Reviewing Babe Ruth’s Two W515 Strip Cards

Only one player in the 1923 W515 strip card set is featured twice — Babe Ruth

The 1923 W515 strip card set is not known for its great imagery. I’ve written about Ty Cobb’s hideous-looking card before but, in reality, none of the pictures are that great. That includes the two used for the legendary Babe Ruth, but the aesthetics are neither here nor there, really.

Ruth is the only player featured twice in the set and, as you can imagine, his cards are the most sought after. That’s usually the case in any set that contains Ruth, with the exception of another card that might be shortprinted or that features a big time rookie card. So the fact that his cards here are the most valuable is of little surprise.

Why Ruth has two cards in the set isn’t immediately clear. As he’s the only player in the 60-card release with two cards, I suppose you can chalk it up to his overwhelmingly popularity. But, unlike other cards that reflect team changes, that’s not the case here. By 1923, the year this set is believed to have been released, Ruth had been a member of the New York Yankees for a few years.

1923 was a landmark year for the slugger. Leading the league in home runs, RBI, runs, walks, and slugging percentage, while batting career best .393, he won his first Most Valuable Player Award.

But what about his two W515 cards?

One is a half-body pose of sorts while the other is a closeup of Ruth’s face. Neither is all that attractive but if I had my pick, in terms of looks, I’d probably lean towards the half-body shot. It seems slightly less offensive and that’s probably because Ruth’s face shows less detail than the one on his relatively poorly drawn portrait card.

The most significant difference, aside from the pictures, I suppose, is that the full portrait card has an abbreviated N.Y. designation for Ruth’s team name while the half-body picture spells out that name entirely — New York.

But which, if any, is the better card? For the most part, both appear to be equals.

In terms of rarity, the large portrait (No. 3) seems to be a touch more plentiful. Across PSA, SGC, and Beckett, there are approximately 165 of those graded as opposed to 144 of the half-body card (No. 47). But that difference is hardly eye-opening and neither is any sort of a shortprint. Unsurprisingly, prices are not much different, either. Both cards typically start in the $800-$1,000 price range in low-grade condition.

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