Sunday, December 28, 2014

Early University of Illinois Pennant (Pretty Darn Big)


 1920 plus or minus, this is the largest college pennant we have come across. It has sewn on lettering, is in near mint shape, and retains its vibrant color. It measures 63 1/4" in length and at its widest point measures 33 3/4".

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

1890s Yale - Princeton Panoramic Photo

Early panoramic cabinet photos are unusual and quite rare.  This 1890s  photo of the Yale – Princeton football game, with a great perspective, is identified as being from the 1893 game (November 30, 1893, Manhattan Field), although I believe it may have been taken at the 1898 (November 12, 1898, at Princeton, NJ) contest, judging from the background. The photo minus the mat measures approximately 9 1/2 “x 3 ½”.  If you look closely, on the grass behind the line of spectators is a bicycle-built-for-two laying on the ground.

1920 University of Pittsburg Football Team / Pop Warner / Herb Stein

                          1920 Pittsburg Panthers team photo (photo without frame 19 ¼ x 10 ¾”) 

Glenn “Pop” Warner (back row far right in team photo) coached Pitt from 1915 – 1923 with an overall 60-12-4 record. The 1920 team went undefeated, (with two ties against Syracuse and Penn State)


Captaining the team was Herb Stein (center with ball), a player we may have known little or nothing about before reading “Breaker Boys: The NFL’s Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship”. It is an extraordinary tale of the Pottsville Maroons winning and losing the NFL championship, based on a territorial dispute.  Herb Stein was an integral part of this team and played alongside his brother Russ. Very interesting and entertaining stories related to Herb and his brother Russ can be found in chapter four, in particular, of the above-mentioned book.

Herb played for Pitt from 1918-1921, captaining the team in 1920.  He was All-American his junior and senior years and entered the College HOF in 1967. He played in the NFL, first joining the Buffalo All-Americans in 1921. From 1922-1923 he played for the Toledo Maroons, in 1924 for the Frankford Yellow Jackets and from 1925 through 1928 he was with the Pottsville Maroons. In 1922 he made George Halas’ 1st team All-NFL and was selected to Joe Carr’s NFL All Star Team (as center), in 1925, along with Red Grange, Joey Sternaman, Link Lyman, Ed Healey and a handful of others.

Herb and Russ were named All-Americans in 1921 (the Steins are the only brothers named All-Americans in the same year), and Russ was a Rose Bowl MVP.

The photograph itself has an ink inscription on the bottom right identifying the team as 1922, which is incorrect. A label affixed to the glass correctly has the year as 1920.

Monday, December 15, 2014

1884 Wesleyan Football Team / J.A. Saxe / F.D. Beattys


                                               1884, Wesleyan Foot Ball Eleven (names overlayed)

"Wesleyan made football history at Harvard the next Saturday (November 1, 1884) by causing the biggest upset in Harvard's football annals up to that time. They trounced the overconfident Crimson players 16 to 0"..."Judd and Saxe were the bane of Harvard's existence throughout the game, as they made one spectacular run after another. Judd added insult to injury by kicking a beautiful field goal near the end of the first half, to bring the score to 16 to 0.  Harvard played hard in the second period but the Cardinal and Black was playing inspired football and stopped everything Harvard attempted. No score was made in this half."   

Excerpt from "The History of Football at Harvard" 1948.

Wesleyan played a significant role in the development of American football and in the early 1880s was playing against the likes of Williams, Harvard, Amherst, Princeton, Penn and Yale. One interesting note - when researching the 1884 team it became obvious from a review of the team rosters in the Wesleyan yearbooks, The Olla Podrida, and published rosters from varsity games played during 1883 and 1884 (particularly with Princeton)  that there was considerable overlap and flexibility in player utilization.  Just over half of the members of the team played in both years, and members listed only on the 1884 roster were found to be playing in 1883 just as team members listed only on the 1883 roster were found to be playing in 1884 games.
Depending on the source either G.T Judd or J.A. Saxe were listed as Captain for these years. 

                                                       James Alfred (J.A.) Saxe, Half-Back

                      Saxe, considered one of the leading players of this period, continued playing football after graduating from Wesleyan, for Harvard, in 1887 and 1889. A significant cabinet photo of a star player.


                                                                         F.D. Beattys
Frank Beattys (F.D.), was a significant figure not just at Wesleyan, but to the development of early college football and rule-making in particular. He managed the 1884 University Eleven and was a rusher on the ’85 class Foot-Ball team, but more significantly, Beattys was a member of the rule making body for the Intercollegiate Football Association, the Graduate Advisory Committee. He and the small number of representatives formulated, changed and voted on many of the most significant parts of the game. Names like Poe, Camp, Moffatt and MClung, the biggest names of the day were often part of the membership or proceedings. 

A review of a compilation of "Proceedings of Intercollegiate Conventions, Conferences and Sessions of Rules Committees" lists Beattys  as having attended all but one or two of the rules meeting that took place from November 1886 to November 1893. We are listing the specific dates of the meetings Beattys took part in as these dates are frequently referred to in references that cite important changes to the game. The dates are as follows:  November 28, 1886, March 26, 1887, June 5, 1887, March 3, 1888, March 2, 1889, March 30, 1889, November 4, 1889, November 14, 1889, May 10, 1890, Oct 4, 1890, October 5, 1891, March 21, 1892, March 4, 1893, October 28, 1893.  In a letter dated November 5, 1893, Wesleyan resigned its membership in the Association, and thus Beattys' tenure on the rules committee ended as well.


Two pages from the Spalding Foot-Ball Rules and Referee’s Book from 1893. Beattys is pictured with Walter Camp, Alexander Moffat and J.C. Bell (Graduate Advisory Committee).

G.T. Judd, Captain

A.E. Sutherland, Rusher

S.S. Abbott, Rusher

F.T. Smith, Rusher

F.B. Upham, Quarterback

A.L. Green, Substitute, Judge

E.S. Gordy Rusher
George (G.D.) Beattys, Half-Back, Substitute (twin brother of F.D. Beattys)

               Leather cover of D.W.B. Thompson's ('85) (rusher on the 1883 and 1884 University Elevens) Wesleyan yearbook, from which all of the cabinet photos pictured originated. The album was complete and only pertinent photos were included in this blog posting.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Neath The Elms - The Yale Fence - 1870s Pach Bros Cabinet Photo

Outstanding 1870s Pach Bros cabinet photo. This photo was used for the frontispiece of the publication "The History of the Class of '82: Yale College 1879 - 1910", and was titled " 'Neath The Elms". The Yale Fence, in front of Old Brick Row, was so much more than just the prop against which Yale team captains in particular would lean or sit in photographs taken from the 1870s until present day. Collectors and researchers can all probably recall dozens of such photographs they have viewed.

The history of the fence itself has any number of interesting stories associated with it. What is most well documented was the failed fight to save the fence, and that it was gone in its entirety by mid 1888. The book “Yale, Her Campus, Classrooms, and Athletics (1899), has a chapter “The Fight to Save the Fence” specifically addressing the attempt to save the fence from being removed, by protests and petition (signed by students an twenty-one-hundred alumni).   Previous to 1888 there is also reason to believe that sections of the fence were removed or destroyed and that much of the fence may have been destroyed in 1879.

In 1879, after a particularly damaging (to the fence) class rush, Pach Bros. obtained a section of the original fence and began using this at their New Haven studio, acknowledging and further cementing it’s  significance. Early cabinet photos show the identifiable fence section with its split middle rail, which was used in their photos up until 1952. Painted backdrops are evident in these early cabinet photos and are painted to represent the fence’s original location at the college. For a good example of this see our July 4, 2014 blog posting.

All classes had specific areas on the fence on which they could sit, and at any given time there would commonly be two to three hundred people on/at the fence. Numbers of Yale traditions involved the fence and it was held 'sacred' in many respects.  William Phelps Eno, class of '82 constructed an exact replica of the old fence at Yale around 1900, "to make up, as far as possible, for the irreparable loss of the original fence which had been removed to permit the erection of Osborn Hall". There is an abundance of what turns out to be fascinating reading on this subject. Besides the above listed reference, two other good sources for information on the fence are “Yale, A History” (1999), by Kelley, and, “A Bowl Full of Memories, 100 Years of Football at the Yale Bowl,(2014) by Rich Marazzi. 

                                                          Large Albumin of "The Fence"

Jacob at the Yale Club in Manhattan, attending the Japanese Medical Society of America scholarship presentation ceremony, May 10, 2016. He happened upon this section of 'The Fence' they proudly have on display.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Football Tintype C.1880

This is a wonderful circa 1880 football tintype of two teammates I have yet to identify, and is one of our two favorite early football tintypes (see August 11, 2013 post for the other). 
It is roughly a 6th plate, measuring approximately 3 1/2”x 2 1/2”.

Football tintypes are quite difficult to find, and more likely to be from the 1890s.  Tintypes that are pre 1890 are exceedingly rare.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Comparison of Early Football Photographs to Newspaper Sketches of the Same Period (Second Installment)


A continuation of the initial posting, from July 21, 2013, comparing specific photographs to period illustrations.   The illustration titled “At The Training Table” is similar or identical down to the smaller details. The  photograph and illustration are the same room from opposite ends.

In the foreground on the left side are Princeton players, F.L.Smith, followed by J. Baird. Fourth in line on this side is the ever popular Thomas Trenchard. On the right is D.M.Balliet, A.H. Rosengarten and then Johnny Poe. As with the photo from the earlier post, this oversized albumin belonged to All-American William W. Church, Princeton, 97.
Photo circa 1896.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rare Tiffany Sterling Silver Football Themed Flask, Manufactured 1887 - 1888

A finely etched sterling silver flask measuring 5 ½ x 3 ½+, marked Tiffany.

We know from finding the actual drawings that were used to make this piece that it would have been made contemporary to these illustrations, in the 1887-1888 time period.  

From the October 1887 article “The American Game of Foot-Ball”, pgs 888-898, written by Alexander Johnston,  The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, volume XXXlV, May 1887 to October 1887 we found the illustrations by Irving R Wiles that were used unchanged by Tiffany in the etching of this flask. The illustrations were used individually and as composites. One sees from the first illustration titled “A Foul Tackle, Low” the etching on the flask is the same, down to the lines and shading in the illustration.  The second illustration is from ‘Breaking Through the Rush Line” and combines one portion of the illustration with the previous work, again, identical down to the shading. Persistence in our researching proved fruitful in finding this. Other players etched onto the flask are taken from the article illustrations as well.

                                                      A Foul Tackle, Low

Breaking Through the Rush Line

The hallmarks read “2811M1201”, “Sterling” and “2 Gills”

Tiffany & Company Archives: Silver manufacturing Ledger, Entry 2811. 

Photo Copyright Tiffany & Co. Archives 2014 (Not to be published or reproduced without prior permission. No permission for commercial use will be granted except by written license agreement.)

Tiffany & Company Archives: Hollowware Blueprint, Liquor Bottle, 2811, Drawer E13-7 

Photo Copyright Tiffany & Co. Archives 2014 (Not to be published or reproduced without prior permission. No permission for commercial use will be granted except by written license agreement.)

No other ledgers are known that list this order number. Different design and decoration options were offered for this flask; eleven different versions are listed in the ledger. Costs of manufacture (not sale cost) ranged from $15.00 for a nine ounce “Magic Top” bottle to $53.00 for one with hammered and mounted decoration on both sides.

Our research shows that these commissioned pieces with football scenes are exceedingly rare - we know of only three example in total. 

As with many research projects, particularly with those that may take a year or more to get to the point of publication, there is someone that went above and beyond to assist in these efforts and without whom the project would not be possible. Our sincere thanks go out in this instance to Amy C. McHugh, a research coordinator at the Tiffany archives who happily and patiently answered our many questions and was able to supply us with information that would not have been available elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Princeton - Yale 1890 Football Trade Cards


These “series” type trade cards are comic in nature, quite the norm for the period. Specific to the Yale - Princeton football game of 1890 these wonderful and scarce lithographic cards are the only such examples known. Excuse my enthusiasm, but, they’re just fantastic.

(One can draw a comparison of these cards in age and style to the 1880 H804-8 “Sporting Life Publishing Company” set, depicting comical baseball scenes).

These cards picture caricatures of Edgar Poe of Princeton (his nickname during the period was Peter), John “Josh” Hartwell of Yale, Thomas Lee “Bum” McClung of Yale, and Sheppard Homans of Princeton. Two of the cards are not specific to players. 

McClung played for Yale 1889, 90, 91 was an All-American in 1890 and 91 and captained the team in 1891.

John Hartwell played for Yale in 1889, 90, 91 and was All-American in 1891. He coached Yale in 1895.

Sheppard Homans played for Princeton 1889, 90, 91 and was All-American in 1890 and 91.

Edgar Allan Poe played for Princeton in 1888, 89, 90 and was captain in 1889 and 90.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gallaudet College Class Team Mascot 1896

Gallaudet Class of '99 Champions, taken in 1896.

The use of African American mascots in sports was not altogether uncommon in the 1890s.
Most mascots may have been utilized as good luck charms, but it appears that black mascots were often used in order to cause distraction to the opposing teams and were often dressed in a gaudy or demeaning fashion. The above photo being one such bold example.
African American mascots were not confined to a particular sport, and examples existed in most sports including baseball, cycling, football, and even ice polo. This also was not confined to southern or middle America. The fact that the roller polo (immediate predecessor to ice polo) (similar to ice hockey but played with a ball, shorter sticks and had no off-sides rules) team from Waltham, Massachusetts made use of a “colored mascot” was a surprise to us during our research, but as it turned out, should not have been (Boston Globe, January 31, 1893). Photographic examples of African American mascots are very rare (they are primarily baseball related), but do exist.

                                              1896 Gallaudet Varsity Football Team

Another example of the use of unusual mascots is the below Post Card showing midget “Stubb Dickson” with the Unionville Grade School. Number eleven is identified as Dick McClellan.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Carlisle Indians Pennant c 1900

                   Early Carlisle felt pennant, circa 1900. Nice small size, 13" in length, silk border on end.  We have a dozen or so early pennants, some of which we will put on the blog from time to time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yale Cabinet Photo c. 1891


Yale football players from the class of 1895. Names have been superimposed for some of the more recognizable players (Hinkey, Beard, Adee, Butterworth and Stillman), that are pictured on the 1894 Mayo Cut Plug card series. Pach Bros. 8x10 photo, c.1891.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Previously Unknown Early "Pudge" Heffelfinger Photo / Thomas Lee "Bum" McClung / Vance McCormick

Original photos from a collection of identified Yale photographs that all date from 1888 – 1892.  The first photo shows (L to R),  Benjamin Lewis Crosby, William Walter Heffelfinger and Stanford Newel Morison.
Crosby played for Yale in 1890 and 91. Immediately after graduation he worked at a law firm while attending law school but left in October of '92 to become the head coach of the Navy football team at Annapolis. He coached them to a 5-2-0 record, before falling ill and passing away on December 29th of that year, at the age of 24.
 Heffelfinger played for Yale in 1888, 89, 90 and 91, becoming a three time All-American. (see O.D. Thompson post for more on Heffelfinger).
 Morison played varsity football in 1889, 90 and 91. His brother, Samuel Benjamin Morison played for Yale in 1888.
Early, original, non- team photos with Heffelfinger are virtually impossible to find.  

The second photo shows Thomas Lee “Bum” McClung (played for Yale in 1889 -1891), two time All-American, captain in 1891, and future Treasurer of the United States standing at the base of the statue of Benjamin Silliman. The statue now sits in front of the Sterling Chemistry Lab, but its location was at Henry Farnham Hall at the time of this photo.

In the third photograph, Vance Criswell McCormick,’93, is shown second from the left; played for Yale in 91 and 92. All-American, captained the team in 1892. Later he was to become politically active, including serving as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in the 19teens, director of Woodrow Wilson's presidential reelection campaign (1916), and an appointment by Wilson to the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fred Murphy / Anson Beard Imperial Cabinet Card c.1894

Frederick Towsley Murphy, Yale '97, All-American 1895, 1896, captain 1896. To his left is Anson McCook Beard, Yale '95. Both are pictured on the 1894 Mayo Cut Plug football cards.
This is an amazing imperial sized  (13 7/8 x 10 7/8) cabinet photo by Pach, c 1894.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Henry "Tillie" Lamar Cabinet Card

Henry "Tillie" Lamar, Princeton, '86. His run against Yale in 1885 gave Princeton its only victory over Yale in a decade (1879 - 1888). The play is referred to as the "Lamar run" and it is considered one of the most notable plays of that century. The game is often referred to as the "Lamar game".
The cabinet card has sustained moisture damage, although the extreme rarity and significance of the card still makes it highly desirable.
Lamar is posed by the revolutionary war cannon that is the subject of the Rutgers-Princeton Cannon War...or is it the Princeton-Rutgers Cannon War?