Obscure Card of the Month: Babe Ruth 1937 Donut Corporation Thrilling Moments

The Obscure Card of the Month is a rare bakery card of the legendary Babe Ruth

You’ll find Babe Ruth on all sorts of baseball cards from his playing days. But one of his rarest pre-war cards was issued soon after he retired.

One of the more unique pre-war sports card sets is the 1937 Donut Corporation Thrilling Moments series. These cards were issued on boxes of donuts and, as you might imagine, many were discarded. A small amount of these cards were preserved, however, and while the set includes several valuable cards, the real prize in the set is a card of the iconic Ruth.

Ruth isn’t named on the card but that’s because the subjects on the cards in the set are identified by captions rather than their actual names. Ruth’s card, for example, is titled, “Beloved Baseball Idol of All Boys.”

Still, we know the card pictures Ruth for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the swinging batter bears a striking resemblance to the Yankees slugger. And as I wrote here, it’s a similar image found on many other Ruth cards. But second, and more importantly, Ruth is indeed named as the subjects in the companion album designed to store these cards. Ruth, too, is named on the boxes as well as several other subjects in the series.

The picture on the front of the card features a swinging Ruth against a yellow background. All of the cards in the set featured single-color ink backgrounds and Ruth’s just happens to be yellow. The back of the Ruth card (and others) is blank.

Because the cards were hand cut, you will find these with all sorts of minor size variations. Some of those variations include the caption missing at the bottom. A good number of collectors, it seemed, were not fans of those labels and it is not uncommon to find these with those cut off — similar to the removal of tobacco brand names that were removed from some 19th century trading cards like Allen & Ginter and Old Judge. The standard size for these cards, though, is roughly 2″ wide by 3″ tall. And because they were printed on boxes, the cardboard is somewhat thick.

One interesting thing is that, despite the card’s desirability and value, it is not an actual playing days card of Ruth. Ruth retired after a disappointing campaign in 1935 with the Boston Braves that saw him hit only .181. These cards were not printed until two years after that retirement.

But unlike many other post-career cards of Ruth, this one is not a cheap issue. That is partly because it was so close to his career and, of course, also the rarity.

Not too long ago, low-grade examples of the card could be purchased for under $500. Today, though, more collectors are understanding of its rarity. These days, even low-grade examples usually sell for more than $1,000.

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