One of only ten known copies of Babe Ruth’s first trading card is coming to auction this month and could sell for $10 million or more.
Robert Edward Auctions says it will sell the SGC 3 (VG) example of the 1914 Baltimore News issue in its Fall Catalog Auction that is set to open November 17.
The 2 5/8″ x 3 5/8″ card features the 19-year-old Ruth as a member of Baltimore’s minor league club and was part of a set of cards that featured player images on the front and a team schedule on the back.
It’s the first time a 1914 Baltimore News has reached the public marketplace in more than ten years and this particular copy is the best one to appear at auction in more than 15 years.
“Simply put, the Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card is the most significant baseball card ever produced,” said Brian Dwyer, President of REA. “This card is the genesis of Babe Ruth, a man who transcends the game of baseball. This card is not only one of the most elusive pieces of sports memorabilia, it’s one of the rarest collectibles in American history.”
It’s the highest-graded example on the SGC Population Report and the second-best example in the hobby, with only a single PSA 4 graded higher.
In June of 2021, it was sold to a private collector in Florida for $6 million and a small ownership stake in the card was sold to users of the Collectable fractional shares platform but those shares were liquidated in January of this year.
Prior to its sale earlier this decade, the card had been in the same Baltimore area family for more than 100 years. From 1998 until earlier this year, it was on display at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. It’ll go back on public display alongside a blue example of the card on Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 2-4 PM. REA will host private viewings for a select number of guests—first on the evening of Nov. 15 and then again at a private location in New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 29. If you’re interested in attending, you can email [email protected] to reserve a spot.
The Ruth will be part of a 4,000-lot auction set to run from Nov. 17-Dec. 3.
In 2012, REA sold a PSA 1 example for more than $450,000. Since then, prices for rare sports cards have exploded, with an SGC 9.5 copy of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle setting a record when it brought $12.6 million in 2022.
“This is a card that every collector dreams of owning,” Dwyer said of the 109-year-old Ruth card. “And with so few examples in existence, there is almost no desire to sell these cards by the few privileged enough to own them. It is very likely to be the only example we’ll see available for purchase for years to come.”