Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A movie poster overview for the beginning collector

Just about anyone who walks by a movie theater will see at least one poster hanging in the window advertising what’s playing.  These posters will eventually come down when new movies are released.

From 1940 to 1984, the National Screen Service produced the posters for the film studios.  The theaters would return the posters to the NSS so that they could be sent to other theaters.  During this time, movies were kept in the theaters for several years.  Because the posters were sent out to several theaters, they were often in rough shape when they were finally pulled from circulation.

Movie posters come in so many different sizes and varieties, it can make your head spin like a cheap horror movie villain’s head!  Here’s a brief breakdown:

Lobby cards—these were really popular in the 1910’s and 1920’s, and are small advertisements for the movies.  Lobby cards were usually produced in a set of 8 and hung all around the lobby of a theater (this is how they got their name),  and they tended to be black and white scenes from the movie that were often hand-tinted with some color.   These were discontinued in 1985 in the United States.  This type is very collectible for the fact that they are small--usually 11 inches by 14 inches or 8 inches by 10 inches.  They don’t require much display space.

Teaser Poster—these were sent to a theater to advertise a movie that was about to be released.  This type of poster is also known as an advance poster.  There really wasn’t too much information put on the poster.  It had the title, some of the people starring in the movie, and sometimes even a tagline for the movie.  Teaser poster sometimes were released way in advance of the movie to drive up hype, but occasionally funding ran short, and the project was shelved.  It would pay off to see if the movie was actually made if you buy a teaser poster.  Even if the movie was shelved, it could be more valuable if it featured a now-famous actor or director in one of their first movies.

Character Poster—this poster highlights one character from a movie currently playing.  Often, these are characters the public is already familiar with (the movie releasing can often be a sequel or part of a series).  For example, a character poster features Freddie Krueger from the Nightmare On Elm Street, or even Jason Voorhees of the Friday The 13th movies.

As with any collectible, be sure to do your research.  Posters are often reprinted if the movie is a smash hit (like Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, or even The Wizard Of OZ).  You could pick up the reprints at quite a few major retailers, or even online.  When you have an authentic poster, especially from one of these areas, they can really have some good value.

What kinds of movie posters would you proudly display on your wall?

Monday, April 15, 2013

It happened in 1947

April 15th 1947.  It was a Tuesday.  The first day of Major League Baseball is a day that people always look forward to, but this year was special.  Spring was in the air, the smell of hot dogs was wafting around, and Jackie Robinson was making his Major League debut.

When Jackie Robinson took to the field on this day, he became the first African American to play Major League Baseball.  He succeeded in every way possible, and eventually found his way to Cooperstown (which is where the Baseball Hall Of Fame is located).

The collectibles area that features either Jackie’s name or likeness is very wide-ranging.  It includes everything from hats, to jerseys, to ads, or even gloves.

One of the areas that is most sought-after are baseball cards.  Not only are they easy to store, they can also command a very pretty penny.

The downside to collectibles that feature Jackie Robinson is that there are plenty of reproductions or fantasy pieces.  Do your homework to see what an authentic piece looks like.

One of the best ways to tell if the card pictured above is authentic is to look for the TOPPS copyright information on the card.  This is always on the back of the card where the player’s stats are.  The other is to look at the paper stock that the card was made out of.  For 1956, TOPPS used paper stock that had no sheen to it, and the card itself is a little bigger than modern cards.  So if you have a question about a certain card, lay a modern card over it to compare the sizes.

The picture above shows what to look for about the size differences on the cards.
I always look forward to this time of year, with an umpire dusting off home plate and yelling, “PLAY BALL!” to start off the season.  Any other baseball collectors ready for a new season?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

To clean or not to clean, that is the question

One of the oldest questions in collecting is when to clean—or not to clean—an item.

Sometimes an item’s value will go up if it is cleaned, and other times the items value will go down.

Some items are perfectly fine to clean.  Costume jewelry, glassware, pottery, clothing from the 1970’s or  the 1980’s, and even graniteware are perfect for this area.  A little research can go a long way with these items, though.  You need to find out what can and can’t be used on an item; cleaner can potentially do damage that can’t be undone.  Things like graniteware can be cleaned with oven cleaner, while cheap costume jewelry can be cleaned with toothpaste that has baking soda in it.  Even Alka-Seltzer can be used to clean jewelry.

There are some items that you should take to someone that knows what they are doing when it comes to cleaning.  Artwork, antique books, pricy jewelry (pieces that feature precious stones like diamonds), quilts or antique clothing, and quilting samplers are items that fall in this category.

When it comes to old furniture, silver, gold, modern coins, brass or even copper, make sure that these don’t get cleaned.  The best way to ruin the value of these items is to get out the cleaner.  Patina on these pieces is a great thing to have; it helps prove an items age and provenance.

A great way to start is to get an appraisal of the item.  This way you know what you have.  If the item is in fact valuable and in the need of a cleaning, you could ask the appraiser for a recommendation.

I think the best rule of thumb is that if you have any doubts about cleaning an item, don’t!  Once the original finish is gone, there’s no getting it back.

Have you ever cleaned an item that you wished you hadn’t?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Broken Bank Notes From The 1800’s

This sounds like a plot from a book or even a movie, but this actually happened with the banking system.  During the early 1800’s, the banking system was not as safe as it is today.  The banks would go out of business almost as fast as they would open their doors for the first time.

When a bank opened, they were allowed by the United States Government through a charter to print their own paper money.  This was to help the country get the monetary system up and running.

But when a bank went out of business, the money that it produced became no good.  With the country being on the gold and silver standard (which means paper money could basically be traded in for silver or gold coins that equaled the face value of the paper money), it was impossible to take the money in to redeem it.

So how did businesses and other banks know that a bank had gone out of business?  The most common method was to check a list of out-of-business banks, also called “broken banks.”  But many banks folded before they could be added to the list, leaving some businesses with worthless money in exchange for goods and services.
Because it was so problematic, the banking system stopped printing money—it became the job of the BEP (which is the Bureau Of Engraving And Printing).  This early form of printing paper money created two types of collectibles—“Broken Bank” Notes and Obsolete United States paper money!