Four previously unknown baseball cards issued in 1871 by J. A. Pierce & Company. Information about this important find follows:

Collection of four newly discovered CDV team cards issued in 1871 by Chicago baseball goods store J. A. Pierce & Company each feature composite photographs of major league teams from the then brand-new National Association. This set is extraordinarily significant in that it represents one of the earliest of all baseball card sets. All four cards have been encapsulated by PSA. Each card has the team and all players identified at the bottom of the mount and features advertising for J. A. Pierce & Company on reverse. The entire set probably included every team in the National Association, the very first professional baseball league. Prior to the recent discovery of these four cards we had only seen a single example from the set, the 1871 Chicago BBC, and had previously assumed this was a “one-card set” issued to promote the Chicago sporting goods company advertised on the reverse. In addition to these four cards, while researching the set we have also located four additional examples housed in the collection of the Chicago Historical Society. Those four cards include the 1871 Haymakers, Chicago, Boston, and Athletics. The offered collection of four advertising cards includes the following: 1) “Boston B.B.C., 1871” including A. G. Spalding, George Wright, Harry Wright, Cal McVey, Ross Barnes, etc. Featuring many of the players comprising the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, Boston was the dominant team of the early 1870s. They finished in third place in 1871, but went on to win the championship of the National Association in each of the following four seasons of the league’s existence. Technically in Good condition due to light creasing (creases more easily visible from reverse than front) but with far superior overall presentation. 2) “Olympic B.B.C., 1871” includes five players from the 1869 Red Stockings (Leonard, Allison, Brainard, Sweasy, and Waterman) as well as Davey Force. 3) “Athletic B.B.C., 1871” including A. J. Reach and Dickey McBride. (Vg-Ex). This is an extremely significant card. The Athletics were the champions of the National Association in 1871, and this card therefore represents the first Championship baseball team of the first-ever organized professional league. This card also features A.J. Reach’s first appearance as a professional ballplayer. Because 1871 is the first season of the National Association, the first-ever professional baseball league, all cards from this set might reasonably be defined as “rookie cards” of each player featured. 4) “Kekionga B.B.C., 1871” including R. Mathews (Good condition with half-inch tear in left border, no paper loss). The Ft. Wayne Kekiongas are not exactly a household name. Even we had to look them up. They played only a single season as a major league franchise in 1871, the National Association’s inaugural season, and finished in second to last place above Rockford with a 7-21 record. Pitcher Bobby Mathews went on to become a star with several other teams, enjoying a 15-year career with 297 lifetime victories. Mathews must have been recognized as the star of the Kekiongas as his name is larger and in all capital letters on the mount. Each card has one player identified in all capital letters and in each case this player is the most prominent player on the team. The street address for J. A. Pierce on the reverse of each card has been changed from “117 West Madison Street” to “129 West Madison Street” by crossing out the “117” by hand and adding the “129” to the left. This change is executed in the same hand on each card, and is how these cards were issued by J. A. Pierce & Co. This change was made to reflect the store’s move during 1871, which was possibly related to the Great Chicago Fire of that same year. These four cards, representing one of the most interesting and exciting finds dating from the dawn of both professional baseball and the dawn of “the baseball card,” will appear in Robert Edward Auctions’ spring sale.
Robert Edward Auctions is one of the collecting world’s leading collectibles auction companies, specializing in the the rarest and most historic baseball cards and memorabilia, as well as other sport, non-sport, and Americana collectibles.

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