The Babe is still hot. More than 60 years after his death, Babe Ruth cards continue to be among the most sought after in the hobby. Sports Collectors Daily tracked the sales of The Bambino's cardboard over the last two months and the results show that mainstream Goudey gum cards continue to dominate, despite being in far greater supply than some of the lesser known issues.
From late October to late December, 106 graded Goudey Ruth cards were offered on eBay with 34% of those eventually selling. The average price was $1,530--skewed somewhat by the sale of a PSA 8 1933 #144 that sold for $18,838. The next highest priced Ruth card of any kind sold during that same period went for less than half that amount.
If you're looking to own an original Babe Ruth card, you might consider looking at some of those more obscure issues. Research shows many of them sell for a fraction of the cost of even a low grade gum card.
A 1928 Babe Ruth Candy Company card #2, graded PSA 6 sold for just $2,895, despite ranking as the second highest graded card of its kind in the hobby. An SGC 84 W515 Ruth #3 brought $1,749 (admittedly, the drawing of Ruth is a bit cartoonish), a 1928 Harrington's Ice Cream Ruth graded SGC 40 changed hands for $1,675 and a 1927 E210 Type 2 York Caramel #6, graded PSA 2, sold for $1,406.
And don't discount those 'shiny' cards vintage collectors so often frown upon. Those buying them are looking for scarce cards with a strong sense of history. Three cards issued by modern era companies and carrying a game-used relic or autograph ranked among the top 10 Ruth cards of all kinds sold during the period.
Top 10 Babe Ruth Card Sales on eBay from Oct. 27-Dec. 25
- 1933 Goudey #144 PSA 8 $18,838
- 1917-1920 Felix Mendelsohn SGC 70 $8,178
- 2011 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts 2/2 $7,878
- 2005 Trilogy Generations Signatures Ruth, Jeter, Mattingly 1-1 $7,650
- 1933 Goudey #53 PSA 6 $6,100
- 1933 Goudey #53 SGC 70 $5,500
- 1933 Goudey #53 PSA 5 $5,311
- 1999 Upper Deck Piece of History bat Ruth/Aaron/Mays bat $4,900
- 1933 Goudey #181 SGC 70 $3,800
- 1933 Goudey #144 PSA 5 $3,563