A previously unknown example of the card many consider to be the single most important and miraculous baseball card in the world has been discovered: the 1914 Babe Ruth rookie card, featuring Ruth as an unknown minor league rookie straight out of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys. The card has been passed down for three generations in the Baltimore-area family of its original owner.
Just recently, the family has investigated the value of this family heirloom. What they found was shocking to them. Last year Robert Edward Auctions offered the first-ever PSA-graded example of the 1914 Baltimore News Ruth with a minimum bid of $10,000. The card sold for an astounding $243,000 in Vg-Ex condition, instantly catapulting the Babe Ruth rookie to being the second most valuable card in the world, trailing only the T206 Honus Wagner. In light of its extraordinary value, the family has decided to sell the card. The newly discovered card, which is in Fair to Good condition, will be offered in Robert Edward Auctions' April auction, also with a minimum bid of $10,000.
There are approximately sixty T206 Honus Wagners known to exist, but there are only nine 1914 Baltimore Ruths known to date. "The significance of the card speaks for itself, and the number of 1914 Ruths and T206 Wagners also speaks for itself," says Robert Edward Auctions' president Robert Lifson, who has long picked the 1914 Baltimore News of Ruth as the greatest baseball card of all time. "Cards don't get any better than this. In my lifetime, we will see the 1914 Ruth 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 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. "This is a card that just doesn't hit the market often. It's too rare. T206 Wagners are rare, too, of course, but there are enough of them around that at least an example or two sells at auction every year. The Babe Ruth rookie is just in a completely different league in terms of rarity. Only nine examples are known, including the one owned by the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore. If you asked us which card we would be more likely to get for the upcoming auction, a 1914 Ruth rookie, or a T206 Honus Wagner, there's just no question about what we would have said is more likely."
Without reference to value, Lifson can only say "This is a great card with tremendous eye-appeal. The low grade (PSA 1) will keep the price down, of course, but we think this makes the card an even more significant collecting opportunity for many. There's no question that collectors appreciate the hobby's most important cards in all grades. In fact, it has become routine for T206 Wagners graded PSA 1 to sell for a minimum of $100,000. We really don't know what this card will sell for. The minimum bid is intentionally low. All we know for sure is that it's selling!"
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 Terapins 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 red-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.
The most sophisticated collectors and scholars of baseball cards appreciate the 1914 Babe Ruth rookie as one of the most profoundly important baseball cards that could possibly exist. It is incredible that a baseball card was even issued of Babe Ruth as a rookie with Baltimore in 1914, let alone that the card should be from such a substantial and high-quality set. Even sample cards of common players from this issue are highly sought-after.
Robert Edward Auctions last offered a common player from this set, pitcher George Suggs of the Baltimore Terrapins, as Lot #87 in its May 2004 auction. That common player sample card sold for $4,600. 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 defines it as one of the collecting world's greatest treasures.
Robert Edward Auctions is one of the world's leading collectibles auction companies, specializing in the rarest and most historic baseball cards and memorabilia, as well as other sport, non-sport, and Americana collectibles.
For further information regarding consignments or to register for a complimentary auction catalog please contact: Robert Edward Auctions, PO Box 7256, Watchung, NJ 07069 or call (908)-226-9900 or visit www.RobertEdwardAuctions.com.