1916 Gimbels #151 Babe Ruth Rookie

Sold For: $96,000
Year: 1916
Auction: 2018 Spring
Lot #: 3
Auction: Prewar Baseball - 1910s and 1920s Cards
Graded GOOD 30 by SGC. Presented is a very attractive example of Babe Ruth's rookie card featuring the exceedingly rare Gimbels advertising back. This is a very rare back for any M101-4, let alone for Babe Ruth's rookie card! In fact, this is only the second example of Ruth with this rare back that we have ever offered! The first appeared as Lot 748 in our April 2016 auction and realized $216,000. This card (and set) is usually referred to as issued by the Sporting News, but the M101-4/5 sets were actually issued with a variety of advertising backs as well as with blank backs. The M101-4/5 sets were also issued as promotional vehicles for several regional businesses, among them Gimbels Department Store, which had locations in New York, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee in 1916. Fascinating research by vintage-card scholar Todd Schultz has turned up period newspaper advertisements that reveal these cards were issued by the Milwaukee store in groups of twenty cards. (Todd's research, and copies of the ads, can be found here: To date, SGC and PSA have combined to grade only 161 examples (of all subjects) from this rare set, including seven Ruths (although we suspect this number includes some that are "double counted" due to crossing over between companies). This is a very distinctive example of Babe Ruth's rookie card, universally regarded as one of the most significant cards in all of card collecting. It would be hard for a piece of cardboard to better symbolize the history, the essence of American sport, then this 1916 rookie card of Babe Ruth. Ruth had pitched in only four games with Boston in 1915 but fortunately impressed the card manufacturer enough to warrant inclusion in this major issue. This is a very attractive card that, as can easily be seen, displays far better than suggested by its technical grade. The card is very well centered with even wear to the corners consistent with the assigned grade. A few horizontal creases are present on the front but do not fully break through to the reverse. The reverse advertisement for Gimbels is bold and crisp with a hint of light staining. This is a very desirable example of an extreme rarity and would be a significant addition to any world-class Babe Ruth or rare vintage baseball-card collection. Reserve $25,000. Estimate (open).
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