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Cartier. A Fine 18k Gold Twenty Dollar Coin Watch, Given from American Baseball Legend Babe Ruth to his friend and well-known New York Gangster "Bumpy Johnson"
Cartier. A Fine 18k Gold Twenty Dollar Coin Watch, Given from American Baseball Legend Babe Ruth to his friend and well-known New York Gangster "Bumpy Johnson"

SIGNED CARTIER, EUROPEAN WATCH & CLOCK CO. INC., NO. 17426, MOVEMENT NO. 26'704, MANUFACTURED IN 1926

Details
Cartier. A Fine 18k Gold Twenty Dollar Coin Watch, Given from American Baseball Legend Babe Ruth to his friend and well-known New York Gangster "Bumpy Johnson"
Signed Cartier, European Watch & Clock Co. Inc., No. 17426, Movement No. 26'704, Manufactured in 1926
Movement: Manual, 18 jewels
Dial: Silvered, Roman numerals
Case: Twenty dollar 18k gold coin, engraved to one side, LIBERTY, 1908 and Lady Liberty, and to the reverse; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, TWENTY DOLLARS, and an eagle, button in the band, inside case engraved; TO BUMPY FROM BABE, DEC 25TH, 1937
Signed: Dial and movement signed
Accompanied By: A copy of Cartier's manufacturing records, and a reprint baseball card of Babe Ruth
Provenance
Baby Ruth, 1926 (presumably) to 1937
Bumpy Johnson 1937 -1968
Presumably in Bumpy's family 1968-2000
Ms. Bobbi Barrow 2000-2016
Current owner 2016-present

Condition Report

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Lot Essay

The present Cartier coin watch was completed in July, 1926. At the time, making a movement to fit a coin, remarkably thin of 1.55 mm thick, was an achievement costing about three times more what a regular movement would cost. In addition, the movement is of the highest quality with 18 red ruby jewels, adjusted to cold, heat, isochronism, and five positions.

Babe Ruth and Bumpy Johnson

One of those names that perhaps transcends the game of baseball, George Herman "Babe" Ruth is perhaps the most famous player in the history of American professional baseball. Garnering such nicknames as "The Great Bambino", "The Sultan of Swat", "The Colossus of Clout", and "The King Of Crash", Babe Ruth played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Boston Braves. Ruth set and held the career home run record with 714 home runs upon his retirement in 1935 that was not surpassed until Henry "Hank" Aaron surpassed him in 1974. Truly a larger than life personality and player, baseball items associated with Babe Ruth are some of the most collected memorabilia in the world.

Babe, while enjoying success and acclaim in the sports arena, was also known to also enjoy the city nightlife. From a young age he was caught trouble making, wandering the yards and taunting police officers. It is no wonder then that during the 1920s and 30s in the age of prohibition, gangsters and mobs, that Babe, now a celebrity and hero, liked to walk on the wild side. It is sure that Babe struck friendships with many known and sometimes feared personalities of the time, one which was New York gangster Ellsworth Raymond Johnson, also known as “Bumpy” Johnson. Bumpy was an American mob boss and bootlegger in the New York City’s Harlem. The main Harlem associate of the Genovese crime family, his life has inspired films such as American Gangster, 2007.

A gift from Babe to Bumpy likely for Christmas, the present watch is a symbol of a friendship; The inside case back reads;

TO BUMPY FROM BABE, DEC 25TH, 1937


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