Fewer than ten examples of the 1917-20 Felix Mendelsohn Babe Ruth card have been graded by either grading company. That so few examples are known to exist of the most popular player of the era and the issue’s undisputed key is a true testament to the rarity of the issue.
More interesting – and certainly more important, however – is the fact that Ruth’s 1917-20 Felix Mendelsohn card is the first card to depict him as a member of the New York Yankees. Initially issued listing Ruth with the Red Sox, the card was changed after the Babe was sold to the Yankees. Today, it remains one of the most rare of all Ruth’s cards, orders of magnitude more so than his acknowledged “rookie” card, the M101-4/5.
The Mendelsohn cards were offered in advertisements in The Sporting News for the price of $5 for 100 pictures. Since the set was issued over a three-year period, more than 100 different subjects are known, and more may yet to be discovered. The Ruth, however, stands far above the rest.
This example presents far better than the technical grade, a victim of the grading issues that occur with oversized cards such as this (it measures 4 3/8″ x 6 3/8″ and is housed in SGC’s holder for cabinet cards). The surface and corner wear is visible but unobtrusive, some mild wrinkling on the surface made more noticeable due to the size of the card. The reverse exhibits some staining, not easily evident on the card front. None of the wear obstructs the image of Ruth, an image similar to his M101-4 or E121 cards, though considerably larger and more clear. Quite possibly the most attractive of all the photographic issues of Ruth, simply due to its size.