1890s Darktown Brotherhood Baseball Minstrels Poster
This is a magnificent color lithograph of “The Darktown Brotherhood vs. The Blackville League.” These are “George Thatcher’s Minstrels…Under Management of Rich & Harris.” The litho shows the dynamic game in vibrant color between these two “negro league” teams of fancy. The top flight ballpark of the time is adorned with clubhouse with “Champions” flag flying proudly. The fascinating close-up point of view shows a key runner stealing home as our foolhardy batter has missed the pitch. The umpire calls a swinging strike as he tears off his antiquated spider mask. In the background, the base runner steals second while the catcher anxiously awaits the pitch, ready to tag the runner. His sorry but enormously detailed equipment includes a birdcage catcher’s mask as well as a red and white striped uncased pillow belted to his stomach for a makeshift chest protector. Our inept batter of course has his foot on the sliding runner’s hand, further throwing the nearest future into a state of further question and chaos. The litho is marked “The Strobridge Litho Co., Cinn-NY-Lon.” Its condition is EX-MT with some paper affixed to the bottom border which can be professionally removed - it is only noticeable upon close inspection. However, this is indicative of the fact that this fresh-to-the-market poster has had no work done and is 100% original (and untrimmed). This is the only specimen we know to exist. It measures 24x25”, framed to slightly larger. The “Darktown" team was perhaps influenced by the J.P. Stevens baseball mechanical bank of 1888. Simply said, this is perhaps the finest piece of baseball graphics we have offered in our 25 years of auctioning baseball memorabilia. It works on so many levels - baseball, “negro league,” minstrels, and - most importantly - it is wonderful.
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