Previously Unknown Babe Ruth Card, Spanish Games and Sports Set Discovered in the UK
A new Spanish variation of the well-known Games and Sports in Many Lands set is found in the UK
The Sports and Games in Many Lands set has gotten more recognition in recent years. This set distributed primarily in the UK has gotten more popular with collectors because it features a card of the legendary Babe Ruth. And as Ruth’s more common domestic issues have risen significantly in value, a spotlight has turned onto his more affordable international issues, such as that card.
The card does not name Ruth. That has led some to wonder if it really is him. However, the image is the same one used on his 1929 Shonen Club postcard, which does name Ruth. That essentially makes this a Ruth card, despite the fact that his name is not on it.
While a few different iterations of the set are known, the most commonly seen one is the 1929 Churchman set. So many of the cards with the Churchman brand are found, in fact, that many collectors probably believe that is the only variant. However, a second issue of the same cards are also found with the Edwards Ringer and Bigg name, as well as a third separate, unbranded British American Tobacco version.
For years, only those three brands were widely known to collectors. But a fourth variation of the set is now known as it was recently discovered.
Collector John Morton found a near set of the cards in an online auction in the UK. After researching them a bit, Morton decided to consign the cards to Heritage. The cards are scheduled to appear in their Winter Platinum Night Auction on February 25 and 26.
The interesting find includes a near set with 24 of the 25 cards. It is essentially confirmed as a complete parallel to the other known variations. We can say that because, the 24 cards all are found in the other sets and the backs of them state they are part of a series of 25 (like the others). The only card missing is the ice hockey card.
According to Morton, the Ruth and football cards are headed to PSA for grading prior to the auction. Ruth will be sold separately from the rest of the set. As an added bonus to the find, the cards appear to be in nice condition. Morton says the cards are crease-free and in mid-grade shape.
The images on the card fronts are the same as the others. And while Morton says the stock of the cards are slightly thinner than the others, the most significant difference is that the biographies of the backs of the cards are in Spanish.
Shown here is the back of the standard Churchman Ruth card (right) along with the Spanish version from this set (left). The image in the middle is the Google-translated variation of the Spanish card. Notably, the card mentions that attempts have been made to introduce the sport in Chile as opposed to the Churchman variation, which mentions England instead. The mention of Chile suggests that is the likely origin of these cards.
The dates of the Spanish cards are unknown. While the Churchman issue was released in 1929, the other two previously known sets are typically credited as 1930s issues.
How many of these cards are out there? That’s impossible to say, of course. But given that the other variations of the set are quite known and this is the first widespread known instance of this set, suffice to say, there aren’t many around. Some may point out that the Edwards Ringer and Bigg cards, as well as the British American Tobacco cards, are fairly rare. That is true but they certainly are more populous than this Spanish variant.
Another great find and the Ruth card, in particular, will certainly command interest from collectors. While decent raw copies of the Churchman cards typically start around $300-$400, this one, certainly, should command significantly more.
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