It is time for the WorthPoint top 10 searches for February. This is actually a fun column to write and has gotten some good feedback. As always, it is fun to observer what other people are looking at:
Mathmos Lunar lava lamp.
Lava Lamps: These are very popular as retro items from the 1960s and are very popular with a 12- to 25-year-old buying group. The higher-end ones are also popular with an older, 50-year-old crowd, like me, who want to go back to an easier time and chill. Some advice on buying these is to make sure that you know what you are buying and pay for what you are getting. There are a lot of reproductions out in the market. That is not bad; as the buyer may want the “look.” But make sure you pay the price of a reproduction. My second piece of advice is to be sure that the lamp is working before you pay for it. I have seen some of these at garage sales where you are told it is ”only missing the bulb” and you get it home and it does not work. (Some require nonstandard bulbs.) The fun news is you can still find older ones at garage sales. My favorites, when I scanned through the 185 pages of lava lamps online in the Worthopedia, was the Mathmos Lunar lava lamp. A vintage 31.5-inch-tall one sold for $600.
Tom Thumb Typewriter.
Tom Thumb Typewriter: These were toy typewriters put out around 1960 and, for some reason, typewriters are a popular collectible. Condition is everything on these, as kids beat on them and sometimes they would get taken out into the yard and would rust in the rain. It is always nice to have a toy in the original box, and it is no exception with these. It is still a reasonably priced toy and can be sold for $15-$60.
1957 Topps Mantle/Berra #407 Power Hitters card.
1957 Topps Mantle/Berra #407 Power Hitters card: This card made it to the top for the second month in a row. It is as timeless as any investment in Mantle and will be good as long as baseball is the National Pastime. Be ready to shell out a couple of hundred for this in a clean condition. As with any last card in a set form this period, remember kids would often put rubber bands around there se and damage the end card. Thus it makes this particular one more difficult to find in good condition.
U.S. Navy Binoculars.
Lemaire Fabi Paris Binoculars.
U.S. Navy & Lemaire Fabi Paris Binoculars: Vintage binoculars were also popular last month. In this case, we had users looking for U.S. Navy binoculars, as well as Lemaire Fabi Paris binoculars. This is a case where rarity may not equate to value. The Worthopedia contained only three pages of the Lemaire binoculars. These were generally covered in mother of pearl and made in the early 1900s. They looked “pretty” and expensive, bout a pair could easily be bought for $50, when you could find them. On the other hand, there were at least 80 pages of naval binoculars and the few I looked at started at $100 and went up a lot from there. I know like most areas of collecting, military binoculars quickly get into a science of their own, but these glasses can get very pricey. It is still possible to find these glasses at military estate sales.
Goat Pin Brooch.
Goat Pin Brooch: Hmm . . . I had never thought about such a thing, but I know people like jewelry, and they like jewelry with animals. Looking into this on the site, I did not find a lot, but found almost 20. About five of these were for the Hattie Carnegie designer jewelry type and these would average about $300. I will admit that one of them, too me looked satanic, but what the heck, I always leave that up to the buyer. Prices also ranged down to the $15 dollar range for non designer jewelry.
Art Nouveau Upright Player Piano.
Art Nouveau Upright Player Piano: I found one specific player piano on the site that was of the Art Nouveau style. There were about another 500 on the site that were of varying styles. I also found some interesting piano items, including 1930s metal bookends that were of musicians playing a piano. The price of the Art Nouveau piano . . . a whopping $14,000? I would say it takes a very specific buyer.
Framed Chinese Cork Carvings.
Framed Chinese Cork Carvings: I had always wondered what these were when I saw them in people’s homes. They are quite intricate and usually in a frame. They are a tourist trade item and generally new and relatively inexpensive. I would suspect there are some older ones around that could bring considerably more money, but the newer ones are bringing $15-$25.
Zippo Glock Lighter.
Zippo Glock Lighter: Another hot item was the Zippo Glock commemorative lighter that was put out in 2006. This lighter was commemorating 20 years of something for Glock, the arms manufacturer, and Zippo. I had expected to see a cigarette lighter shaped like a gun, but this one had a small medallion that was set into a conventional lighter. Lighters are very easy to sell and a popular collectible. This one sell for $20-$35, new in the box. I have sold some specialized Zippo lighters for hundreds of dollars, so be on the lookout for them.
Bonnie and Clyde Autopsy Photos: For the weird and macabre, in the most searched, there was a pair of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow autopsy photos that were apparently prizes from a carnival. For those of you to young to remember, Bonnie and Clyde were two Depression-era bank robbers (played Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in the 1967 movie). They met a very violent end in an ambush by authorities and were riddled with bullets. These photos certainly attested to that and were not for the squeamish. They sold at Cowan’s Auctions, a leading auction house in Cincinnati, for $460.
General Erotica: Lastly, I will say erotica is still, and always will be, hot (no pun intended), as long as there are smoking hot guys and girls. This month we had some odd searches that aggregated into big numbers. For the large lot of you that were looking for the “Iroquois-beer-fridge-magnet-girl-sexy-nude-Indian” well, I hope you find her. It sounds as elusive as true love. It is out there, but truly difficult to find!
Will Seippel is the president and CEO of WorthPoint. Will has been an avid collector since 1974 and dealer of just about all things—with a emphasis on ephemera—antique since 1984.
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