There seems to be a lot of commentary lately on the topic of auction houses, and what they do (or don’t do) to their scans and photos, in terms of presenting them to the hobby in auction catalogs and websites. Since the topic is “hot” just as our auction is going live, it makes sense for us to state right here, publicly and for the record, precisely what our policy is on this matter.
Taken right from our auction rules, rule #27:
“Love of the Game Auctions makes every attempt to describe each item in our sale as accurately as possible. We do not “sweeten” or otherwise enhance any scans or images, save for general unsharp mask or image re-sizing, general color correction of photographs, and cropping out unsightly background distractions with the magical Photoshop program.”
This has been our published rule since Day One.
When scanning cards, our process is very simple. We use a Canon CanoScan 9000F – a consumer-grade scanner that anyone can buy for less than $200 – and the software that came with the scanner. We do not alter the scanner settings, in any way. Whatever the settings on the scanner were when it shipped from the factory, that’s how it is now.
When we scan cards, we do it at 200 DPI resolution. Then we import the image into Photoshop Elements and crop out the background. We like to crop the image flush to the card holder, and ensure that it’s nice and straight. For ungraded cards, we leave a thin border around the cards, so that the edges and corners are clearly visible. Then, we reduce the size of the image. We like all our scans of similar cards to be uniform, so that when you open them in your browser, they’re all the same size and not totally haphazard and sloppy-looking. For instance, all cabinet cards get reduced to 5″ in width.
Once we’re done changing the file size, we use the “Unsharp Mask” function at a very low setting, to correct any blur that may have resulted when we reduced the file size. That’s it. We take great care to ensure that our scans properly represent the item you’re buying, so that when you receive it in the mail, you aren’t disappointed. No brightening, no changing color saturation, no changes to the contrast to hide creases, no changes to the image itself (aside from the aforementioned unsharp mask), whatsoever, of any kind. Period.
We want everything we do to look great. However, we do not do anything – anything – to physically alter the appearance of anything in our auction in a deceptive way.
Many people have played baseball, and many have been photographed in the act (or in the studio). One can generally tell, however, when a photo is “serious,” as opposed to a photo of neighborhood kids playing stickball. Particularly with turn of the century cabinet photos, there are tons of photos that have survived the years, depicting ballplayers in uniform, often taken right in a photography studio.
The hobby occasionally wreaks havoc on these photos. Initially, when a ballplayer walks into a photography studio, he has a name. He gets his photo taken, plays a few more seasons, then lives his life. He marries, has kids, maybe grandkids. Eventually he passes away, and is remembered by the people who loved him.
Unfortunately, though, over the years his belongings spread out among his descendants, and perhaps they wind up at an estate sale. Eventually, the baseball photo finds its way into the hobby. In the process, however, the player gets separated from his name.
Allow us to introduce you to William Saunders.
Saunders was a second baseman for the Bain Wagons baseball team of 1898, the “Woodstock Bains” of the Class D Canadian League.
This outstanding image and beautiful mount led us on another one of our fun research projects – identifying the player.
Based on the information printed on the mount, crediting the photo to A. Spinks of Woodstock, Ontario, we were able to trace the cabinet to Alfred Spinks, a photographer in Woodstock who bought out his business partner/brother in 1894, and operated his photography business until 1908. From there, we were also able to identify the player’s team – a factory team, from the Bain Wagon Company. Bain was a large business that operated in the city of Woodstock and surrounding areas between 1884 and 1926, that could, according to the Woodstock Museum, produce 50-60 wagons per day.
Once we encountered the Woodstock Museum website, though, we discovered ateam photo of the Bain Baseball team, from 1898. Seated on the far right, with the bat leaning against his lap, was one William Saunders, the team’s second baseman, and the subject of this beautiful cabinet photo we present to you today.
The Woodstock Bains were a team in the Class D Canadian League of 1899, the only season the team existed. Saunders is credited as having played 13 games behind the plate for the Bains, hitting just .140 with 7 hits in 49 at bats. Saunders was teammates with Bill Cristall, who pitched 6 games with the 1901 Cleveland Blues, and Frank Hemphill, who played 14 games with Chicago and Washington in 1906 and 1909. The big star of the Canadian League that season, however, was a 19-year-old outfielder named Sam Crawford. Crawford hit .370 for the Chatham Reds before moving to Columbus of the Western League, and eventually the Cincinnati Reds in 1899. Crawford, of course, would go on to become a Hall of Fame outfielder with the Detroit Tigers.
Of course this is not Sam Crawford, this is William Saunders, but he is nonetheless a ballplayer with a name, who lived in Ontario, Canada and was photographed in the late 1800s by Alfred Spinks while wearing his Bains baseball uniform. And the photo is beautiful, in outstanding condition with excellent image quality. The gorgeous, ornate white mount is in fantastic shape as well, slightly worn with some foxing at the top of the mount and some wear and dirt on the reverse. Still, an outstanding document of pre-1900 Canadian baseball.
The most popular and widely-collected prewar card issue is undoubtedly the T206 issue. While the player selection is large and includes a large number of Hall of Famers, and the multitude of back varieties lends varying degress of scarcity to the set, the issue also includes a number of rarities that represent some of the ultimate challenges to collectors.
The Sherry Magee “Magie” error is one of them. Known as the fourth of the “Big Four” rarities in the set (the other three being the venerable Honus Wagner, Eddie Plank, and “Slow Joe” Doyle (N.Y. Nat’l) cards), the Magie’s error is perhaps the least romantic from a collecting standpoint, and yet that is part of its appeal. While nobody definitively knows the reason for the Plank and Wagner rarities, and the Doyle rarity is so extremely rare that it escapes all but the most well-funded collectors, the reason for the Magie rarity is simple: Magee’s name was initially misspelled, and corrected during the initial Piedmont 150 printing.
Despite the variation only being known with the Piedmont 150 (Factory 25) back, it is still considered by most collectors to be a necessary card for completion of the T206 set. It is for this reason that its value continues to rise. One of the hobby’s most important rarities, it is thought that only 150-200 examples of this card exist, the demand for this card far exceeding the supply as more and more collectors tackle T206 and its many challenges.
Graded VG 3 by PSA, this example is one of the more attractive of the midgrade Magies. With strong, bold color (along with some visible surface wear), the card is marred by rounded corners consistent with the grade, and yet remains a striking example. With an extremely high percentage of the known Magies existing on the lower end of the grade spectrum, an example as striking as this is highly desirable and will be extremely sought after for years to come.
A very attractive example of one of the hobby’s most important and well-known cards.