"Unique for the Grade" PSA NM 7 1921 E121 Babe Ruth (Portraying a True 1915 Rookie-Era Image) – The SOLE & HIGHEST GRADED PSA "Babe Without Quotes" Example
The somewhat stagnant late 1910's baseball card market received a well-needed "boost" when in 1921, the American Caramel Company of Lancaster and York Pennsylvania re-ignited the card collecting community with its landmark E121 candy set. With 80 different subjects represented by fine black & white player images, and similar to the renowned 1916 Felix Mendelsohn M101 and Boston Store/Collins-McCarthy/Standard Biscuit 1917 issues, the most prestigious and sought-after player in the 1921 E121 set is Babe Ruth. One of the most coveted pre-war cards, an "EX/MT 6" has sold for a staggering $116K and recently, a "VG 3.5" specimen fetched a momentous $83K price tag, with both of these record setting pricing points realized in Memory Lane auctions. Indeed, the floodgates have opened for this magnificent Ruth subject that was undervalued for so long, especially considering it represents a mere fraction of the thousands of existing Ruth Goudeys.
With that in mind, presented here just happens to be the FINEST PSA E121 Ruth "without Babe in quotes", a miraculous PSA Near Mint 7 masterpiece that stands alone at the top of the illustrious PSA population report! Its undisputed highest "7" assessment and imposing Babe Ruth Red Sox pitching image truly place it as one of the foremost "Sultan of Swat" cards on the planet. In fact, this iconic Babe Ruth pitching pose has been verified as a "true" rookie-era Ruthian image by PSA's photo expert, originally taken at the Red Sox's Hot Springs, Arkansas spring training facility in March 1915. Before the 1920 season, Ruth had been traded from the Red Sox to the New York Yankees with Boston owner Harry Frazee selling Ruth for the hefty price tag of $125,000. True, Frazee loved baseball, but his first passion was producing Broadway hits and he desperately needed money to help fund his new show "No, No Nanette".
History was in the making and in his first season with the Yankees, Ruth annihilated his 1919 home run record of 29 round trippers by walloping an amazing 54 home runs. In the process, unfathomable as it may seem, Ruth belted more dingers than virtually every Major-League team, establishing himself as the greatest player to ever grace a baseball diamond! The "Sultan of Swat" would continue his assault on opposing pitchers the year this renowned E121 Ruth baseball card was issued, belting 59 home runs in the 1921 season which stood as the pinnacle mark for only six seasons when Ruth once again broke his own record by tallying his renowned 60 mark in 1927. For these reasons alone, Ruth's early 1920's cards are highly sought after by elite enthusiasts since they represent an era when Ruth was in the process of revolutionizing baseball. Further enticing collectors to capturing this magnificent Babe Ruth cardboard marvel is the fact that he is donning an early Red Sox uniform, and this is the EXACT pose affixed to his ultra-scarce 1917 Boston Store, Collins-McCarthy, Standard Biscuit issues.
We can only assume that since Ruth had only played a single season with the Yankees, rather than seeking out one of his first-year Yankee images, the American Caramel Company took the "easy road" by utilizing an already existing Red Sox pitching pose. The neat aspect of this card is that it represents Babe Ruth as a New York Yankee while still featuring him in his Boston uniform. Its world-class aesthetics start with the superior black & white image portraying superb crystal-clear clarity and contrast as Ruth delivers another tantalizing pitch in his Bo-Sox uniform. The bold and vivid text beneath his iconic pose reflects "BABE RUTH's" hallowed name and the "R.F.- New York Americans" typography in bold fashion. The relatively well-centered image provides near-perfect "top to bottom" positioning and approximate 60/40 vertical centering between four super clean borders.
Microscopic-like corner wear is consistent with the "Near-Mint" assessment, no glaring surface blemishes and/or creasing is evident, and the verso's bold AMERICAN CARAMEL ad back has stubbornly defied 100 years of potential wear. The fact that any E121 has survived a century of time in this unfathomable "Near-Mint" condition is mind boggling to say the least, with this exalted offering irrefutably residing as one of Ruth's most coveted cardboard mementos. Most significantly and as previously stated, it just happens to suffice as a true 1915 rookie Ruth image with this knowledge based on the image's original March 1915 glass plate negative currently residing in a private collection.
Simply stated, this artifact provides the collector an abundance of world-class attributes including a super eye pleasing early 1920's Ruth card, a Boston Red Sox Ruth "rookie era" image, and considering the E121 Ruth's continuous record setting sales, an issue that has not even remotely approached the pinnacle level of its seemingly infinite-like value. Taking all of these bona-fide concepts into account, we cannot even begin to speculate what a PSA 7 example is truly worth, especially considering that a VG+ 3.5 subject from our previous auction fetched an extraordinary $83K. We will therefore defer to you, the sophisticated collector, to ultimately determine its true market value, keeping in mind its "Pop 1" highest graded stature is completely synonymous with Babe Ruth's unparalleled legacy!
MIN BID $30,000