Due to his immense popularity, Babe Ruth wound up on all sorts of baseball cards. His presence not only was felt in the U.S. but also abroad as he was known as one of the most famous athletes in the world, appearing on all sorts of international cards.
While Ruth eventually was left out of sets in the years following his retirement, he was still a popular figure. As a result, he still shows up in quite a few sets that were issued shortly after his career had ended.
Many of those sets, for whatever reason, were international releases. And while those cards were once difficult for Americans to secure, the Internet has made finding them much easier. But while some international Ruth cards are quite easy to locate, a few are still very elusive — and the 1940s Editorial Bruguera Ruth card is one of those.
About the 1940s Editorial Bruguera Cards
Truth be told, any 1940s Editorial Bruguera card is tough to come by and many collectors have never even heard of them. You simply don’t see them for sale much.
While eBay turns up a bunch of other Editorial Bruguera sets, you rarely see cards from this series offered there.
Editorial Bruguera was a Spanish printing and publishing company. This was not their only foray into cards as the company produced other sets as well.
These cards appear to have been issued in the early 1940s, though I have seen some date conflicts on that. Grading companies PSA and SGC, for example, have taken to calling this strictly a 1942 set. In any event, these color cards featured all sorts of subjects, most of which would be categorized as non-sports. However, there are a dozen athletes in it and Ruth, predictably, leads the way. The release is dominated by boxing and soccer with nine of the 12 athletes coming from those sports. Boxers include Joe Louis, Max Schmeling, Primo Carnera and Max Baer. Ruth is the only baseball player in the set.
The artwork on these cards isn’t flat out terrible but definitely has room for improvement. If I had to grade the cards’ aesthetics, I’d plant them firmly in between a strip card set and 1930s Goudey cards. The visage on Ruth’s card is certainly close enough to determine it is him — particularly because of the action shot of him in the background wearing pinstripes. But that picture of Ruth swinging a bat is not terribly accurate. In addition to the poor facial features, Ruth obviously appears way too skinny.
Some cards included an athlete’s full name and others had only a last name displayed.
The cards were not designed to really be collected as cards that we think of today. A special album was designed for them and they were to be affixed into the book.
The full checklist of the athletes in the set is:
- Pablo Uzcudun
- Max Schmeling
- Primo Carnera
- Joe Louis
- Max Baer
- Alain Gerbault
- Babe Ruth
Rarity and Pricing
Because of the sheer popularity of Ruth’s name, these cards are occasionally seen at auction houses. But they are so rare that they do not pop up too frequently. To date, PSA has graded only 13 of these cards while SGC has graded seven. That explains why they are so seldom seen for sale.
The interesting part about that is, despite the incredible rarity, prices for them are generally not all that high. The card shown in this article, for example, was part of a Heritage Auction and, as an SGC 1.5, sold for just under $180. That is not a paltry sum but for a rare Ruth card, certainly quite low.
There are a few reasons for that. For one thing, the cards are, as Heritage described, paper thin. These are less like a card and more like a small photograph. The set is also an international release and we know from things like the Astra/Sanella cards and others that those are often less desirable. It’s also just not that attractive of a card and when you add in that it came after Ruth’s career had ended, you have a pretty good formula for decreased demand.
Still, this is certainly one of Ruth’s tougher vintage cards and not an easy find. There is one offered on eBay as of this writing along with cards from a variety of Editorial Bruguera sets.