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Lot 230: Nine original sepia-toned action photographs of W.G. Grace by the cele
November 7, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: Nine original sepia-toned action photographs of W.G. Grace by the celebrated 'Golden Age' cricket photographer George Beldam mounted together with a superb 1903 four-page autographed manuscript letter from W.G. Grace, the 5 by 4in. photographs professionally mounted in cream and suede boards, the letter on London County Cricket Club headed paper, dated 15th September 1903, and addressed to Grace's friend Captain Statham, the letter refers to a match between Gloucestershire and the Gentlemen of Philadelphia which took place in 1889, framed & glazed, overall size 91.5 by 76cm. The photographs of W.G. Grace were taken between 1901 and 1904 by George Beldam at 1/1000th of a second aperture speed, and are amongst the first real action photographs ever taken of a cricketer. What makes these examples so rare and sought after is that there were only two sets of prints ever made; one set for the publication in the book 'Great Batsmen, Their Methods at a Glance', published by MacMillan Press of New York in 1905, and one set for W.G. Grace himself. A copy of the book is being sold elsewhere in this sale as lot 230. Amongst the photographs in the present display are the following originals used in the MacMillan publication: Plate I The Grip Plate IV Stance and First Movement Plate XI Forward Push Stroke Plate XV Beginning of a Square Cut Plate XX A Distinctly Unorthodox Stroke. The hit to square leg from outside the off-stump Plate XXV Mistakes will happen! Here is a perfectly played finish of what must have been a perfectly played straight drive, except that the batsman missed the ball. Two of the photographs in the present display were unpublished in the book: unpub. Lofted drive over mid-on after impact. Side on view. unpub. Straight drive. The follow through, side on view. Also included is a fine original photograph of W.G. bowling round arm, delivering the ball with his hand scarcely more than shoulder high.' This was published as Plate I in the companion book by George Beldam 'Great Bowlers and Fielders, Their Methods at a Glance', publish in 1906 again by MacMillan Press. A copy of this book is being sold elsewhere in this sale as lot 230. All of the photographs offered here were Beldam's own set used for publication, and on close inspection Beldam's own impact lines can be seen on the edge of some of the images. Turning to the W.G. Grace letter, in part, it reads as follows: " ... IN ANSWER TO YOUR ENQUIRIES RE MY VISIT TO THE BRITANNIA IN 1889, MY SON H.E. GRACE WAS NOT THEN ON THE BRITANNIA AS HE DID NOT JOIN UNTIL JANUARY 1890. IT WAS THROUGH LIEUTENANT ABDY WHO HAD PLAYED WITH ME AT LORD'S THAT I PROMISED TO PLAY. GLOUCESTERSHIRE WERE PLAYING THE GENTLEMAN OF PHILADELPHIA AT BRISTOL ON THE FIRST DAY, AND IT WAS ARRANGED THAT I SHOULD GET DOWN FOR THE SECOND DAY IF I COULD NOT GET DOWN FOR THE FIRST. AS THE MATCH AT BRISTOL WAS NOT OVER, I DID NOT GET TO DARTMOUTH UNTIL LATE IN THE EVENING OF THE FIRST DAY'S PLAY. MY FRIEND ABDY WAS JUST LEAVING THE BRITANNIA AS HE HAD BEEN ORDERED OFF TO THE MANOUVRES, SO TOOK NO PART IN THE SECOND DAY'S CRICKET, LIEUTENANT DE RIBECK WAS DEPUTED TO LOOK AFTER ME WHICH I NEED NOT SAY HE DID RIGHT WELL ... I AM SORRY I DO NOT RECOLLECT MORE DETAILS, BUT TO GO BACK FOURTEEN YEARS IS A LONG TIME BELIEVE ME ..." The letter, of very good content, also mentions cadet cricket among other topics. It is written and autographed in black ink. Overall, this lot offers a unique, historic and important item of cricket memorabilia.