1938 Babe and Claire Ruth Signed Photo to Jimmie Donohue

Sold For: $2,644

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1278

Item Year: 1938

Category: Autographed Baseballs/Flats/Photos

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This intimate studio photo pictures Babe and Claire Ruth embracing for the camera and is beautifully inscribed in white ink by Babe Ruth in the lower left border: "To Our Pal/Jimmie Donohue/From/Claire & Babe - Nov 28 - 1938." The inscription, which as been penned entirely in Ruth's hand, grades a near flawless "9/10" and contrasts exceptionally well against the dark background of Ruth's jacket. Jimmie Donohue was a prominent New Jersey restauranteur who was a longtime friend and confidant of Ruth. The closeness of their relationship is evident by both the personal nature of the photo and the attention to detail given by Ruth in selecting the perfect writing medium to convey his warmest sentiments. This photo was one of numerous Ruth signed items presented to Donohue over the years, almost all of which were prominently displayed in Donohue's restaurant, and which were in recent years sold by the Donohue family at public auction. While many photos exist picturing Ruth and his wife Claire, this is by far the finest example we have ever come across. The fact that it is such a magnificent professional studio portrait and we have never seen this image reproduced suggests it was produced specifically for display in Ruth's home and may have resided there before its presentation to Donohue. It would also not be surprising to learn that Donohue may have once remarked how much he liked the photo, giving the goodhearted Ruth all the reason he needed to make a gift of it. The year of the photo is somewhat significant, as it marked Ruth's final season in the Major Leagues. Ruth retired as a player in 1935, but returned to the Dodgers as a coach in 1938. He took the job under the pretense that he would be in line for a future managerial job with the club. Unfortunately, the Dodgers never seriously considered him for the top job and Ruth, after realizing that fact, quit at the end of the year. He would never return to the Major Leagues, in any capacity, again. The photo, expensively produced on high-quality photographic stock, measures 10.125 x 12.5 inches and is in apparent Near Mint condition. Framed to total dimensions of 12.125 x 14.75 inches. The wood frame is original to the piece. It is interesting to note that close examination of the frame reveals mounting impressions (one in the middle of the right border of the frame and one in the middle of the left border) that are exactly consistent with what one would expect to find on a frame that was mounted to the wall of a restaurant. This is a spectacular signed Ruth photograph with an ideal and extraordinary provenance! LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,500+. SOLD FOR $2,644

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