The following is a guest post by Hanna Soltys, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division. The post was written with the help of Sara W. Duke, Curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art.
While professional baseball’s Opening Day will take place at a later date, the spirit and excitement of the day still live on. To honor this highly anticipated spring day, we wanted to share our latest rookie to join the Popular Graphic Art collection: a print that highlights advertising, fashion, and baseball from 1870.
Produced as an advertising print for the clothing fashion firm Butterick & Company, New York Fashions for 1870 shows various baseball club uniforms and a professional league game in the background.
The baseball clubs depicted are (L-R): the Cincinnati Red Stockings, Empire of New York, Atlantic of Brooklyn, Star of Brooklyn, possibly the Hartford Dark Blues (seen from behind), and the Mutual Base Ball Club of New York (New York Mutuals).
The previously unidentified location of the game in the background is the Union Grounds in Williamsburg. The Union Grounds opened in 1862 by William Cammeyer (owner of the New York Mutuals) and was the first fenced-in baseball park.
In the background you will see a pagoda, which became a skating rink changing room during the winter time when the grounds were known as Union Pond. The grounds were located between Harrison and Marcy Avenues and Lynch and Rutledge Streets.
Do you spy what the Empire of New York player is holding? That baseball reads, “Peck & Snyder,” which was one of the first producers of baseball sporting equipment. They also produced baseball cards and were eventually purchased by A.G. Spalding in the 1890s.
This print is a great companion to some other items we have featuring the Cincinnati Red Stockings team and players.
To help ease the baseball gap at the moment, slide into some Opening Day scenes in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.
Here’s to playing ball real soon!
- Dive deeper into late 19th century and early 20th century baseball by looking through the Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection. You can search by cities to find early baseball teams in your hometown (perhaps one you didn’t even know existed!).
- Explore other baseball items in the Library’s online exhibition, Baseball Americana.
- Read other Picture This blog posts highlighting early baseball: Baseball Advertising Hits it Out of the Park, Spectators Pictured “Fanning” the Flames of Baseball Passion, and From Player Portraits to Baseball Cards.
- This latest acquisition was featured on a blog post written by Official Major League Baseball Historian John Thorn as part of the series “Diamond Visions: Baseball’s Greatest Illustration Art.”