There are plenty of Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey cards among us but few are in such high grade as one that will be offered in Goldin’s upcoming Summer Auction.
A spectacular, nearly-flawless PSA 9 of Ruth’s No. 181 card will be offered for sale this summer (details still to come on the auction). Per Goldin’s email, this is the first PSA 9 of a Ruth Goudey card to be publicly offered for sale in 15 years.
Card No. 181 is arguably the most classic pose of the four Ruth cards. It’s the one, pictured here in Goldin’s ad, with the light green background. Ruth has more expensive cards, obviously, but it’s really one of the most iconic pre-war cards around when you think of it.
If you get a picture in your head of some of the more popular-looking pre-war baseball cards, it’s hard to not have the Ruth be one of those images. At least for me, anyway. It’s a very popular looking card and one I suggest that many collectors of even newer cards have seen.
Extremely Rare, But …
Interestingly, when I looked up the PSA population reports on the card, I was surprised to see that, not only was this not the only PSA 9, but that there were actually five others (as well as a sixth with a qualifier). That won’t hamper what will be a massive sale, but I was surprised to see so many.
That number is also the most quantity of high-end 1933 Goudey Ruths among his other three cards in the set as well. Ruth’s No. 53 card has only a single PSA 9. There are four PSA 9s of the No. 144 card but that one is double-printed, so you’d expect to see more there as many more overall have been graded. Finally, Ruth’s No. 149 has no straight PSA 9s. In addition, the only Ruth PSA 10 is also found on, you guessed it, this one – card No. 181.
It’s not just 9s, either. Card No. 181 has also produced more 8s than (with the exception of the double-printed No. 144) the others as well.
But Why? Well …
As a chief meddler, why there’s been such success with getting a high grade out of card No. 181 was something that was interesting to me. No one can say for sure but I’m wondering if the placement on the printing sheets had something to do with it.
In studying pictures of them, Ruth’s No. 53 card and No. 149 cards are both situated on the edges of their sheets. And while one of his double-printed No. 144 cards is in the middle of a sheet, another is on the border as well. Set away from the borders, that could be the reason more high-grades of this card have survived more than any other. It could have helped the cards avoid minor dings and other issues before the cards were cut and inserted into packs.
Whatever the reason, though, it’s the one where your chances of finding a high-end one seem the best.
So where’s this one end up when it’s sold? Hard to say. Recent PSA 8s have mostly sold in the $40,000 – $50,000 range. The most recent one sold for March for a little over $45,000 but one did reach $66,000 last year. That’s the thing with these high-grade, ultra rare cards reserved for mostly the richer among us. Higher price tag means a greater chance for fluctuation because you have fewer people involved than those bidding on low-end cards.
PSA doesn’t have a record of the last PSA 9 sold but, as it was so long ago as Goldin points out, that number can all but be thrown out the window, anyway. Will be fun tracking this one and it will help establish a market for a very rare and expensive card.