps (T332), Piedmont Art Stamps (T330-2), Domino Discs (PX7), Sweet Caporal Pins (P2), and Silks (S74).

So if any of you want to trade one for an extremely well-worn Roger Maris card, just hit me up.






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