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Lot # 794 (of 1641)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1927 Babe Ruth Signed Photo with Original-Owner Provenance!

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $5,629

Exceptional Babe Ruth signed photo, dating just prior to the historic 1927 season. The original photo, which captures Ruth posing in gym attire, has been flawlessly inscribed in black fountain pen (grading "10") "To/Thomas Murtagh/From/'Babe' Ruth/Mar 2 - 1927." This is a famous photo of Ruth and was reproduced in print for a number of purposes by Ruth at this time. Original photographic prints were also provided to Ruth for signing and presentation. They are very rare but we have seen a couple of others over the years. This is a remarkable signed photo because of its strong condition, the boldness of the signature, the ideal 1927 date, and its provenance which incredibly can be traced all the way back to its original owner. The photographer's credit, "Sussman," appears in the background to the right of Ruth. While we do not know what the relationship was between Babe Ruth and Thomas Murtagh, the gentleman to whom the photo is personalized, the March 2, 1927, date may provide a valuable clue: As noted in a Thursday, March 3, 1927, New York Times article (a copy of which accompanies), Ruth came to agreement with Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert on the terms of a new contract on March 2nd that made him the highest-paid baseball player in history. The paper announced that Ruth was to receive a three-year contract for $210,000. With an annual salary of $70,000, the paper notes that Ruth will earn $5,000 more than baseball commissioner Kenesaw Landis, $10,000 more than Ty Cobb, and $30,000 more than Tris Speaker. The paper also mentions that on Saturday, March 5th, Ruth will board a train bound for St. Petersburg, Florida, to begin spring training. Ruth, of course, more than earned his money that season, setting a long-standing single-season record of 60 home runs that helped propel the Yankees to the first of two consecutive World Championships. It is fascinating to note that our consignor actually purchased this photo in 1993 from James Spence back when he was a dealer (before he was an authenticator). The original invoice accompanies. (Another interesting note: The price in 1993 was $2,100). The photo is accompanied by two additional letters relating to its provenance: The first is a handwritten letter (with original mailing envelope) directly from Thomas Murtagh to Jimmy Spence, dated October 30, 1993, which reads "This certifies that I am the Thomas Murtagh referred to on the Babe Ruth autographed photograph dated 1927. Best wishes for the future." The second is the cover letter (also with original mailing envelope) Spence sent to our consignor when he mailed him the Murtagh letter. In the brief missive, dated November 3, 1993, Spence writes the the Murtagh letter "should serve as a fine provenance for the Ruth 8 x 10 you purchased." Unfortunately, the letters do not offer any details regarding the occasion or circumstances when the photo was signed and presented to Murtagh by Ruth on the day of his 1927 contract signing. This is a spectacular Babe Ruth signed photo, made all the more significant by its date of origin. The photo (8 x 10 inches) displays a couple insignificant light creases (visible when viewed at certain angles) and is in apparent Excellent condition. Matted to total dimensions of 11 x 14 inches. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $4,000+. SOLD FOR $5,629


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