A piece of baseball history is set to cross the auction block this month, with the potential to command a price as legendary as the player it depicts. One of the mere ten known copies of Babe Ruth's inaugural trading card is about to be offered by Robert Edward Auctions (REA) in its anticipated Fall Catalog Auction, which opens Today.
The card in question, graded SGC 3 (VG), is a 1914 Baltimore News card, a rare artifact that showcases a youthful, 19-year-old Ruth in his minor league days with the Baltimore Orioles. This particular issue is noted not only for its imagery of the future baseball icon but also for its unique back, which features the team's schedule.
The significance of this auction is manifold. It marks the first time in over a decade that a 1914 Baltimore News Ruth card has been made available in the public market, and this specific card is celebrated as the finest specimen to grace the auction stage in over fifteen years.
Brian Dwyer, President of REA, doesn't mince words about the card's importance: "The Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card stands as the pinnacle of baseball cards," he asserts. "This isn't merely a rare sports memorabilia item; it's a seminal piece of Americana, representing the dawn of the Babe Ruth legend—a figure who is synonymous with baseball itself."
The card's condition is top-tier within its class, according to the SGC Population Report, and it's outranked only by a singular PSA 4 in the entire collectibles sphere.
This card's journey is as storied as its image bearer. In June 2021, it entered the private collection of a Floridian aficionado for a staggering $6 million, accompanied by a fractional ownership opportunity via the Collectable platform. However, that collective ownership was dissolved as of January this year.
The card's provenance can be traced back to a single Baltimore family, where it remained for a century before its earlier sale this decade. It was exhibited for the public's pleasure at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum from 1998 until just earlier this year. Fans of the Great Bambino and memorabilia collectors will have the chance to view the card once more before the auction. REA is organizing a public display of the card alongside a blue variant on November 15, from 2-4 PM. Additionally, exclusive private viewings will take place first on the evening of November 15, then later in New York City on November 29.
Those wishing to behold this rarity in person can contact REA for an invitation to these select events.
The Ruth card is set to be the star among a vast collection of 4,000 lots in the auction running from November 17 to December 3. Reflecting on the trajectory of sports memorabilia, one can't help but consider REA's 2012 sale of a PSA 1 example of the card for over $450,000—a sum that pales in comparison to today's market, where a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card recently shattered records with a $12.6 million sale.
Dwyer encapsulates the allure of the Ruth card: "This is the dream card, the one that every collector aspires to hold," he explains. "Its rarity is such that those who possess one of these jewels are loath to part with it. This might well be the only opportunity to acquire one for many years."
Indeed, the upcoming auction presents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for collectors. The Babe Ruth 1914 Baltimore News card represents not just a valuable collectible but the genesis of an American sports legend. Its value transcends the physical card; it's a tangible representation of the legacy of Babe Ruth and a bygone era of baseball that continues to capture the imagination of fans and collectors alike. The auction of this card is more than a simple transaction—it's a historic event, celebrating the enduring impact of one of the most iconic figures in sports history. With such few examples in existence, and the market for rare sports cards reaching unparalleled heights, this auction could very well see the card achieve an eight-figure selling price, setting a new benchmark in the world of sports collectibles.