Hake’s has put up for auction a rather amazing piece from the Richard Merkin collection. It’s astonishing, a one of a kind artifact: a montage of numerous photos of Negro league players from the 1910s, many of them images I’ve never seen before, including some fairly obscure players. It’s dominated by pictures of Louis Santop (14 individual images in all, not counting the team photos).
The montage’s history seems completely unknown; Hake’s speculates that it was perhaps made for Santop himself. At the top and bottom are a number of team photos; the center is filled with photos of individual players, many from Palm Beach, Florida, winter baseball in the mid-1910s. There are also a number of players in Indianapolis ABCs uniforms, which might also be from one of the team’s sojourns in Florida.
Here are some of the highlights (for me, anyway).
I would love to see a large, high-resolution image of this montage printed on a fold-out sheet in a coffee-table book. Come to think of it, I’d like to see a well-designed Negro league coffee table book, period. There are a number of smaller books of photos, particularly the fine Black Baseball in… series, with volumes on Kansas City, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. But possibly the only publication that really qualifies as a Negro league coffee-table book would be Phil Dixon’s The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History—and that is, I believe, out of print. There are hundreds—maybe thousands—of great images that are scattered around in other books, on the internet, and in collections.