A 1865 photograph of the Brooklyn Atlantics described as “rarer than rare” was sold at auction on Wednesday for $92,000. The image, which features nine members of the team and their coach, was discovered at a Maine yard sale. It is considered one of the first baseball cards ever.
“It’s more of a piece of photography than a baseball card, but it’s considered by many to be the first baseball card just by the fact that it was distributed by the team,” Troy Thibodeau, manager and auctioneer at Saco River Auction Co. told Reuters. “It kind of set the stage for baseball cards after that.”
It is unclear how many of the cards were produced. According to Thibodeau, the ball club had them printed and handed them out to fans and players, even those from opposing teams, because the Atlantics were so good at the time.
“It was kind of a sign of bravado,” he added. “The key piece of this is not only that it’s a baseball card, but that it’s a wonderful piece of Americana.”