The image quality is so crystal clear here that you can perfectly make out the Adirondack barrel brand and even see from the upper-barrel signature model that Mays isn't holding his own bat but rather Al Dark's! There's also an excellent view of Willie's batting grip and, um, fingernail length. This photo was published as part of the 1954 Jacobellis New York Giants issue that's cataloged as a form of team photo pack or card set. In addition to the Jacobellis reverse stamping, there is attribution to Phil Burchman, a colleague who helped connect Jacobellis with Sports Illustrated and who is best remembered himself for photos of Marilyn Monroe.
THE "GOLDEN AGE OF BASEBALL CARDS" PHOTO ARCHIVE: Featuring the Master Photography Collections of Jacobellis, Olen, Barr, Greene and More
It's our great pleasure to present another selection of offerings from the esteemed "Golden Age" archive, which has played a fundamental role in expanding the popularity, value and knowledge around card-used photos. When the Type I originals 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 of Jacobellis contact proofs, as evidenced by the $21,500 paid for a non-card-used 1951 Mickey Mantle rookie photo in our May 2018 auction. Meanwhile, in an earlier sale, Olen's 1965 Topps rookie photo of Joe Namath—described at that time by expert Henry Yee as "the single most important football photograph ever offered"—hit the whopping record total of $66,000.
Each unique piece in the Bill Jacobellis Collection carries the Jacobellis copyright stamp, measures 4x5, and averages EX to EX-MT condition. 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.