Newsletter #83

May 14, 1999

Greetings Accumulators!
It certainly is May! I hope you've all begun scouring the newspapers and planning your routes for this weekend's plethora of yard and garage sales. I'll be posting a guide to smart yard sale shopping on the Twin Brooks website. Look for it some time during the coming week.

If you've ever heard one of my TV tirades about "limited edition" collectibles, you'll understand why I'm losing respect for sports memorabilia. I firmly believe that an object manufactured in multiples, that is collectible just because its purveyor says it's collectible rarely exists. But, I have accepted (not approved, accepted)that people will pay high prices for player-autographed never-worn jerseys, and even higher prices for jerseys actually worn by their idols. This, however, is pushing the envelope of tasteful high-priced collectibility: Mastro Fine Sports Auctions of Oak Brook, IL just sold the foot cast worn by Michael Jordan in 1985 for $9,000. Yucko!!! His 1987 driver's license went for almost $14,000 (Right. I'm sure it was in his back pocket at every game).

An era ended with the closing, in 1997, of The Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles, after its owner was murdered. Opened in 1942, with no light bulbs in the marquee in compliance with wartime blackout rules, "The Movie" was frequented for decades by film students, historians and fans who came to see its 16mm and 35mm silent films. Now, its treasure trove of movies, some of them so rare as to be extinct; its archive of stills; its collection of large format celebrity photos that adorned its lobby walls; clippings and other Hollywood memorabilia are being auctioned by Butterfield and Butterfield. The sale of more than 1,500 films, to take place on May 23 and 24, includes CB Demille's "King Of Kings", Lon Chaney's "Phantom Of The Opera", Laurel and Hardy's "Two Tars", Harold Lloyd's "Dr. Jacik" and rare footage of the comedy team of WC Fields and Chester Conklin. The auctioneers are cataloguing the sale, and will determine whether any of these films are the only existing copies. The sale will also include more than 13,000 still photographs and a tremendous early Hollywood clipping collection. If you still admire Chaplin, Pickford, Barrymore, Fairbanks and Valentino - leave a bid! For more information, call Michael Schwartz (no relation!) at (323)850-7500.

I wrote last week about reproduction paper toys and wood toys with lithographed paper decoration. Let us turn to dolls.

The more primitive a doll is, the easier it is to reproduce cheaply and accurately. There is a reproduction circulating, a carved wooden peg doll. Originals were made in the first half of the 19th century. The doll was jointed, with wooden pegs holding the joints. Faces and bodies were both handpainted. Easy to do today, no? In places where labor is cheap, these dolls are being handmade, also with wooden pegs, and also handpainted. The key to the new dolls is their paint, which has a sort of crackled finish, full of streaks and specks. In places where the surface paint is chipped, the red primer coat shows through.

Lots of you will know what I mean when I write about a "topsy turvy doll". It's a doll with two heads, one on each end of the body. It's usually dressed in a long flowing skirt, which hides the other head when the doll stands upright. These dolls are a late Victorian invention (1875 - 1900), frequently featuring one white head and one black one. I'm afraid we're all going to have a tough time telling the old from the new, for the new ones are made in fabrics just like the old ones, and they're all hand stitched too. The new ones do look too clean and perfect, but that can be eliminated easily enough. Your best bet is to use a black light on the white stitching on the head. The new thread will fluoresce bright white.

Well- no sense spending such a beautiful day in here with me, is there? I'm going to let you get out there with your mug of coffee and your classified section. Artie and I are headed up to the country house to do a little cleanup, a little gardening and a little shopping. Have a great week, Accumulators. Happy hunting!


1999 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #83
U.S. Library of Congress
ISSN 1520-4464


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1999 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.