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1916 Gimbels #151 Babe Ruth Rookie
Starting Bid - $20,000, Sold For - $216,000
Graded VG/EX 50 by SGC (submitted by REA). Presented is an extraordinary 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! 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 a number of 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 which reveal that 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: http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=203319.) We are pleased to be able to support this theory by reporting that this card (along with the other 160 Gimbels offered in this auction) have been consigned by a Milwaukee-area family, who has kept these cards in their possession for decades! Like most of the regionally issued M101-4/5 sets, we have never seen or heard of a complete set of Gimbels, which makes this Ruth and the accompanying cards offered elsewhere in this auction an extremely significant offering. To date, SGC and PSA have combined to grade only 119 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, than this 1916 rookie card of Babe Ruth. Ruth had only pitched in four games with Boston in 1915 but fortunately impressed the card manufacturer enough to warrant inclusion in this major issue. This is an outstanding and extremely attractive example in all respects. The image is bold and crisp. It is centered very well for this card, which is so often encountered with severe side-to-side centering issues. Gimbels cards (like all M101-4/5 related sets) have a glossy coated surface which is very susceptible to creasing. This card displays a light surface wrinkle in the lower right corner. It shows light, even wear on the other three corners. The printed advertisement for Gimbels on the reverse is bold and crisp. This is an extremely attractive example of one of the most significant and highly prized of all baseball cards. It would be a worthy addition to even the most advanced Babe Ruth, Hall of Fame, or type-card collection! Reserve $20,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $216,000
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