Hailed as the next coming of Yankee greatness, 19-year-old phenom Mickey Mantle was intentionally issued uniform #6. It formed a direct mathematical lineage with his predecessors Ruth (#3), Gehrig (#4) and DiMaggio (#5)—the last of whom soon announced that '51 would be his final season. Expectations of franchise-player status couldn't have been any higher for the Commerce Comet, and he got off to a hot start. But an early-summer slump sent him back to the minors on July 15th. Upon his triumphant return in late August (and for the next 18 seasons), Mantle wore #7 instead. Master photographer Bill Jacobellis had already given a warm welcome to the rookie with this striking posed shot during his seminal #6 phase. Crystal-clear image quality zeroes in on such minute details as the Louisville Slugger barrel brand, the AL 50th Anniversary sleeve patch, and the birth marks on that boyish visage. Indeed, here's how PSA/DNA authenticator Henry Yee sings the praises of this Jacobellis shot: "Asthetically, the photo is simply exceptional. It jumps out at you because of the 'contrast'—those bright pinstripe whites set against the dark background of the lower grandstands. A very well-executed image with great use of light and shadow. One of the advantages of an empty ballpark is that the subject doesn't get lost in a sea of humanity, but instead receives the spotlight of our full attention." Full LOA from PSA/DNA.
THE "GOLDEN AGE OF BASEBALL CARDS" PHOTO ARCHIVE: Featuring the Master Photography Collections of Jacobellis, Olen, Barr, Greene and More
Recent meteoric growth in our hobby's "card-used photo" sector can largely be traced to this very archive. When the Type I original photos of Topps/Bowman photographers Bill Jacobellis and Bob Olen first surfaced at auction in 2014, the terminology of "contact proof" was still relatively unknown. Now, any advanced photo collector immediately recognizes the extraordinary quality and value of Jacobellis contact proofs, as evidenced by the nearly $7,000 paid for Mickey Mantle's 1956 Topps photo in our August 2017 auction. Meanwhile, in that same sale, Olen's 1965 Topps photo of Joe Namath—described by expert Henry Yee as "the single most important football photograph ever offered"—hit the whopping record total of $66,000. And that marks the fourth time in the past 5 years that a card-used photo has reached such an echelon, with Mantle's 1951 Bowman and 1952 Topps photos selling for $72,000 and $60,000, while a 1933 Goudey Gehrig photo by Charles Conlon likewise garnered $60,000.
Thus, it's with great excitement that we present another tremendous selection of offerings from the "Golden Age" archive. Each unique piece in the Bill Jacobellis Collection carries the Jacobellis copyright stamp and has received a Full LOA from PSA/DNA. These contact proofs represent the ultimate in crystal-clear image quality and are essentially the closest thing to the negative itself. Simply put, the contact-proof development process was not employed for everyday news-service photos printed on a tight publication deadline, but rather was reserved for specialized, studio-caliber purposes such as card production by Topps, Bowman and other leading companies. Dimensions are 4x5 (with a distinctive black border) and condition averages EX-MT.