One of sports collecting’s rarest cards is also among its hottest. A 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth, picturing the Bambino in the earliest days of his professional baseball career was sold last week by Memory Lane Inc., for a record price of $325,000.
A private collector on the east coast purchased the card, which has been graded PSA 1 (Poor). The price is a record for a low grade Ruth rookie card. It’s the second known private sale of a Ruth “pre-rookie” card in the last 30 days.
In recent years, the ultra rare Baltimore News Ruth card has created a buzz in the hobby, and the realized price of the card sold by Memory Lane is further proof that those who purchased them in the past have made a sound investment. Just three years ago, this same Ruth card sold at auction for $152,750.
The card was a promotional tool for the newspaper and shows the young Ruth playing for Baltimore, two years before he first appeared in the 1916 M101-4/5 set as a big league pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. It’s his first known appearance on a trading card of any kind.
As few as ten examples of the Ruth card may exist, compared to what’s believed to be around 75 copies of the card that’s generally regarded as card collecting’s Holy Grail, the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner tobacco card.
Many of the Ruth cards are in private collections. One of them is on loan and displayed at the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore, where it is one of the primary attractions.
Memory Lane’s I Own it Now catalog sale opened Wednesday. Among the items sold on day one:
- 2000 Yankees World Series ring ($25,000)
- 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski SGC 86 ($22,000)
Catalogs are available free by contacting Memory Lane via their website (http://www.memorylaneinc.com) or phone (714.730.0600).