Magnificent and Only Known Example of the 1927 Babe Ruth Film Babe Comes Home Theatre Banner - Colossal-Sized Dimensions Approx. 3' x 10'
All too often the phrase "one of a kind" is flippantly tossed about the hobby for those uniquely unearthed baseball relics. But in this case, no other banner for this movie or any early baseball movie has ever hit the collectibles market.
In 1927, Babe Ruth was on top of the world, already a four-time World Series champion and Major League Baseball's All-Time home run king. The 1927 New York Yankees, led by Ruth and Lou Gehrig of "Murderer's Row", remain the gold standard team, still considered the greatest team in the history of Major League Baseball. But Hollywood also had eyes on the Bambino, who by this point was a worldwide household name. In 1927, First National Pictures produced Babe Comes Home, a romantic comedy featuring the Babe virtually playing himself as Babe Dugan, a bombastic, overindulgent ballplayer who falls for his laundress, played by Anna Q. Nilsson. This was only the second film in which Ruth was tapped to star. And though the first "talkie" would not arrive until later that year (The Jazz Singer), Ruth's character was still magnified (in silence with subtitles) to the millions of movie fans who were captivated with his on-field exploits and gregarious off-field persona. 1927 was a year that Americans reveled in firsts as Henry Ford introduced his newest Model A design. The Jazz Singer changed the motion picture industry for good as the first major motion picture with the introduction of sound, familiarly referred to as "talkies", ultimately drawing the silent film era to an abrupt end. On May 20th, Charles Lindbergh became the first person and pilot to traverse the Atlantic Ocean solo and nonstop. And one week later, May 27th, the Babe Comes Home debuted in movie theatres nationwide. One such theatre was the Peerless Theatre in the little rural town of Kewanee, Illinois. The projectionist and manager of that movie house, Edward Lams, in 1927 for some unknown reason tucked this banner away for more than 90 years after it adorned the lobby of the Peerless, heralding the coming of the much-anticipated attraction.
"Grampa Eddie" as he was affectionately known to his grandchildren, left the lights of vaudeville to run the Peerless Theatre from 1921 to 1952 in his beloved hometown. Unbeknownst to any family members, Grampa Eddie carefully stored this formidable showpiece in one of his closets in his home until it was discovered more than 90 years later by his daughter and grandchildren. So, this was an extraordinary find even for the family of Grampa Eddie who have consigned it directly to us. This piece has absolutely no restoration or in-painting of any kind and includes all of the original grommets from the 1920s as if it was just removed from the wall of the Peerless Theatre. Grinnell Lithographic Company of Islip, New York, was well known for movie posters and high-quality prints, specifically producing these types of banners on cheese cloth, a more lightweight material than the standard polyvinyl used today.
Measuring 35-3/4" high x 119" long, these banners were used not only on the interior, but also on the exterior of the houses as a beacon for potential theatre goers. The offered monumental banner shows the Babe on both ends, in more than life-size graphic full-color, as a ball player on the left and a love-struck gentleman on the right. The bold yellow and powder blue colors still remain as vibrant and bright as the day it was made. The dominating text of "FIRST NATIONAL PICTURES, INC. presents BABE RUTH in Babe Comes Home with Anna Q. Nilsson-Louise Facenza" across the center. Bordered in white with eight 3/8" grommets, four across the top and four on the bottom, the material shows minimal signs of wear other than a few insignificant spots of cheese cloth deterioration at left on the "B" in BABE (approx. 2" x 3/4") and one on both the left (approx. 2" x 1") and right (approx 1-1/3" x 2") sides where the blue and yellow colors converge. Hardly worth mentioning is the slightest of surface wear visible along some of the previous folds of the cloth as it was housed, folded and in a shopping bag for much of its shelf life. We cannot emphasize the ageless, almost time-capsule preservation, of this magnificent piece.
New York's American Museum of Natural History has for decades displayed a colossal Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton as you enter the great hall. At the entrance of the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum hangs the Spirit of St. Louis, Lindbergh's plane from his historic trans-Atlantic flight. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation houses not only his original "Model" cars, but also the actual bus in which Rosa Parks sat as she took a stand against segregation. These premier historic relics are the focal points and the most significant treasures around which all of the other artifacts are gathered. We believe that this Babe Comes Home banner is one such relic and we speculate that the National Baseball Hall of Fame should prominently display this showpiece at its entrance in Cooperstown, NY for all to admire.
Baseball cards be damned, no matter the breadth or value of any collection, this mammoth banner will unquestionably be the pinnacle piece of one lucky collector's treasures. Though Honus Wagner and Mickey Mantle cardboard heirlooms may currently dominate our hobby, the Babe was and is known the world over. This is undoubtedly the most significant display piece to ever be unearthed, let alone offered at public auction. Anyone would clear space on their wall to display this exceptional piece of baseball and film nostalgia. The next owner of this monumental showpiece will forever have the distinction as the person who owns the infamous Babe Ruth banner. ADDITIONAL SHIPPING CHARGES WILL BE $150 FOR THIS LOT
MIN BID $25,000