The small, rectangular cards were produced by the owners of a Detroit area photography business and are part of a set sometimes referred to as the “autograph on shoulder set” for the facsimile signatures that adorn the front of each photo.
The Kromo Gravue issue contains 40 blank-backed black and white cards including numerous Hall of Famers. Ruth, of course, is the key to the set and the newly discovered example is one of only 16 on the combined population reports of both PSA and SGC.
The 2 1/8″ x 3 3/8″ cards were consigned to Heritage Auctions by Dave Hobson of Baseball Card Buyer who acquired them from a Michigan family. They’re currently in the company’s Fall Sports Collectibles Auction catalog.
Hobson says the original owners contacted him by phone earlier this year, attempting to learn when they were issued and if they were originals because the cards looked virtually untouched, despite being nestled among a bunch of very old family photos.
“I started doing research on my family tree in 2018,” a family member explained. “When going through old family records to add to my ancestry file, I came across the Babe Ruth and the Waite Hoyt cards that were mixed in with my father’s family photos These had been stored in an old farm house in Conklin, MI since the death of my parents (1990 and 2006). Unfortunately, I never knew they were there and now am unable to ask who they actually belonged to. My father was an only child and had two uncles that were never married. My guess would be that they belonged to one of these three men. They were all born between 1885 and 1889, and died 1940 to 1953. They all lived in the Grand Rapids, MI area their entire lives.”
Hobson says he was able to research the issue and eventually confirmed the cards were real.
The Ruth is expected to sell for at least $8,000 when bidding concludes December 10.