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Lot #1616
Babe Ruth

The Babe signs a huge portrait for a Chicago speakeasy owner, one of only a handful of oversized portraits known to exist, quite possibly the first one offered since the Halper collection

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Description

The Babe signs a huge portrait for a Chicago speakeasy owner, one of only a handful of oversized portraits known to exist, quite possibly the first one offered since the Halper collection

Almost too good to be true! Vintage matte-finish 17 x 21.5 photo of Ruth at home plate of Comiskey Park, from the late 1920s, breaking out of the batter’s box, as his eyes follow the ball into the summer afternoon, signed and inscribed in fountain pen “To My Pal and a great fellow Ralph Jansen from Babe Ruth.” This photo resembles the style of George Burke, a legendary Chicago photographer who was the official team photographer for the Cubs, White Sox and Chicago Bears. Beautifully archivally suede and gilt matted and framed to 29.5 x 33.5. Inspected prior to framing, the photo is affixed to an identical size piece of foamcore applied at a previous time. In fine condition, with several small areas of surface loss to right edge, not detracting from image, slight graniness from enlargement, a couple light surface dings, the ink a shade lighter in several places, and the end of the inscription trailing into a dark area. Accompanied by a letter of provenance from a relative of the original recipient, which reads, in part, “This autographed photo of Babe Ruth was given, by the Babe, to my great uncle Ralph Jansen. Babe Ruth was a very close friend of my uncle and they were always doing things together. My uncle owned the Ivanhoe restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, and Babe was a frequent visitor at my uncle’s restaurant. My great aunt has told me many stories about the Babe and some of his personal habits… She said, that it was not uncommon to have Babe sitting on her back porch eating lobster tail with one hand and swigging from a beer bottle with the other. He would often eat 3 lobster tails and drink numerous beers…When Babe signed this photo…he truly meant what he wrote.” Founded in 1920 by Jansen, the Ivanhoe was a speakeasy at first, and then a famous and popular fine-dining restaurant, where patrons could descend to the atmospheric basement bar known as “The Catacombs.” COA Steve Grad/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #307 - Ended March 15, 2006