Solving The Mystery Of A Family Letter 'Signed' By Babe Ruth

on Thursday, 15 January 2015. Posted in Autograph forgeries

by David Seideman

Almost every weekday morning, one of my new friends at the wonderful coffee house where I do a lot of my work, the Brooklyn Commune in my Windsor Terrace neighborhood, folds his New York Times up in a small square to work on the crossword puzzle. We talk current baseball— both of us are long-suffering Mets fans— and baseball history.
He’s old enough to have grown up in Harlem, a 15-minute bus trip from the Polo Grounds, watching Willie Mays play in his prime— baseball’s equivalent of watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to Howard (he asked that I not divulge his real name) my Forbes beat and his eyes lit up. Going through his great aunt’s papers years ago, he told me that he came across a letter to her and her family from Babe Ruth written in 1947 while he was in the hospital fighting the cancer that would claim his life the following year.

babe ruth_article_1

One of my friend’s ancestors clipped an example of Babe Ruth’s signature from a magazine to compare it to the one on the letter.

The next day at the coffee house Howard pulled out of his satchel a small envelope like the kind you use to mail a wedding invitation.   “BABE RUTH NEW YORK” was printed on its back. The Sultan of Swat typed and signed a letter on matching stationary thanking the family for their good wishes.

After writing so much over the years about the big-shot dealers and collectors, now it was my turn! Here was a Babe Ruth autograph fresh to the hobby and worth several thousand dollars. I would pay Howard straight up for his letter and keep it. Or maybe flip it. Or maybe I would broker a deal with one of the top sports auction houses for Howard to show him and the world that I am a heavy-hitter. Babe Ruth’s autograph looked exactly like the one Howard’s relative had torn out of a magazine a long time ago and precisely like examples on the web.


I immediately photographed the letter and envelope and emailed them to two autograph authorities I like for, among other reasons, responding quickly to my Forbes inquiries. “I have often said that the world could be coming to an end and the value of [Ty} Cobb and “[Babe] Ruth would continue to increase,” writes Ron Keurajian, the hardline author of Baseball Hall of Fame Autographs.   “These are the two giants of baseball and demand is so great it cannot be quantified. The beautiful thing about their signatures is that they are recession proof and discovery proof. In good times or bad, the value always seem to increase.” Josh Evans, founder and chairman of Lelands, one of the country’s oldest sports auction houses, also believes demand outstrips supply.

babe ruth_article_2


The heart-warming sentiments Babe Ruth expressed on his stationary during his terminal illness  still makes this an interesting collectible.

In their opinion, Howard’s Babe Ruth is a “secretarial” or is “ghost signed.” There was no intention to deceive, merely keep up with the overwhelming demand. In this case, given the mail bags of letters Ruth was surely receiving every day, he probably designated his nurse or his secretary to sign for him. “I don’t think it’s a stamp,” Evans says. “I think it’s just a very clean looking secretarial. This looks like a one of a kind letter in the content.” Since it was vintage Babe Ruth material, Evans estimated its worth to still be from $300 to $500, though he declined to buy or sell it in one of his auctions. He didn’t want an unscrupulous buyer passing it off as genuine.

babe ruth_article_3

Josh Evans thinks the letter may be one of a kind, but the autograph is a secretarial.

By many accounts, Ruth’s signature is one of the most commonly forged in the hobby. Keurajian says to look for telltale signs like the “fast bouncy feel of a genuine Ruth,” “uniform lines,” and “variant pressure.” If this sounds a little arcane and stressful, it is;  and it’s a big reason why you should be leery of autographs peddled by unknowledgeable dealers at flea markets and antique shows; you’re playing with fire.  In addition to relying on the top authentication companies, PSA/DNA and JSA, do your own homework and buy from reputable sources like the respected auction houses I write about.

Howard was disappointed with my news, but took it in stride and said he would keep his Ruth letter for sentimental value because he cherished it as a family heirloom.

babe ruth_article_4


Babe Ruth signed baseballs are not that rare. He was very accommodating to fans and there are photos of him signing buckets of balls. Several are up for sale now through Lelands, Heritage, and other auction houses. (Courtesy of Ronald S. Glaser collection)

full article:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidseideman/2015/01/15/solving-the-mystery-of-a-family-letter-signed-by-babe-ruth/








Hunting Channel

  • Autograph Collecting Report - Berlinale film festival 2012

    Autograph Collecting Report - Berlinale film festival 2012

    Autograph Collecting at the Berlinale film festival was difficult this year. During the cold weather celebrities didn't stay long time outside but we still have some great success while many stars had been kind and friendly and signed some wonderful photographs for us.
  • Collecting autographs at F1 Grand Prix at Monaco 2012

    Collecting autographs at F1 Grand Prix at Monaco 2012


    5027070
    Sebastian Vettel:

    All the time Sebastian was surrounded by his fans when he was on his way from the Red Bull hospitality to the pit lane. He tried to write many autographs, but it was very difficult because of the hectic around and because of the bodyguards. When he was able to sign his signature was ugly.

  • Barcelona 2010: The master is back

    Barcelona 2010: The master is back

    Jenson Button:

    Jenson was difficult to collect. His Motohome war located inside the paddock and everytime he had a break of testing he disappeared inside. The only chance to collect his autograph was to wait in front of his truck. Then it was possible to get 1 autograph.

  • NBA Global Games 2014 in Berlin

    NBA Global Games 2014 in Berlin

    NBA Global Games 2014 in Berlin was great opportunity for basketball fans to obtain autographs from members of NBA Champions San Antonio Spurs. A game was planned on 8th October, but the team already arrived to Berlin on 5th October. I came to capitol of Germany 1 day later. It gave me more than a 2 days to collect.  Players, coaches and stuff stayed in The Ritz Carlton Hotel, well-situated in the city centre, not so far Grosser Tiergarten or Brandenburg Tor, what furthered to coming out of hotel.

Tell us your story

pelikan cover_smallIf you like to share knowledge, collectibles of your collection or autograph related articles we would be glad to hear from you.

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.