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Auction Action: SCP 2023 Spring Premier Auction

Auction Action: SCP 2023 Spring Premier Auction
April 27, 2023
Bradley Calleja
In this edition of Auction Action, previews the 2023 Spring Premier Auction hosted by SCP Auctions. We highlight three historically significant offerings related to the 'Great Bambino' before the auction closes Saturday night.

Lots to Watch

Lot #15A: 1922 E120 American Caramel Babe Ruth – PSA NM-MT 8

The most desirable and valuable card from the historic 1922 E120 American Caramel set could sell this weekend at SCP with one of the highest graded Babe Ruth examples in existence. There is just one other copy of PSA 8 quality in the company's census with none higher. The release timing of this card  also adds to its legend and lore. Three years after he was infamously traded from Boston to New York, Ruth had established himself as the top player in professional baseball while leading the league in home runs, RBIs, runs, and on-base percentage in 1919, 1920, and 1921. In 1921, the Yankees made their first World Series appearance and returned in 1922, losing in both title attempts. The 1923 season kicked-off a dynasty in the Bronx though as NY won their first World Series and would go on to add 19 more over the next 30 years.

The card presented in this leading lot is a work of art rarely found in pre-war productions. Unlike the standard format picture cards that simply displayed an image of the player surrounded by a blank border, the 1922 E120 American Caramel showcased baseball's greats in an oval cutout surrounded by an artistic design unique for the era. In 2020, Christie's sold this exact card for $77,5000 against an estimate of $40,000 - $60,000. At the time of publication, the card has already displayed appreciation by surpassing $94,000 but will need to attract a few more bids to reach its reserve price.

Lots #10: Early 1940's Babe Ruth Single Signed Baseball – "The Hollywood/Altman Ball"

Known for its distinct flair and fluidity, Babe Ruth's signature is an unwavering staple for any serious sports collection. To truly appreciate Ruth's autograph, its important to recognize how it evolved over the course of his life. In the early years of his career, Ruth's signature was relatively simple, with few flourishes or embellishments. His signature consisted of his first and last names, with the "B" and "R" letters being relatively plain and unadorned. However, as Ruth's fame grew and he became one of the most famous athletes in the world, his signature began to mold into the state found in this lot.

By the 1920s, Ruth's signature had become much more elaborate and stylized. He began adding flourishes and embellishments to the letters in his name, creating a more flowing and decorative signature. The "B" and "R" letters became more elaborate, with loops and swirls that added to the overall aesthetic of the signature. Those elaborations can be found in this sweet-spot-centered example as his 'B' and 'R' are easily distinguishable while the remaining letters are so crisply written one could mistaken them for typed.

First introduced in the 1920s, the Official American League (OAL) ball was designed by William Harridge to replace to previously used National Commission baseball which has been utilized through the turn of the century. With modernized stitching patterns and a cork encompassing a rubber core, the baseball was built to make the game livelier, and in turn, resulted in a long-stretch of record-breaking home run seasons throughout the 20th century. While the importance of provenance is commonly recognized within the art market, in specific cases it carries weight within sports collectibles as well. This baseball demonstrates an impressive history as it comes directly from the Rich Altman collection. Altman, the late owner of Hollywood Collectibles, built one of the finest personal collections known to exist while also running a successful retail store that served collectors across the country. Through 10 bids, the baseball sits at $90,785 with two days remaining in the sale.

Lot #8: 1922-25 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hillerich & Bradby Game Used Bat

If you read our write-up in the first paragraph about the 1922 Babe Ruth card, you should already be well-versed on the importance of the 1920's on not only Ruth's career, but also the dynasty of the New York Yankees.

Across Ruth's illustrious 22-year career his preferred tool of choice was lumber constructed into a powerful home run hitting stick by Hillerich & Bradby. While his first H&B bats can be traced to the late 1910s, it was in the 1920s when Ruth's career flourished. With his record-breaking seasons stacking like pancakes, the demand for H&B bats only grew until they became a fundamental element of professional baseball throughout the 20th century. The bats were custom made and labeled for Ruth - leaving no doubt for anyone interested in authenticating the intended user. This particular example displays evidence of heavy use and scoring, adding to the credibility and mystique. At a whopping 37.6 ounces and 35 inches, the bat is covered in ball marks along the barrel in addition to scrapes from metal cleats. The bat has been certified and authenticated by PSA with a PSA/DNA grade of GU 8.5 with a date range between 1922-25 - right in the heart of the birth of the Bronx Bombers and their incredible run.

All Images via SCP

Check-out the complete auction here

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