Newsletter #229

October 24, 2003

Greetings Accumulators!

We are approaching that dreary time of year when the clocks get turned back. It means waking up in the dark and coming home in the dark, and shivering a lot of the time. I don't even know why we have Daylight Savings Time, but I'm always unhappy when it ends. And so is He Who Is The Light Of My Life. He gets angry when it's dark at 4:30PM. The truth is that it's just 7 weeks of real darkness, before the daylight hours begin to lengthen again. Of course, he has to listen to me complain about the temperature. As someone who is only happy between 50 and 80 degrees fahrenheit, I'm almost always dissatisfied with the temperature. Harrumph!

Congratulations to the Lava Lamp, now celebrating its 40th birthday. It's been quite a ride to maturity! Once adored by young people who stared at it, stupified, from the water bed, it is now considered a "modern classic", with no bong necessary to enjoy its gently moving submerged blobs. Potheads of the sixties and seventies are now united with the likes of The British Design Council and many collectors, in thinking the lava lamp is "groovy". In fact, there is a lava lamp on permanent exhibit in The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The lamp, which consists of colored globs of oozing wax suspended in water (mixed with a cocktail of “secret ingredients”) and encased in an illuminated glass tube, made its first appearance in 1963 and immediately sold in the millions. It achieved cult status when it began to appear on the sets of TV shows, movies, magazines and orange shag rug-decorated rooms everywhere. The lamp reached its height of popularity in the seventies, but the market tanked by the eighties. In the late nineties, a young entrepeneur bought the rights to the original company and by the end of the decade, the lava lamp was back! Prices for vintage lamps average just under $200, making them out of the reach of the deadheads who originally owned them. Bummer, Man!

This story reads like a whodunit, where everyone is a suspect. One Lawrence Cusack, 53, of Connecticut is cooling his heels in prison for nine years, the result of his mail and wire fraud conviction in 1999. He swindled collectors out of $7 million by selling them phony documents attributed to the late President John F. Kennedy. Cusack claimed the documents came from the secret files of his late father, an attorney, whom he said was a private confidant of JFK. He claimed that Cusack Senior secretly advised Kennedy on everything from Marilyn Monroe to J. Edgar Hoover, and that he received private correspondence from the President, which he stowed away in the files. Cusack,with the help of memorabilia dealer John Reznikoff, sold the bogus artifacts between 1993 and 1997 for about $7 million. They were, of course, all made up by Cusack. As part of their investigation, the FBI seized the bogus documents from the unsuspecting collectors. Now, the collectors are demanding their property back. Hmmmm. Why would they want their fake documents back? The FBI thinks they're going to try and resell them, so it has filed suit in Federal Court to get permission to destory the documents, in order to keep them off the collectibles market. Stay tuned. The ensuing fight could be a doozie, and the documents, wrong as they are, could wind up being collectibles in their own right. Stupid, but true. Cusack will be out of circulation until November, 2007. No word on whether he's the star of Storytelling Hour every night.

The Donruss Company, manufacturer of sports cards,has stepped over the line.They have destroyed a valuable collectible for the sake of publicity and a marketing plan. The company purchased a 1925 game-worn Babe Ruth baseball jersey at auction last year for $264,210. They have cut the pinstriped jersey, one of only three in existence, into 2100 pieces, to be inserted into 2,100 packs of baseball cards. And believe me, Accumulators, sports collectibles nuts will scramble to get them. No word on how they'll market Derek Jeeter's underwear.

Postcards From Disneyland - This site depicts Disneyland when it was a happy place, before it became Large Corporation Central. The site's owner has collected hundreds of postcards, divided here by section of the theme park. I like Fantasyland, but Toon Town is good too. LINK
Great Buildings - crammed into the world's great cities are gigantic works of art everywhere. They are beautiful examples of the work of architects: buildings that are a thrill to behold. The site modestly calls itself "the leading architecture reference site on the web". I believe it. LINK

Well, Accumulators, the weekend begins. Tomorrow is Homecoming Day at the high school of the lovely Mallory Jaye Cohen, so we're off to watch her last halftime cheerleading show. Then it's up to the country house. Those leaves won't rake themselves, will they now? Have a great weekend, Accumulators, and a great week. Happy hunting


© 2003 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #229
U.S. Library of Congress
ISSN 1520-4464


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