August 2019 Summer Classic Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 9/1/2019
Proudly offered in the #1 lot of our 6th Annual Summer Classic Auction is the hobby's highest graded and finest surviving example of Babe Ruth's scarce 1922 W573 card. Although PSA designates the issue as "hand cut," it is important to note that this particular copy does not appear to be recently cut or altered in any way. Graded on behalf of our consignor at this summer's National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago, we submitted the card to PSA exactly as it arrived to us: a large card with seemingly natural corners and edges, where microscopic bits of enamel or print loss can be observed under magnification, similar to almost all vintage cards.

While all parties were pleased with the numerical grade determination by PSA, we would not have been surprised if the card realized a grade of EX-MT 6 or even NM 7. Its centering favors the top and right borders, but not to any degree that remotely diminishes the comfortable, frame-like feel of relative symmetrical balance between its plump borders. Corners and edges both appear in the EX-MT to NM range, and while its printed image shows a few print marks, we've been able to trace these same marks to several other W573 Ruth copies online. The design of the interior image is of course identical to two of the most popular sets of the entire 1920s decade, namely the 1922 Neilson's Chocolate issue and the 1922 E120 American Caramel issue, in which the player image appears in a centered oval surrounded by a decorative border, with the player’s name, position, and team written across the bottom. The back is blank but appears in remarkably clean EX-MT to even NM-MT condition.

Almost nothing is known about the mysterious W573 issue other than that it was a strip card set, according to the American Card Catalog, that consisted of 24 strips of blank-backed, black-and-white strips of ten cards each, sold for a penny per strip. Who printed them and exactly how and where they were distributed remains a mystery. What we do know, however, is that they have proven to be unusually scarce. The offered PSA 5.5 rates as just the ninth-ever copy graded by PSA, compared to 34 total Neilson's Chocolate Babe Ruths and 44 total E120 American Caramels.

It's no wonder the same Babe Ruth image was repeated in several different baseball card sets in 1922. Proving that his 54 home runs in his first year with New York in 1920 were not an anomaly, The Babe followed up his record breaking inaugural season in pinstripes with another campaign for the record books, clobbering 59 home runs in 1921, along with 177 runs and 168 RBI. His second season in New York officially buried the dead ball era for good, and by 1922 he had arguably become the single most famous person on the planet. Among the scarcest Babe Ruth cards from his earliest years with the New York Yankees, we simply cannot emphasize enough how rare this card is relative to The Babe's other strip cards and Caramel issues of the 1920s and of course his Goudey Gum cards of the 1930s. You want rare? You want the best? Then have at it! But be warned: highest-graded Ruth scarcities like this rarely surface for public sale, so we encourage you to please bid accordingly.
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $2,500
Final prices include buyers premium: $12,743
Number Bids: 16
Auction closed on Sunday, September 1, 2019.
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