We have contradictory newspaper accounts regarding the amount of uniforms in 1886. The first report says the Browns will wear five kits. The next account, only two weeks later, says the Browns will only have two kits. About a month into the season, the newspaper then claims the Browns are getting new sets of uniforms, no mention of how many. And the retrospective account from 1887 says the Browns didn’t wear a road uniform in ’86.
Photography consistently shows the train conductor style caps for 1886, with the exception of the Buchner card series, which shows mostly blue caps, maroon shirts, blue pants, and maroon socks. The Buchner card series also proves problematic because the newspaper account in 1887 says the team did not wear road/traveling kits in ’86. It is our assumption that if the maroon and blue kits are real, they must have been a road/traveling/bad weather uniform.
Combining the newspaper accounts and the photography, we have come up with three kits, and we can not rule out the potential for two more uniforms.
How many uniforms did the Browns wear in 1886?
Did the Browns wear the same shirts with different caps for different occasions?
When the Browns got new uniforms in May, was the design the same as the existing uniforms?
Does the Buchner card series have any merit? Did those uniforms exist? Or was it artistic interpretation.
Are the multiple newspaper accounts completely incorrect?
Can we trust contradictory newspaper accounts?
St. Louis Globe Democrat: February 11, 1886
Mr. Christ Von Der Ahe left last evening for Chicago to purchase new uniforms for the Browns. He says that there will be no change as to colors, but stronger and more durable cloth is needed. Last season the club had three suits, this season they will have five.
The Sporting Life: February 24, 1886
Spalding has the contract for the Browns’ uniforms. There will be two sets. They will differ but little from those of last year. The uniforms will be white and the stockings and belts brown. The same striped caps will be used, with the exception that they will have two circular stripes of brown, one at the apex and one half-way down. The belts will have nickel-plated buckles. The word “St. Louis” will be across the breast, as was the case last year. The new suits will not be worn until the opening championship game.
The Sporting News: May 10, 1886
The Browns are having a new set of uniforms made, and this time St. Louis has captured the contract. C. & W. McClean are busily engaged upon their manufacture, in order to have them ready on the return of the champions, May 16. The colors remain as heretofore — white trimmed in brown. The material is of genuine imported English cricket flannel and the best manufactured. They are simply immense.
Philadelphia Times: March 13, 1887
The St. Louis and Cincinnati clubs, the only Association teams that did not have trailing uniforms last season, have fallen into line and will come out with brand new costumes.