Sports Collectors

High-Grade 1916 M101-4 Babe Ruth Rookie Card Coming to Auction

One of the best known examples of Babe Ruth’s rookie card is about to be sold to the highest bidder.

Mile High Card Company will offer one of the six blank back Ruth cards graded PSA 7 from the 1916 M101-4 set in its November auction.  The company believes it will sell for at least $3.5 million. A $3.75 million sale would put it among the top ten priciest cards ever sold.

When asked if he thought the card would break into the top 10 of all sports card sales, MHCC CEO and President Brian Drent said, “Shouldn’t it?. We’ve seen a T206 Wagner top six million and cards of Luka Doncic, Pat Mahomes, and LeBron James go over four million. This is a 105 year old rookie card, one of the finest in existence, and it’s Babe Ruth.”  

The card was last offered four years ago this month when it went for $600,000 through Robert Edward Auctions.  Since then, interest in rare and iconic cards has skyrocketed with new investors and collectors entering the space, along with fractional share companies.

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The M01-4 cards were the creation of independent printer Felix Mendelsson, who produced the blank-backed cards with the vision of selling them to sponsors who put advertising on the reverse and distribute them as baseball-themed business cards.

Utilizing actual black and white photos instead of the colored lithographs featured on tobacco and candy cards of the era, the Mendelssohn series shows Ruth in real time; not yet a hulking home run masher for the Yankees but rather a skinny 21-year old pitcher coming off of his first full season with the Boston Red Sox. It would be a breakout year for him as he posted a 23-12 record while leading the American League with nine shutouts and a 1.75 ERA over 323 ⅔ innings, adding a post-season win and a 0.64 ERA to help Boston to a World Series championship.  

“The evaluation of PSA 7 for a card of this magnitude is truly impressive but still seems conservatively graded,” Drent stated.

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One of the common problems of the M101-4 series, and the Ruth card in particular, is the presence of roller lines that impede upon the central image, but this example shows no evidence of that and Drent believes the card projects eye appeal comparable to the few existing PSA 8 examples, none of which have come up for sale in over a decade.

The card is the headliner in Mile High’s Premium catalog auction, which is currently set to run from October 25-November 11.

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