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Thematically similar to two features that appeared in our August 2011 Live Auction (original photographs of Mathewson and Cy Young that served as springboards for tobacco card issues), this display holds an original photograph of the peerless Ty Cobb that’s followed, in turn, by three contemporaneous baseball cards that were commercially distributed in the early 1920s – the card images spawned by the original photograph. Now reposing in a display measuring 30-1/2” x 14”, this Ty Cobb composite is headlined, of course, by the original photo, situated at the left. It measures 6-1/4” x 8” and it’s in substantially reduced condition with a heavy vertical crease. The crease is comfortably to the right of Cobb’s image and, for that matter, may have been incurred before the photo was adopted for commercial use. Proceeding toward the right then, we behold identical images in the forms of a 1925 Exhibit, a 1921 Exhibit, and what is likely a National Caramel E220 (c. 1922). Similarly, these three cards are in reduced condition (all of which rather adds an aesthetic charm to the display as a composed unit).
Not to be overlooked in this rendering of Ty Cobb is the mourning band that appears so conspicuously on his left sleeve. Because the earliest of these cards was issued in 1921 (and that the photo could reasonably date a year earlier), we’re inclined to speculate on a grieved passing in the period 1919 to ’21. A strong case can be advanced that the band symbolized the tragic death of Ray Chapman – an outstanding competitor, but one that numbered among the few of Cobb’s kindred friends. Equally, the mourning band may have pertained to Bill Yawkey – long the co-owner of the Tigers (with Frank Navin). Yawkey, who died in 1919, was father to the more famous Tom Yawkey. Our best guess, however, is that Cobb rued the passing of Matty McIntyre, the very able Tiger leftfielder who, from 1904 through 1910, played in the mighty shadows cast by Cobb and Sam Crawford. McIntyre figured among the casualties of the global influenza pandemic that followed WWI, and finally succumbed in early 1920.
1920s Ty Cobb Original Photograph with Corresponding Baseball Cards Display
Click above for larger image.