The highest graded example of Babe Ruth’s 1921 E121 American Caramel baseball card – one of only 68 cards known across all three E121 Ruth variations – is on the auction block where it could fetch a six-figure price tag.
Graded PSA 7, the card is the headliner in Small Traditions’ Summer Classic Auction set to run through September 1. Opening at $25,000 this week, bidding has already surpassed $63,000.
The card pictures Ruth in uniform, having just thrown a ball. Underneath his photo it reads, “R.F. – New York Americans”. The name “Babe” is in quotes (one of the variations). In 2017, a version of the card without quotes graded PSA 5 sold for $43,200. Last year, a PSA 6 version with the quotes fetched $115,626.
The E121 American Caramel Ruth card is rare in any condition, but especially so in top grade. Of the 68 total E121 Ruth cards on record at PSA, 38 are of the “Babe” variety (with quotes). Of those 38, the card being auctioned by Small Traditions is the single highest graded. The next best copies beneath it are a two rated PSA 6, including the one sold in 2017.
Nearly 30 of the 38 “Babe” in quotes cards known to PSA are graded PSA 3 VG or lower. Only one other copy from the other two 1921 E121 variations has ever graded PSA 7, and just one other copy from four identically designed 1917 Ruth issues has ever graded PSA 7, with none higher.
Ruth’s 1916 rookie cards report just one PSA 7 on record for each of the Globe Clothing and Herpolsheimer backs, one PSA 7 for the M101-4 Sporting News back, along with one PSA 8 and another two PSA 7s of the blank variety, then another three PSA 7s and three PSA 8s for the M101-5 Sporting News. Those 15 early Babe Ruth cards graded PSA 7 NM or higher are some of the most valuable baseball cards in existence.
Among other cards in the auction is a 1998 Peyton Manning Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autograph #87, graded PSA 10. It carries a $10,000 minimum bid.