If only great-grandpa had been a collector.
One of Babe Ruth’s earliest (perhaps the earliest) and scarcest issues from his Yankees career is on the auction block. The oversized Felix Mendelsohn (M101-6) card distributed through an ongoing offer in The Sporting News a century ago is graded SGC 40 (VG) and carries a current high bid of over $28,000 including the buyer’s premium at Heritage Auctions. Nearly a full week remains in the Spring Sports Card Catalog sale and bidding is likely to go significantly higher. Bidding has already topped the last price attained by the same card, which was conducted by another auction house three years ago.
From 1917-1920, readers of The Sporting News had the opportunity to order postcard-sized photo cards featuring some of the greats of the day. Mendelsohn, a Chicago based photographer/publisher, created the cards. A young Ruth, already showing his powerful promise, appeared in the set, which was available via a mail-in promotion. While he was appropriately designated as a member of the Boston Red Sox at the start, the stunning sale of the Bambino from Boston to New York near the end of the promotion necessitated a little editing. Even if there wasn’t time to snare a new photo of Ruth in his Yankees gear, a change was made to the front, which now identified him on his current team. While the Red Sox Ruth version is scarce on its own, a very small number of graded Ruth “update” cards are known to exist including just eight on SGC’s population report.
The Mendelsohn cards are approx. 4-1/2 x 6-1/2″ with blank backs. The current checklist is well over 100 subjects but still considered incomplete.