A freshly graded example of Babe Ruth’s rookie card, acquired in what might be one of the greatest trades any collector has ever made, is on the market for the first time through Clean Sweep Auctions.
The 1916 M101-4 card, with the rare Herpolsheimer back, has been graded 2 by PSA. It enters the auction market for the first time, having been acquired in the 1980s by a knowledgeable collector who recently passed away. At the time of his deal with a fellow collector, 1975 Topps Mini baseball sets were among the hottest items in the hobby and the savvy vintage collector made the choice to trade his own ’75 Mini set for the Ruth card.
It may have seemed like a fair swap at the time, but it turned out to be quite a heist. While the Minis remain somewhat popular, appreciation for Ruth rookie cards has exploded in recent years and the one consigned by the collector’s family is expected to sell for a strong six figure price. It’s one of just five Herpolsheimer variations ever examined by PSA, with only two others appearing on SGC’s census.
The M101-4 advertising backs stem from promotions conducted by the businesses that participated. Herpolsheimer was a Grand Rapids, MI children’s clothier.
Other special items in what the company calls its “best auction ever” include a run of Old Judges with a Cap Anson, multiple T206 Cobb cards ranging in grade from PSA 2 to SGC 4.5, a Walter Johnson Portrait PSA 3, Christy Mathewson Portrait SGC 5 and four Cy Youngs, including three portraits.
Other special cards include an E135 Collins McCarthy Joe Jackson, a 1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb SGC 4, a pair of 1933 Goudey Babe Ruths, a 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams PSA 4, 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson and three 1951 Bowman Willie Mays rookie cards. There are also two Mickey Mantle 1951 Bowman rookies.
Additional pre-War cards include a selection of newly graded Old Judges and key T206 Hall of Famers in collector grade.
Other notable highlights include a 1952 Topps fully graded set broken down, with a Mantle PSA 2 and Mays PSA 3. There’s also a PSA 4 1952 Topps Mays, an Eddie Mathews rookie graded PSA 3, 1953 Topps cards of Mantle (PSA 4) and Mays (PSA 5.5), a 1953 Topps Jackie Robinson and rookie cards of Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente and Nolan Ryan.
There are also partial and complete sets from the 1940s through the 1980s, and a large collection of oddball and modern Pete Rose insert cards that fills up almost 40 lots.
Special lots from other sports include a 1961-2 Fleer Chamberlain rookie card, two 1986-7 Fleer PSA 8 sealed packs and a 1958 Topps Jim Brown RC PSA 7.
In addition to the Chamberlain rookie, basketball collectors will see vintage issues from the 1940s-1960s, numerous 1980s card lots with Michael Jordan Star cards, three Jordan signed items, a pro cut Larry Bird signed jersey and some circa 1980 Detroit Pistons gamers.
Among the autographed memorabilia is a 1920s Babe Ruth autograph dating to the early period in which Ruth wrote his nickname in quotes. There is also an autograph album page signed by Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio in which DiMaggio addresses Ruth, a Ruth-Gehrig signed ball and a Jimmie Foxx single signed ball. There is also a 1933 Goudey Rogers Hornsby signed card, a mint Honus Wagner 3×5, a rare Joe Tinker signed photo and signed Yellow HOF plaques of Dave Bancroft and Jimmie Foxx. Notable signed baseballs include an affordable 1930s ball with Ruth and Gehrig, a 1969 Mets signed display and a run of Red Sox team balls from the 1930s through the 1950s, including a 1939 with a rookie Ted Williams signature.
Baseball memorabilia items are highlighted by a 1967 Roberto Clemente bat given a rating of 8.5 by PSA and a World Series ticket run from 1913-1986.
Collectors of historical autographs and memorabilia will see many Presidential items from the 19th and early 20th century and the classic Dewey Defeats Truman 1948 newspaper.
Entertainment autographs are anchored by an autograph album from the 1940s that will be offered as singles and as one lot. The group includes autographs include Bogart, Jolson, Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor as a teenager.
Non-sports cards include vintage Mickey Mouse and Lone Ranger sets.
The auction continues through Wednesday, June 9 at CleanSweepAuctions.com.