Exceedingly rare and newly discovered original Nat Fein photo of The Babe Bows Out, taken in 1948. Accompanied by a full LOA from PSA/DNA certifying it as an original Type 1 photo. While this photo, which earned Fein a Pultizer Prize at the time, is the most famous sports image ever taken, and one that has been reproduced in countless books and periods, original Type 1 examples are practically non existent. Prior to this photo's submission, PSA/DNA had certified only five other original Type 1 examples of Fein's The Babe Bows Out. Incredibly, the offered photo is one of four original The Babe Bows Out photos that was just recently discovered by our consignor while cleaning out the remains of a house he purchased. The former owner of the house was a collector of sorts, but his interests did not lie in sports memorabilia. According to our consignor, it was only by some small miracle that the photos were found, as they were initially overlooked and very nearly ended up in the trash can with other piles of old papers and periodicals. After submitting the photos to REA for evaluation and learning of their true value, our consignor decided to offer one at auction, while holding on to the remainder as keepsakes for younger members of the family. As a result of that decision, no other photos from this find will be offered at auction in the foreseeable future.
The haunting photo captures Babe Ruth during his final appearance at Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948. Today, it remains the most enduring image of Ruth ever taken, and examples can be found in both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian Institute. Ruth was at Yankee Stadium on that day to take part in the club's 25th anniversary celebration of the opening of Yankee Stadium, which included reuniting all the members of the Yankees' 1923 World Championship club. As part of the festivities, the team also chose to honor Babe Ruth by retiring his famous number "3." Ruth was gravely ill with the cancer at the time (he died just two months later); however, he was determined not to let the fans down. In this photograph he is captured for the last time in a New York Yankees uniform. Out of all the photographers present on that memorable day, one man captured the essence of the event in a single image: Nat Fein of the New York Herald Tribune . Fein knelt behind Ruth, aimed his Speed Graphic camera, and captured a priceless moment in American sports history. Babe Ruth Bows Out ran on the front page the next day and later became the first sports photograph to earn a Pulitzer Prize. Fein was asked why he broke a fundamental rule of photography and took the shot without showing Ruth's face. "The retiring of No. 3 was the story. You didn't need to see the Babe's face to recognize him. You'd recognize his great hulk and spindly legs anyplace. No one else had that particular angle, so it was a little something different."
The photo (10 x 8 inches), which offers outstanding clarity, features Fein's credit stamp on the reverse that reads "Photo by Nat Fein Staff Photographer New York Herald Tribune." A few light creases are evident throughout and the photo remains in Excellent condition overall. This is an exceptional example of this highly prized rarity, especially notable for its lack of tears, pinholes, and editorial shading that are so common to vintage news photos. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open).
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