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Babe Ruth's 1st Card--An Interview

Updated: 7 days ago

All questions were emailed to Brian Dwyer, President of Robert Edward Auctions. Below are my questions and his responses. -Danny Black


One of the world’s rarest and most revered baseball cards - the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth Rookie card - is coming to Robert Edward Auctions (“REA”), the premier auction house specializing in sports memorabilia and trading cards in the US, for the company’s Fall Auction event, which kicks off on November 17. One of only ten examples in existence, this represents the first publicly available example in more than a decade as well as the finest condition example to appear at auction in more than fifteen years. Expected to sell for upwards of $10 million or more, the card was the first ever made of the Great Bambino and features him as a 19-year old on his hometown Baltimore Orioles of the International League.--REA Press Release


1. How was REA chosen to be the Auction House for the Ruth Card?

REA has a long-standing relationship with the consignor and he ultimately chose to sell the card in our Fall Auction because of the strong pedigree we have in vintage sports collectibles, specifically our record-setting sale of the famous T206 Honus Wagner card for $6.6 million in 2021 as well as the 1921 game-used Babe Ruth bat that sold in our last auction for $1.3 million.


2. What was the decision process like on when to bring it to market?

REA events have always been among the most highly anticipated auctions in the hobby, and the Fall Catalog Auction as the final event of the year always features historic, high-end items. This was not a snap-of-the-finger decision for the consignor, but after discussion and walking through what the auction landscape was like right now, he was ready to move forward with the auction of the card and it was a natural fit to headline our Fall Catalog.


3. Many people see a great rare Ruth card, but how truly special is this card?

The significance and historic magnitude of this card cannot be overstated. Very simply, we believe this is the most important baseball card ever created, as it represents the origin of baseball’s most influential and memorable player. It’s one of ten examples known to exist, and the last time one of these came up for a public sale was more than a decade ago. It likely will be many years before one becomes available again because the balance of the examples are tied up in significant long-term private collections.


4. What is the difference between the Red and Blue?

There’s no difference as far as appearance or overall value. The Baltimore News decided when it released the series in 1914 that it wanted to provide a bit of variety and it released all players in both blue and red variations. You could argue that this was the one of the earliest variation series of cards introduced in the hobby.


5. Do you expect comparisons to the offering price with Collectable when valuing the card?

That’s the freshest event in people’s mind when it comes to this card so naturally there will be some comparisons. The biggest difference is that this is not a fractional offering. This is an opportunity to own the card outright. We’ve already surpassed the offering value from two years ago, and we’re only a few days into the bidding with more than two weeks left to go. It will be very exciting to watch where the bidding goes on this historic card. When we think about estimating or assigning a value to the card, we look to the T206 Honus Wagner. In 2013, a PSA 1 Baltimore News Ruth sold for $450,300. In the same auction, a PSA 1 T206 Wagner sold for $402,900. Last year, that same Wagner brought $3,136,500 at auction. In our mind, that puts a PSA 1 Ruth north of $3 million as well. With an SGC 2 T206 Wagner transacting privately for $7.25 million, we think the case for this SGC 3 Ruth to be upwards of $10 million or more is quite compelling.


6. Why did the seller want to sell now after only a couple years of ownership?

This is a tremendous card that had long been on our consignor’s wishlist, and acquiring it was one of the highlights of his collecting journey. He’s lucky enough to have many incredible cards and memorabilia items, but I think part of the excitement for him is the chase. He knows that he’ll never have another chance to get this card, but he also believes firmly in its significance, telling its story, and sharing it with the world. REA has also sold many of the other known examples at one time or another, so we were well aware of the demand as collectors came to us over the years attempting to buy one. All those reasons made now the right time for him.


7. We have no idea when another copy of this card will be available, how important is that to collectors in this price range?

That’s one of the factors that makes this sale so historic. There may not be another example of this card that becomes publicly available for decades. We’ve seen the market clearly indicate that the hobby is as strong as ever and there is a remarkably strong appetite for this card and to become the next part of hobby history. If you think about any incredible asset that has a known scarcity to it - whether it’s Picasso paintings or NFL teams - high-end collectors understand that they have to seize the opportunity when it’s available, even if that means paying a record price.

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