1933 R319 Goudey Uncut Sheet With Three Babe Ruths and Lou Gehrig

Sold For: $117,500

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 5

Item Year: 1933

Category: Prewar Baseball Cards (1900-1941)

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Presented is by far the finest example in the world of what many consider to be the single greatest of all uncut sheets. Universally known as "The Goudey Triple Ruth Sheet," this uncut 1933 Goudey sheet includes three Babe Ruth cards as well as one Lou Gehrig, and has an enormous significance on many counts. In addition to being an extremely rare Goudey sheet (one of only three examples known) and including three essentially perfect 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth cards (as well as one Lou Gehrig), this sheet explains the story of how the 1933 Goudey set was printed and the mystery of the rarity of the famous 1933 Goudey #106 Lajoie.

Complete and extremely rare 24-card production sheet of 1933 R319 Goudey "Big League" Chewing Gum cards (featuring the twenty-four cards numbered from #144 to #165), highlighted by three Babe Ruth cards (two of the four in the set, #144 appears twice and #149) and one of the two Lou Gehrig cards (#160). Any uncut 1933 Goudey sheet would be a highlight in even the most advanced collection, but a sheet with three Babe Ruth cards (in addition to Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx) has a universal appeal, and can be easily appreciated as a museum-caliber display piece by any card collector or noncollector. Fewer than one hundred Goudey sheets from all baseball series are known to exist and only a small number of these include even one Babe Ruth. In addition to three Babe Ruths and Lou Gehrig, this sheet also includes an additional four Hall of Famers: #147 Leo Durocher, 154 Jimmy Foxx, 164 Lloyd Waner, and 165 Joe Sewell. This sheet is especially significant in that the duplication of the full-length batting-pose card of Babe Ruth on the sheet is directly related to the great rarity of the famous #106 Lajoie in the 1933 Goudey set. The 1933 Goudey set of 240 cards was printed on ten 24-card sheets. The #106 Lajoie, of course, was left out of the 1933 printing. The #106 Lajoie card was not actually printed until 1934 when Goudey specially designed and printed the card to satisfy the demand of those loyal customers who wrote to complain that they could not complete their sets. Those who wrote received a Lajoie card directly from Goudey by mail. If the 1933 Goudey set was printed on ten sheets of 24-cards and there was no #106 Lajoie in this printing, then one card must have been double printed. It was! This sheet shows that one card - the full-length batting pose card of Ruth - was in fact double printed.

The 1933 Goudey set is the first of all modern gum-card issues and the most important of all Goudey issues. Uncut sheets of Goudey cards are extremely rare and among the most popular and sought-after of all baseball-card sheets. Few types of uncut sheets are held in higher esteem, are more meaningful to more collectors, or are more ideal for display. Goudey sheets have always been considered the blue-chip staple of vintage uncut sheets, the standard against which the desirability and rarity of all other vintage uncut sheets are compared. All Goudey sheets originate from two sources: the files of Goudey (most but not all of which surfaced in the collecting world in 1969) and the William Gardiner Collection. The offered sheet originates directly from the William Gardiner Collection. William Gardiner was a very enthusiastic collector who as a youngster lived near the Goudey offices, and was able to acquire uncut sheets directly from Goudey for his personal collection. Unlike most youngsters who would be so lucky, he saved all his sheets in virtually perfect condition. In total, Gardiner had about thirty-five sheets, including two 1933 Goudey "Triple Ruth" sheets (of which the offered example is the finer) and several 1934 Goudey high-number sheets with #106 Lajoie. One of the special qualities of the William Gardiner sheets is that they were all in high-grade, with no tape or glue stains on the front or back, no proofing check marks, no erasures, or any other imperfections which are usually found on Goudey file sheets. Most Goudey file sheets have tape along their edges from being mounted into a large sample book or glue remnants on their reverses or proofing-related imperfections. Many of the Goudey file sheets have undergone restoration over the years, in some cases very minor. Some are in poor condition. But the William Gardiner sheets had no such imperfections: all were perfectly preserved pure production sheets. Gardiner sold all his uncut Goudey sheets in the 1970s. Today all of the finest baseball Goudey sheets, including this example, originate from this small but extraordinary collection.

The sheet is spectacularly bright and clean, with incredibly bold and vibrant colors, and a stunning overall Excellent to Mint appearance. Technically, the sheet is in Excellent condition. There is some light wear to the four corners but due to its size this has no impact on its extremely impressive display value or overall strong Excellent to Mint condition. The sheet is perfectly flat. The reverse of the sheet is fully printed, and is perfectly bright and clean. The "Triple Ruth" sheet and the 1934 Goudey sheet with #106 Lajoie are without question the most important and most desirable of all Goudey sheets. This sheet has been offered at public auction only once before, in 2004 at Heritage, where it realized $131,450. It has been consigned to this auction directly from the purchaser at the 2004 auction. Previous to that sale, in the early 1990s, the sheet was sold privately for $100,000; prior to that sale it resided in The Arnold Kaplan Collection for twenty years. Arnold Kaplan, an extremely advanced collector in the early days of the organized hobby who specialized in uncut sheets and Goudey patent cards, purchased this sheet directly from William Gardiner in the early 1970s. While it may have little bearing on the value of the sheet, it is hard not to appreciate that a PSA 10 Ruth is a six-figure card, and the interior card of Ruth on this sheet is essentially an absolutely perfect, flawless example, and possibly the very best in the world (though perhaps, ironically, not currently valued in the same manner as a Mint card simply because it is in the center of an uncut sheet). Whether this sheet sells for more or less than previous sales is for the market to decide. While value is subjective, it is undisputed that this is one of the greatest of all uncut Goudey sheets, the finest "Triple Ruth" sheet in existence, and one of the great treasures in the entire world of card collecting. Reserve $25,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $117,500

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