Babe Ruth Signed Photograph, ca. 1920
This photo was at my grandfather's house and he gave it to my father. My grandfather lived in West Hollywood. He used to rent rooms out. And I'm not quite sure how he got it-- if he rented it out to this person, Harry Weber, perhaps, or not.
And as we can see, it's Babe Ruth. It's to Harry Weber and we did a little research on Harry Weber. Harry was a theatrical agent.
Yes, a Vaudevillian agent, yes.
And one of Babe Ruth's very first agents. This says, "To Harry Weber, Yours for Vaudeville, Babe Ruth." Now, we see a lot of Babe Ruth items on the show. Babe Ruth signed a lot of pieces over the years and people kept them. What makes this one stand out, however, is a few things. First, the size. It's oversized. Generally, when you see a photo like this of Ruth, it's much smaller. The next thing is that it's very early. This is Ruth on the ascent. He's a New York Yankee now, he's getting a lot of exposure for the home runs. And during the off-season, he's a big-time attraction on the Vaudeville circuit. So he would go and appear with tap dancers and jugglers and comedians, and he would do a little skit. And people would come from all over to see Babe Ruth. And this was a way he could make some extra money at the time. Also, he started appearing in some silent movies around this time, as well. And what's wonderful about it is, we can basically date the signature, because it's a certain type of signature he signed early on in his career. We know that this is from 1920, '21, '22-- somewhere in that time period. So very early for the Babe. It's in beautiful condition. The signature is very bold considering it's quite old now. And it's a lovely photo. The clarity of the photo's very strong. Do you have any idea what it might be worth?
No, I've seen some online for $3,000 or $4,000, but no.
Yeah, and Babe Ruth photographs can sell $3,000, $4,000, $5,000, $10,000, depending on a really nice one. But, you see, because of the size and because of the age of the signature and the vintage of the signature and the condition, it's spectacular.
It's wonderful, and I would put an auction estimate of this photo somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000.
Oh, my gosh.
I wouldn't be surprised if it sold for more. It's that good.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.