1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth Rookie Card

Sold For: $199,750

Auction Year: 2007 spring

Lot: 6

Item Year: 1914

Category: Featured

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Graded GOOD 2 by PSA. Presented is a newly discovered example, only the tenth example known to exist in the universe, of the card many consider to be the single most important and miraculous baseball card in the world: the 1914 Babe Ruth rookie card. This card features Ruth as an unknown minor league rookie straight out of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys. Only nine other 1914 Baltimore Ruths are known to date, including the one owned by the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore. The Babe Ruth rookie card is part of a 1914 set issued in Baltimore featuring stars of the city's two professional baseball teams, the Terrapins of the Federal League and the Orioles of the International League. Cards were issued in red-and-white and blue-and-white. The newly discovered card is the blue-and-white variety. The reverse features the "At Home" and "Abroad" schedules of the Orioles team beneath the headline "Compliments of the Baltimore International League." Cards from this set were also issued with "Read the Baltimore News" printed at the top of the reverse. This card has been saved for decades by a Providence, Rhode Island-area family. The grandfather's collection included a modest sampling of cards from several eras, ranging from a few 1910-era tobacco cards to 1970s TCMA collector issues, and a little bit of everything in between. This gentleman was a somewhat casual collector, not part of the organized hobby, simply collecting on his own for his personal enjoyment. The prize of his collection was this 1914 Baltimore News Ruth rookie card, though at the time, the great significance of this card was not yet appreciated, as it was so rare that it was not yet formally documented, checklisted or even known to exist in the organized hobby. The owner apparently had some connection to the Baltimore area and was a great fan of Babe Ruth. It is interesting to note that he lived in Providence, which of course also has a strong connection to Babe Ruth. (Ruth played for the Providence Grays of the International League late in 1914, following the sale of Ruth to Boston by Baltimore owner Jack Dunn.) When the grandfather passed away in 1985, the family put his cards away. The collection did not see the light of day until 2004, when a family member brought the Ruth card into a convention to see what it might be worth. He was offered $8,000 in cash by a dealer. Though the offer was very tempting, the family fortunately decided to hold off on selling at that time, and the card went back into storage. Two years later, when a family member happened to hear about the Robert Edward Auctions sale of a similar card at a much higher price level, the family contacted REA. In 2004 Robert Edward Auctions offered the first-ever PSA-graded example of the 1914 Baltimore News Ruth with a minimum bid of $10,000. That card sold for $243,000 in Vg-Ex condition, instantly establishing the Babe Ruth rookie as the second most valuable card in the world, trailing only the T206 Honus Wagner. In 2006, a PSA 1 example was offered by REA, also with a reserve of $10,000. That example sold for $150,800. In light of learning of its extraordinary value, which is far more than the family had ever guessed possible or previously contemplated, they are very excited and happy to offer their card at auction, also with a minimum bid of $10,000. Condition: This is an extremely strong example. The front of the card is a strong Vg-Ex, with almost perfect centering, some light border creases in the lower right and a single small, light crease in the center of the left border. These creases are not distracting and do not even enter into the image area of the card. The four corners are strong and square. There is minimal wear and chipping to the edge of the borders, far less than is usually the case with cards from this set (which because of its flush-to-the-border design chip so easily). The card is extremely bright and clean, both front and back. On the reverse is a small area of paper loss affecting approximately 2% of the back, affecting several letters of advertising text. This is the only flaw which keeps this card from grading a solid VG-EX 4. Obviously, this card has a far superior eye-appeal than a GD 2, though it has been appropriately downgraded due to the minor paper loss on the reverse. This is an extremely attractive card and in our opinion one of the strongest in terms of overall eye-appeal of all Babe Ruth rookie cards in existence. The paper loss on the reverse (and resulting lower technical grade) will no doubt keep the price down, but has little impact on the stunning appearance of the card. This is a tremendous card. There is no question that the hobby's most important cards are highly prized by collectors in all grades. In recent years it has become routine for T206 Wagners graded PSA 1 to sell for a minimum of $100,000. Approximately sixty T206 Honus Wagners are known to exist compared with only ten 1914 Babe Ruth rookie cards. Robert Edward Auctions' president Robert Lifson has long picked the 1914 Baltimore News of Ruth as the greatest baseball card of all time, and has for many years expressed the opinion that the 1914 Ruth may someday exceed the value of the T206 Wagner to become the most valuable card in the world. That trend has been in motion for years, even as both cards have escalated in value over the years. The first 1914 Baltimore Ruth to ever appear at auction (the card was previously unknown) sold in the late 1980s for $6,600 to legendary collector Jim Copeland. That card was sold with the rest of his collection at the famous Copeland auction in 1991, where it realized $18,700. Barry Halper's example sold at the famous Barry Halper auction in 1999 for $79,500. The Robert Edward Auctions' sale at $243,000 in 2005 more than tripled that record. The sale of a PSA 1 example of the red-and-white variety at $150,800 in 2006 was all the more noteworthy as this price exceeded the public auction sale price of any similarly graded Wagner card (of which there have been many). Because of its far greater rarity, the 1914 Babe Ruth rookie is a card that hits the market with far less frequency than the T206 Wagner. Of the ten different examples of the Babe Ruth rookie card known to exist, over the years REA has handled the sale of six of them (with one card sold twice). Like the occasional Wagner that is found in an original collection of T206s, there is always the possibility of another Babe Ruth rookie being discovered, but we don't know when, where, or if such a discovery will occur. There are very few cards which transcend the world of card collecting and whose great significance can so easily be appreciated by collectors and non-collectors alike. The 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth card is one of the few, and its great significance and rarity define it as one of the collecting world's greatest treasures. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $199,750.00

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