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    A hobby masterpiece is officially cataloged

    1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181 U.S. Patent/Copyright Card PSA Authentic. It is perhaps our favorite image of the game's greatest figure, a status it would retain even had it not been created for inclusion in the first great baseball bubble gum trading card issue. It's a matter of personal taste, of course--others might prefer the full form posture of the #144 card, or the tighter focus on that image used for #53 and #149, but the deft brush work, the delicate detail of this #181 portrait sets this work apart from that which spawned the other three Ruth representations of the 1933 Goudey set. It's the most "honest" work, losing the soft focus that turns the other work into an homage to a legend rather than a study of a man, one who finds himself on the downward slope of a storied career here. The deep lines on his face tell the tale of a life lived to the fullest.

    The portrait is the work of Saul Arkin, whose name joins that of the text's author Elmer Crowell on the patent form that accompanies the trading card. The patent form features handwritten text and assigns a patent date and serial number of "Sept. 13, 1933" and "128515" respectively, information that appears in stamped format on verso of the Ruth card. Aside from this stamping, this remarkable Ruth specimen survives in stunning NRMT condition, the perfectly registered image framed inside well-balanced borders turning at razor-sharp corners. This is not simply the very first Ruth #181, but also one of the finest.

    The result is a true population-one-of-one treasure, certainly one of the most desirable Ruth trading cards ever to appear on the hobby's auction block. Encapsulated by PSA, Authentic.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2014
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,762

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