Apr 08, 2014 - Sale 2344

Sale 2344 - Lot 37

Price Realized: $ 5,888
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(BASEBALL.) Artwork for a cigar box label depicting Hans Wagner. Watercolor and gouache, and perhaps colored pencil, 4 1/2 x 6 inches image size on slightly larger sheet (inner box format); very minor wear, not affecting image. Np, circa 1909?

Additional Details

The great Pittsburgh shortstop Hans "Honus" Wagner is perhaps most remembered today for his baseball card. He refused permission to release a 1909 cigarette card with his image; the few surviving copies are now worth upwards of two million dollars. Although Wagner and his employers apparently viewed cigarettes as disreputable, he enjoyed cigars and chewing tobacco, and his face appeared on several cigar boxes over the course of his career (DeValeria, Honus Wagner, 239).
This label appears to be a highly finished maquette for the Wagner label. It depicts Wagner in front of a stylized game in progress. The pose may look familiar, as it is identical to the famously rare baseball card, which was in turn taken from a 1905 photograph. However, although Wagner's name is prominently displayed in the artwork, the name of his team has been scrupulously omitted, suggesting that the Pittsburgh management was not part of the endorsement.
One of the printed outer labels featuring this design was sold at the famous Halper sale (Sotheby's, 23 September 1999, lot 2167), where it was assigned a 1909 date. The present image includes slightly more background because of its larger format.
with--Another piece of cigar-box art for an inner label, apparently by the same artist and acquired at the same time, featuring dancing women in exotic costumes.