2017 October Legends Closing November 11
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/12/2017

     Come one, come all. Step inside and join us for a drink at Ruth's Cafe. Let's raise a glass to the 20-year-old phenom named Babe who just won the 1915 World's Series up in Boston. Now he's back home with us in Baltimore's waterfront district and has generously put his winner's share toward this here cozy saloon for his old man. See the Bambino himself there, tending bar? If you're in the know, the big fella may even train you on a punching bag in the private back room. Care for some Christmas eggnog from the punch bowl? Cheers!

     Attendees of the 2012 National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore may recall the hoopla that surrounded the last offering of one such 1915 "Ruth's Cafe" original photograph. Auctioned mere blocks away from the tavern's historic locale (38 Eutaw Street—today a strip club), that predecessor sold for the blockbuster price of $55,000 when the gavel finally came down. Offered here is in our opinion the finest example of this original photograph, which we believe is superior in both condition and quality. Only three examples of this authentic original photograph have ever been authenticated as a Type I photograph by PSA/DNA and made publicly available from this widely produced image. Goldin Auctions sold a poor condition Type I photograph of this image earlier this year. This offered Type I original photograph previously sold in 1994 and has remained in a private collection for the past 23 years.

     Described by best-selling sports biographer Jane Leavy as "The only known [Ruth family] photograph of father and son," the approximately 8 x 10 inch crystal-clear image was taken in December 1915 by Baltimore photographer Vincent Velzis. It depicts depicts proprietor George Sr. and financier George Jr. as almost mirror images. They wear matching barkeep outfits, lean one hand on the back bar, stare mirthlessly at the camera. Their physique is similar. Their round, putty faces, too—though George the Elder's is worn with age and more resembles Babe circa 1935. Accompanying these resolute Ruth men are a third drink-mixer, a waiter, a standing customer and seated dog, plus two little-noticed staff women in the far doorway. The long, tin-ceilinged tavern is elaborately festooned with Christmas tinsel, ornaments and lights. A spitoon trough lines the floor. Signs entice the coming dinner crowd to try the "Oyster Raw Bar" and "Take Home a Fry." A 25-cent purchase is rung up on the register.

     It was the last off-season that Babe and Helen spent in Baltimore before they bought a year-round home up in Boston. George Sr., for his part, continued running the business until August 25, 1918. Just a few days before the Red Sox clinched the pennant, Babe received word that his father had gotten into a brawling fistfight with a brother-in-law, cracked his skull on the pavement out front of Ruth's Cafe, and died within hours. Orphaned at 23, Babe never again spoke of the incident.

     This is, in our opinion, simply the finest known original photograph of this famous image. Preservation-wise, although there are noticeable condition flaws, such as a crease in the middle on the top and edge wear, the all-important central area of the Ruth’s themselves is wholly intact. What's more, in sharp contrast to inferior later-generation examples, this original, first-generation, Type I specimen boasts unmatched image clarity right down to every last minute detail of the dazzling scene. Dimensions of the photo are approximately 8 x 10 inches. This item comes with a LOA from PSA/DNA (1P07709), which classifies this as a Type I photograph.  Please note while this photograph has historically been listed as being taken in December 1915, the calendar on the wall of the bar (which is clear from this stellar original photograph) is turned to January and PSA/DNA is therefore unsure if the photo was shot in late December 1915 or early 1916. As a result, this LOA and all future LOAs issued by PSA/DNA will state 1915-16 as date of photo.

Finest Known Extremely Rare 1915 Babe Ruth and Father Original Type I Photograph in Their Baltimore Tavern Framed (PSA/DNA)
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $15,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $61,200.00
Number Bids: 13
Auction closed on Sunday, November 12, 2017.
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