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Barry Halper's Famous Babe Ruth Framed "Hair" Display
Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $38,187.50
Barry Halper's collection of baseball memorabilia was both vast in number and rich in quality. For that reason, visitors to his home were often plagued by sensory overload as they wandered from room to room. One of the pieces that few people ever forgot, however, was this unusual item: a lock of Babe Ruth's hair, framed together with a typed-signed letter from Ruth, the original mailing envelope (bearing Ruth's preprinted name), and a black-and-white Hall of Fame postcard of Ruth. This display piece was one of Barry's absolute favorites and certainly the most unique Ruth item housed in his collection. While the lock of hair itself is substantial, consisting of approximately hundreds (perhaps thousands) of strands, it is the accompanying letter from Ruth that gives it its special charm. In his one-page letter (undated) Ruth replies to what he admits is the strangest request ever made of him: "Dear Mathew: In all my years in Baseball I have received many requests for autographs, bats, balls, and equipment, but you are the first person to ask me for some of my hair. Therefore, I feel I am obligated to comply with such a request at least once. You will find enclosed an envelope containing some of my hair. I don't know what you're going to do with it, but I hope you enjoy it. Good luck with your collection. Sincerely, Babe Ruth [signed]." The letter and hair are accompanied by an envelope (which may in fact be only the front half of an envelope, we really can't tell because both the letter and the envelope are mounted directly onto the mat for display). Over the seal of the envelope is typed: "To Mathew Ward - I guarantee that the enclosed hair is my own." A second Ruth signature appears in blue ink below the typewritten notation. Both Ruth signatures (on the letter and envelope) are classic secretarial examples from the period and grade "8/9" overall. In fact, that is the reason that the framed Ruth hair display was not included in the 1999 Halper auction. At the time, a number of collectors inquired about the Ruth hair, and we explained why we did not include it. They were disappointed but still very interested in the Ruth hair display, even though the signatures are secretarial. This was something we simply had not even thought of. When this auction was announced last year, we immediately received several calls inquiring about the whereabouts of the Ruth hair. The answer, of course, is that it has been hanging on Barry's "Babe Ruth wall" ever since the 1999 auction, just as it had for the previous twenty-five years. Robert Edward Auctions regularly passes on opportunities to offer the hair of famous persons (Lincoln, Elvis, Washington, etc.) specifically because we believe it is virtually impossible for us to authenticate hair with certainty. However, we make an exception to that rule with this lock, because of its extraordinary provenance, and the interest that we know exists for this fascinating display. Despite the fact that Ruth did not actually sign the letter and envelope, the sentiments conveyed in the letter, and, most important, the lock of hair, are presumably his and their presentation together makes for one of the most unusual Ruth display pieces in existence. The letter (5.5 x 9 inches) displays two horizontal mailing folds and is in Excellent to Mint condition. The envelope (7.5 x 4 inches) is in Excellent condition. The postcard is in Near Mint condition. Framed to total dimensions of 17.25 x 13.25 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $38,187.50
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