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Leon 10-14-2011 09:44 PM

Circa 1846 Daguerreotype – Alexander Joy Cartwright debate
This article was written by hobbyist and Net54baseball member M.ark.Fim.o.ff and has to do with a photo owned by another Net54baseball member and hobbyist, Co.rey Shanu.s. Both gave approval to post this. It is a rather long article and before you make a comment on it please read it. After a day or two, taking comments into consideration; a poll will be added to this thread so you can voice your opinion. Most likely your votes will be able to be seen and I will make that clear when the poll goes up. You will be on your honor system to have read the article to vote. Admittedly I haven’t read it yet, but will. Thanks to both gentlemen for allowing this debate to take place in an open forum. It’s a passionate subject. I feel this topic should be posted on the main page because of it’s importance. *All comments are welcome and you need to be either well known or put your full name in your post.

The article is a .pdf you can easily download at the link below the cover page. Once clicked then click the "Download Now" words and you will be on your way.


bmarlowe1 10-14-2011 09:45 PM

I want to start by saying that I think that Corey is a terrific guy, very sincere and knowledgeable in many areas related to collecting. The reason for this debate is that we very much disagree on how one should determine who is pictured in an early baseball photo.

Part of Corey’s argument in support of the Cartwright ID of the man back-row center in his half-plate dag (HPD) is that there are other Knickerbockers in the photo. In particular he identifies subject G as Doc Adams. In support of that he includes a side by side facial comparison. Also, in a 1997 article in VCBC, he mentions that other collectors agree with him. In the article he states, “…I, as well as other persons respected and experienced in photo identification with whom I consulted, feel very comfortable with this Curry identification.” I post the following to dispute that ID and also address the lack of facial ID skill on the part of both Corey and the collectors who had then agreed with him (whomever they may be). I ask, are you “comfortable” with this ID?

oldjudge 10-14-2011 09:54 PM

I consider myself to be friends with both Corey and Mark and I have read the article in its entirety. First, for someone who is not an expert in facial recognition I must say that both sides provided me with a real education, and for this I thank you both. After reading the article through, and again I am not anywhere near an expert in the area, I lean towards the images in the dag probably not being Cartwright and the other two images almost surely not being the Knickerbocker members that they were thought to be.

Abravefan11 10-15-2011 12:05 AM

I have read the entire newsletter and the following are my thoughts. First and foremost I believe it's important to say that I respect that all parties involved showed a refreshing level of decorum even in spite of differing opinions with such an important item in question.

After reading and rereading all of the information presented by both sides I feel that Mark and Mr. Mancusi presented a great deal of information that shows there is a significant amount of doubt that the subject in question is Alexander Cartwright, much more doubt than probability. While Mr. Richard and the owner of the HPD did on several occasions disagree with the findings or call into question the credentials of the parties presenting this opinion they did not present enough or any evidence to show that the person in question was highly likely to be Cartwright. One can not simply prove that it is Cartwright by saying that it wasn't proven with certainty that it isn't Cartwright.

In my opinion after reading all of the findings by everyone involved that at best it could be said that it's unlikely to be Cartwright and until further evidence can be produced to back up the claim that it is Cartwright it shouldn't be considered to be him.

benjulmag 10-15-2011 01:50 AM

Mark, I will respond to your post in time. You do not mention Curry. Is that because you didn't focus on it or because you thought the comparison Currys matched up well?

The point I wish to respond to in this post is that of Abravefan11. First, thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter and provide your views. Regardless whether I agree with them or not, I appreciate your contribution to this discussion.

The point you raise is an important one -- who has the burden of proof? In many instances, where there is no provenance or other external evidence linking two comparison subjects, and all one has are the images alone, then clearly one can't establish that they are the same individual merely by showing they are not different individuals. In such an instance, to establish the identification, compelling reasons must be shown via resemblance and a matching of various facial features.

But that is not what we are dealing with here. In this instance the Cartwright family has identified Alexander Cartwright (AJC) as being in the image. This identification dates to the 1930's and comes from AJC's grandson Bruce, who was ten years old when AJC died. One would certainly think that Bruce's views on this issue would be identical to those of his father and his grandfather. It is my opinion, given such extraordinary provenance, supported too by other ancilliary information which I mention in the newsletter, that THE BURDEN OF PROOF HAS NOW SHIFTED SUCH THAT TO REFUTE THE CARTWRIGHT IDENTIFICATION IN THE HALF PLATE ONE MUST ESTABLISH THE EXISTENCE OF EXCLUSIONARY DIFFERENCES (OR SOMETHING DARN CLOSE TO THAT). My expert, arguably as respected an expert in photographic facial examination as anyone in the field, opines quite emphatically that not only are there no exclusionary differences, but that the most photo ID can say in the negative about the ID is that AJC is possibly depicted in the half plate.

Or to say it another way, the evidence you say one must have to establish the ID needn't just be photographic evidence. It can also be extraordinary provenance, which exists here.

bmarlowe1 10-15-2011 02:29 AM

Curry does not match, but the presentation is not so brief so I was thinking of saving that for the next newsletter. If I can't do it in a page or less I don't really want to do it here. We’ll see where this goes.

I’d rather stick to discussing my initial point before going into provenance, I would for now only say that, for reasons given in the newsletter and other reasons, in my view the provenance is less than perfect. Your all caps statement assumes that everyone will agree with you that the provenance is “rock solid”. They may not. It is not a law of physics that one must have an absolute exclusionary difference to overcome the provenance in this case. As people read and digest this there will be a range of views on how good or lacking the provenance is and how good or bad the facial ID is, and how much facial mismatch must be shown to overcome the provenance. My interpretation of Tim’s view is that given all that he has read, the facial differences demonstrated by myself and Mr. Mancusi were sufficient to overcome whatever probative value that he saw in the provenance. That is a valid view to take.

barrysloate 10-15-2011 06:44 AM

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, but let me give it a shot. First, let me say that I have known about this project since its inception, and have been in contact with both Corey and Mark while the research was ongoing. I do want to congratulate them both for the comprehensive and exhaustive effort that went into this, and want to thank both for acknowledging me (though my work consisted primarily of cheerleading). And I also want to add that I will not let my longstanding friendship with Corey influence my opinion here. I sincerely hope he would want me to be objective.

Now here is something that really concerns me about this project. Corey has hired whom he considers one of the top photo experts in the country, and Mark has used the services of one of the top forensic experts. And even though both of these experts come with impeccable credentials, they can't even agree on who is pictured in the back row of this daguerreotype. You would think if each has his field down to a science, both would surely agree. But they don't. So here is the first thing I know with absolute certainty: one of these guys is dead wrong! I just don't know which one. It either is or isn't Cartwright, it's not half Cartwright! So before I go any further my radar is up.

Getting back to business. I do agree with Corey that he does not have the burden of proof here, and that it is Mark's responsibillity to prove with pretty near certainty that it is not Cartwright. I think Mark has indeed made a very good case, with very detailed facial analysis, and it has raised some concerns with me. But Corey's expert has also built a strong case that those results are not exclusionary. Who is right? Unfortunately, I don't have the expertise to be certain one way or the other. And because so much is at stake here, it would be irresponsible for me to just guess. There was an element of this study that was a bit too technical for me.

Another problem I have here is with regard to the issue of provenance. I fully understand that just because Bruce Cartwright said the guy in the back row is his grandfather, that doesn't prove he is right. But given that the family had numerous photos of AJC, it would seem extraordinary to me that when the Hall of Fame came calling for an image for Cartwright's plaque, that Bruce in fact picked the wrong person. Could have happened, but that's just as goofy as saying Abner Doubleday invented baseball.:)

What I have always had a problem with, however, is the identification of other people in this photo. I do not think the man with the beard and cigar is Doc Adams, and the Curry i.d. was always a bit shaky too. So in that respect I do see issues with this HPD. Yet who are these six friends who are all wearing the same straw hats? It's a mystery.

So what is my conclusion: I don't know. On a simple glance I have always felt that the man in the back row looked different than the man pictured in the quarter and sixth plate dags of Cartwright. I had many discussions with Corey and he seemed to feel that Cartwright's face changed somewhat over the years. And that's part of the problem. If you take a look at a picture of him as both a young and old man, it's easy to see that his face changed considerably. That makes this debate that much more difficult. So I have to say at this point I am on the fence. I cannot say with any certainty whether or not the man in the back row is Alexander Cartwright, and with so much on the line I choose not to speculate. And I sense this matter may never be sufficiently resolved.

benjulmag 10-15-2011 09:03 AM

Barry, thanks for your response. And yes, I would want you to be objective. I might add to what you said that Mark's expert also says the differences are not exclusionary.

It is not my intention to restate what I wrote in the newsletter. The only point I want to make here is that it is Mark's subjective opinion that the facial mismatches are signficant. Others, including recognized professional experts, not only may but in fact do vociferously differ not only as to their significance but whether they in fact even exist (being caused instead by photographic illusion or studio touch up).

Mark is correct about one thing -- I am not an expert in photographic facial comparison. I wasn't when I acquired the dag over 20 years ago, and I'm not now. Yes I know a thing or two, and I certainly know a lot more now than I did a year ago when Mark and I first began discussing this question, but nothing compared what a true expert knows. That was why I consulted with experts before I bought the dag, and why now I retained who I believed was the top photographic facial comparison expert in the country. Before Jerry Richards agreed to take on the project, he made it crystal clear to me that he was going to call it as he saw it and that if I expected otherwise he did not want to get involved. I also made it a point to not discuss the item's provenance with him until after he had completed his analysis as I did not want there to be any question that even subconsciously that information might have influenced him.

Jerry opines that the facial mismatches Mark and Mr. Mancusi speak of, besides not being exclusionary, are not even close to being exclusionary. The single most important "difference" to Mr. Mancusi, iris size, doesn't even exist. At this point, I don't even know what Mr. Mancusi's conclusion would be today if he eliminated the irises, nose and scar from his analysis. Those were three differences he put tremendous emphasis on and I believe Jerry Richards has completely shattered the validity of all of them.

I might also add, that as to the question of who a true photo ID expert is, a point Mark devotes a section of his report to, I still am having great difficulty with Mr. Mancusi's falilure to understand that in order to compare an image to another image, one must do a direct comparison. It is not sufficient to compare image #1 to image #2, conclude they probably are of the same person (a conclusion which in this instance Mr. Richards disagrees), and then say the conclusions one draws from comparing image #1 to the image in question would be identical to the conclusions one would draw from comparing image #2 to the image in question. That something so basic as to go to the core of how one undertakes a photographic facial comparison, is consistent with every notion of common sense, and the fact that Mr. Mancusi doesn't understand it I find very troubling.

Leon 10-15-2011 09:45 AM

stuck to the top
In order for this very important document to be read and responded to I have "stuck" it to the top of the page. It will remain here for a few days or so.....

For folks only casually reading this thread, or who may not have the level of interest as some, the importance of this photo and ensuing debate can not be overstated. The next oldest "baseball" (with characters in any type/part of a uniform ie... hats, bats, balls etc..) photo is believed to be in the 1856-1858 era. That would make this the oldest baseball photo by approximately 10+ years. A fairly significant situation, even for a novice or less interested baseball hobbyist.

Runscott 10-15-2011 09:46 AM

I'll start by saying that I read this document at 5:00am this morning and sent comments to Leon and Barry. I'm only giving my opinion because Leon said that since I read the entire document, I should consider posting my thoughts.

I never thought that looked like Cartwright (compared to other pics), but never thought it mattered much. It's a significant historical image because Cartwright's grandson SAID it was him, selected it out of all the images available to him to be used for the HOF bust, and it's always been accepted as him. What always bugged me much more about the possible error, is that it means that the 'players' depicted are possibly not the Knickerbockers. But again, that will never be proven one way or the other.

If I owned it, I'd just say - "I knew it couldn't be proven one way or the other when I bought it. I don't care. Go away."

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