The Ultimate Six-Figure Autograph: The 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth!

Babe Ruth is one of the most easily recognized athletes in all of sports history. Despite not exactly being in the best shape physically, and despite his off-field lifestyle habits, the man that started out as a star pitcher became baseball’s home run king. Even the actual quality of his home run record is more impressive than that of Hank Aaron and then of Barry Bonds. PWCC Marketplace now has an autographed 1933 Goudey (#181) Babe Ruth card up for auction in its June (2022) monthly Premier Auction.

Collectors Dashboard has evaluated the ultimate value of a signed Babe Ruth baseball. These autographed relics are highly sought after by collectors. A signed Babe Ruth baseball is not all that rare. There is even a photo of The Babe signing a mountain of baseballs on a couch, and Babe Ruth would sign almost anything for free when he was a player. What is not so common at all when it comes to Babe Ruth autographs is signed Babe Ruth cards from his playing days.

There are literally thousands of combined Babe Ruth autographed items that still exist some 90 or so years after his career ended — index cards, autograph book pages, letters, checks, photos and other loose paper items signed by Ruth. Signing baseball cards before the conventions of the 1970s and in more recent years was just actually not all that common of a practice. Collectors should pay a special tribute to the 1933 Goudey set because without this set very few collectors would be able to afford a Babe Ruth card from his playing years.

Signed Goudey Babe Ruth cards are scarce. Actually, any signed card of Babe Ruth is scarce. PSA’s graded population is just 8 autographed cards for the #181 card. That still leaves autographed examples of Ruth’s other 3 cards from the 1933 Goudey set (see details below). Either way, this card is scarce and collectors are chasing its value. The image below has been taken from PWCC Marketplace.

autographed Babe Ruth baseball card

The auction ends on June 16, 2022 and its most recent current bid was $95,000. PWCC also laid out just how rare this card is considering the additional 3 Goudey cards that have signed examples:

PSA has encapsulated 6 signed examples of card #53, 7 of #144, 4 of #149, and 8 of #181 (this issue). So, only 25 signed PSA examples exist. This card is a 1/25 ‘33 Goudey Ruth PSA/DNA Auto. As far as Ruth investments go, it is hard to imagine how a collector can go wrong buying an extremely scarce card of the game’s most iconic athlete from a hugely popular set. We expect tremendous interest in this card.

The other issue to consider here is that the autograph’s presentation is nothing short of stunning. With a “AUTO 9” grade (of 10), the signature is clear and bold. PWCC even said:

It is rare that an example surfaces with a signature on it, let alone a PSA/DNA 9. The darkness of the ink in this auto is something that we do not see in most Ruth signatures. They are usually faded or in light ink, especially on baseballs. This signature is so dark and rich that you might feel Ruth’s presence if you look closely. Although the back of this card has an ink stain, the front of it has tremendous eye appeal—a relatively clean surface, good centering, and preserved color.

Collectors Dashboard evaluates high-end collectibles as an alternative asset class. That means that sports collectibles of this caliber are attracting the same capital that may have just as easily ended up in stocks, bonds and other more traditional investment vehicles. That of course comes with no guarantee of a profit — and a new bear market in stocks and the destruction of value in long-term bond prices only solidifies that there can be no expectations of a profit being assured over time. That said, PWCC does identify this alternative asset theme specifically:

As far as Ruth investments go, it is hard to imagine how a collector can go wrong buying an extremely scarce card of the game’s most iconic athlete from a hugely popular set. We expect tremendous interest in this card.

Card buyers often have to accept some condition issues on graded cards. This particular card presents beautifully on the front despite some rounded corners. The picture quality is strong and the green color of the card is strong. Its one weakness is a significant black ink stain on the back which would hurt the card if it were graded solely on the merits of the card’s own condition outside of the autograph (Image below by PWCC Marketplace). Then again, without the signature the ink stain may not have ever ended up there in the first place. The PSA encapsulation of this 1933 Goudey card also lists the card as the actual 1933 Goudey rather than the typical “Trading Card” designation that PSA is sometimes criticized over.

What the ultimate price will be remains to be be seen here. After the 20% buyer’s premium, this is already a $100,000 card!