SCP Auctions Present Photos from Cy Young’s Personal Collection

SCP Mid-Summer Classic Preview Opens July 30th

SCP Auctions Present  one of the most remarkable nineteenth-century baseball card related discoveries in the history of the hobby: a group of seven cabinet cards that once belonged to one of baseballs most legendary figures, the great Cy Young. The collection is the ultimate marriage of intrinsic quality and dream-like provenance.

The group represents Young’s Cleveland Spiders from the 1893 period in addition to a Spiders team composite cabinet produced in 1896. The centerpiece is a staggering representation of Young himself produced by the Pifer & Becker Photo Palace of Cleveland, Ohio. Four other Pifer & Becker cabinets in the collection feature Young’s Cleveland teammates Chief Zimmer, Patsy Tebeau, Ed McKean and Hall of Fame legend Buck Ewing.


An additional cabinet in the fraternity featuring Cupid Childs was produced by John H. Ryder. Each of the four Pifer & Becker cabinets bear the same images featured in one of the nineteenth-century collecting world’s Holy Grail card issues, the 1893 Just So Tobacco card set. All Just So Tobacco cards, which exclusively feature Cleveland Spiders players, are exceedingly rare. It has been estimated that fewer than twenty-five examples in total are known in the entire collecting world, with fourteen different players represented.

Prior to the historic discovery of a single tattered example featuring Buck Ewing in 2010, it had long been speculated whether or not he had been included in the series. The matching images of these one-of-a-kind cabinets with their Just So counterparts leaves no doubt that these cabinets are the parents of that issue. Our research has produced evidence of only one other similar Pifer & Becker cabinet (Jimmy McAleer) in hobby circulation confirming a long held belief among collectors that there remains yet to be accounted for members in the Just So ranks. It’s not often that any piece of cardboard bearing the likeness of a ball player could be compared to Just So in terms of rarity, but when items such as these cabinets exist in singular form, rarity is moot.

Property of Denton T. Cy Young
This grouping of seven cabinet cards was the personal property of Cy Young. Each of the cards has an identifying player notation written in Young’s own hand. In the case of Young’s own cabinet, this amounts to the addition of his autograph as well as his first name notation “Cy”. The McKean example bears both McKean’s autograph (d.1919) and Young’s written identifier. The 1896 team cabinet has been signed by Young on the mount. All of these cabinets were mailed together by Young in an accompanying envelope addressed to Harry Erickson of famous Cleveland jewelry store The Cowel & Hubbard Co. on Euclid Avenue. Young’s handwritten name and return address appear in the upper left corner. The postmark cancellation date is illegible, however the type of postage stamps used on the envelope indicate a mailing date of around 1933 suggesting Young may have owned these cabinets for as long as four decades. The accompanying transmittal envelope is completely addressed in Young’s hand and includes his notation “Photos” above the postage. Having recently emerged from a Cleveland area estate, these objects represent a landmark discovery on many levels. SCP Auctions is privileged to unveil them for the first time publicly at the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, their city of origin. These items, along with many other highlights from our August 6th-23rd Mid-Summer Classic Auction can be viewed at the SCP Auctions booth (1001P, 1005P, 1100P, 1104P) from July 31st – August 3rd.

Accepting consignments! Come see us at the National. Booth numbers 1001P, 1005P, 1100P, 1104P


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