1926 Spalding Champions Babe Ruth (Rare Ad Back) - PSA NM-MT 8
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $1,541
Graded NM-MT 8 by PSA. This is the premier 1920s Babe Ruth baseball card. Outstanding ultra high-grade example of the key card from this 1920s set issued by the Spalding Sporting Goods Company. Of special note is the rare style reverse on this example. The 1926 Spalding cards are known with text-style reverses (that feature a short biography of the player) and are also known with a completely different back that features advertising for "Sports Co. of America" and provides instructions on how to obtain an album to house the cards by mail. The advertising-on-reverse cards are considerably rarer than the text-style cards. In fact, this is the first "Ad" back 1926 Spalding Ruth we have offered in a decade! The PSA Population Report certainly confirms the greater rarity of the 1926 Spalding Ruth "Ad" back variety versus the Ruth text-back style: Of the fifty-eight examples graded in the history of PSA, fifty-two feature text reverses. Only six feature the advertising reverse. Of these six, the offered card is the only PSA NM-MT 8 to be graded, with only one example graded higher (a single MINT 9 example; the other "Ad" back examples listed in the Population Report grade as follows: one VG 3 qualified, one VG-EX 5, one EX 5, and one NR-MT 7).
Arguably the most classic cards of the 1920s, the Spalding Champions set is beautifully and elegantly designed. In our eyes, these are the "Ramlys" of the 1920s. They are also rarer than most collectors realize. There have only been two major "finds" of pristine examples of these cards over the years. Both have been handled by Robert Edward Auctions, so we have some extra insight into this set. In 1990, we turned up a find of about 400 uncirculated cards, and in 1996, we auctioned a find of 798-uncirculated cards. Aside from these two finds, only a random smattering of cards in various conditions have survived here and there, usually not in high grade. As the years have gone by, the high-grade "find" Ruths have disappeared into collections. It's not hard to see why: this is the single best Babe Ruth card from a standard set from the 1920s, a decade which was Ruth's peak as a player, but with very few quality card issues. Compared with all other Ruth cards, it is hard for us to understand how this card can list in the SMR at $1,250. Compared to other Ruth cards, this seems very reasonable. Something is overpriced or underpriced! Interestingly, the SMR does not make a distinction between the text- and ad-style reverse, even though the ad-back cards are approximately ten times rarer. We believe this is just an oversight and the "Ad" back style Ruth deserves a considerable premium due to its far greater rarity. Whatever its value, this is a great card in all respects. It is bright and crisp, with four sharp corners, flawless picture quality, and perfect contrast. The "Ad" style reverse reads as follows: Save These Pictures - Send five pictures and 50 cents, - M. O. or stamps, for a beautiful - Album in Blue and Gold. Spaces - for 200 Champions, with their - Records. - Sports Co. of America - San Francisco, California. This card originates from the REA "Spalding Card Find" of 1996. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000++.
SOLD FOR $1,541