Robert Edward Auctions’ Fall offering doesn’t end until December 3, but a rare Babe Ruth card is already one of auction’s big winners.
No, not the 1914 Baltimore News card of the slugger that has been highly publicized beyond the sports collecting realm. A rare 1921 Frederick Foto card of Ruth is making waves, too. Early bidding on the card has already at $110,000 as of Sunday night. Graded 2 by SGC, it’s one of only six known copies to have surfaced over the last 100+ years.
As is the case with many of Ruth’s other cards, the value of this one has grown significantly. REA previously sold this same example back in 2015 for $42,000.
The Frederick Foto card is arguably even less known than Ruth’s scarce Baltimore News card. The rarely seen series is dated to 1921 and features both minor leaguers and major leaguers. The series is so rare that even a fully confirmed checklist is in doubt. Additionally, the cards are unnumbered, which only makes it more difficult to know how many are in a complete set. OldCardboard’s checklist identifies ‘100+’ in the set.
The cards were issued by Frederick Foto Service in Sacramento, California and, safe to say, production quality is lacking a bit on this unique issue. Photographs of players were affixed to cardboard with their name and team appearing on the front along with the Frederick Foto name as an identifier. Backs are completely blank. While the cards measure roughly the same as many tobacco cards in the pre-war era, even that varies. Their crude production (or possibly even some late trimming) has led to them being found with routine differences in size. Often, these narrow cards are seen with large white borders at the top and bottom.
Even dating on the series has been called into question. While 1921 is generally the most accepted date of issue, some collectors have debated the precise time in which the cards were produced.
Ruth’s card is particularly intriguing. It labels him as a member of the Yankees with a small ‘N.Y.’ team designation, but the picture of Ruth actually shows him wearing a Red Sox uniform. Ruth joined the Yankees for the 1920 season making this one of his earliest cards with that legendary club.
Another notable feature of this card is that REA has noted the picture used on it is not known on any other cards. In fact, the company could not find any other record of the photo’s existence on any media format.
Auction bidding will conclude on December 3.