Spring Premium Live and Catalog Auction 2018
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Absentee portion of this auction is open for bidding.
The live portion of this session will begin Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 7:00 PM EDT.

Today we know Alexander Joy Cartwright as the “father of baseball,” the man who in 1842 founded the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club and played in what is thought to be the first baseball game played under a set of rules that formed the basis of the game we play today. While his contributions to baseball as a young man with the Knickerbockers is well known, Cartwright’s later years are every much as interesting. The baseball pioneer left New York City in 1849 to seek his fortune in the California Gold Rush, and like a later-day Johnny Appleseed, Cartwright spread the new game of baseball as he crossed the country by wagon train.

Finding California not to his liking, Cartwright attempted to join his brother in China, but acute seasickness made him disembark at the first stop, which happened to be Hawaii. In addition to becoming a successful businessman and banker, the Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Library, Rapid Transit Bus Company and several of the city’s most exclusive clubs were founded through his boundless energy. And, of course, he taught the people of the Kingdom of Hawaii how to play his beloved game of baseball. Sometime in the mid-1850’s, he found the time to pose with a friend for a quarter plate daguerreotype. The other man is unidentified, though the Cartwright family believes him to be a Mr. Kerr, also a prominent Honolulu businessman. By this time, Cartwright’s reputation on the island was so exemplary that he was asked to handle all of King and Queen Kamehameha’s financial matters and later acted for the monarchy in a diplomat capacity.

Cartwright presented the Queen with two copies of this daguerreotype. The photos remained with the royal family until 1915 when Cartwright’s grandson, Bruce Cartwright, visited the islands. During a meeting with Queen Liliuokalani, the last sovereign of the Kamehameha dynasty presented Bruce Cartwright with the pair of daguerreotypes depicting his famous grandfather. To mark the occasion for posterity, the back of the copper mat was inscribed, “Presented to Bruce Cartwright, Jr. by Queen Liliuokalani Dec 14, 1915. A.J. Cartwright, Jr. near left (the remaining balance of the inscription is difficult to read). We can’t stress enough the historical significance of this photograph. Only three daguerreotypes of this baseball pioneer exist: the first is a late 1840’s half plate taken in New York that depicted Cartwright and five other Knickerbocker teammates, the second is a sixth plate image taken in Hawaii in the mid-1850’s and the third is this outstanding example. This important baseball artifact remained in the Cartwright family until 1991, when a large archive of Alexander Cartwright material was privately sold. The daguerreotype is housed in a wooden case featuring a Colonial scene carved into both the front and back. The case is in very good condition with some surface wear and there are some small pieces chipped from the outer edges. The daguerreotype remains in very good condition, with some light surface scratches and toning to the gold border and plate. An important piece of our National Pastime with Cartwright family provenance. This piece comes with a signed letter of provenance from Anne F. Cartwright.

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