QUESTION: Many years ago, my father gave me a photograph of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies Whiz Kids that features the players, coaches, bat boys and trainers. It measures 43 inches by 19 inches. Each of the players has signed his name over his chest. One of the trainers and the three bat boys did not sign it. What is it worth?
– DL, Wernersville, Pa, via e-mail
ANSWER: The 1950 Phillies made me a New York Yankees fan. I was 9 years old and living in Hellertown, Pa., when the Philadelphia Phillies won the 1950 National League pennant. I played first base in sandlot and Little League, using an Eddie Waitkus—the Phillies’ first baseman—embossed-autograph first baseman’s glove. Although my family had a television by that time, I listened to the games on the radio.
I collected baseball cards, attracted to them in large part by the sugar-sweet bubble gum that came in the pack. My collection included cards of Richie Ashburn, Dale Ennis, Granny Hamner, Jim Konstanty, Robin Roberts, Andy Seminick, Dick Sisler, Curt Simmons, Eddie Waitkus and other Phillies.
TRIVIA QUIZ: Robert Redford’s character of Roy Hobbs in “The Natural” (1984) was based on what Philadelphia Phillies player?
There was no way the Phillies could lose the World Series, especially after a tight pennant race with the Brooklyn Dodgers; or so I thought at the time. The Whiz Kids became the Wheeze Kids, losing four straight. Preferring to root for a winner and aware of the Yankees’ past glories, I switched my allegiance following the final out. Even though the Yankees have had some tough years since 1950, I rest content with my decision.
I have seen the large team picture. What I cannot remember is whether it had the signatures of the players on it.
My initial concern is not whether the signatures are correct but if they are printed as part of the photograph. Use a 10-power loupe to examine the signatures. If they all have a solid black consistency, chances are they are printed. If you can see breaks (pauses) in the signatures, variations in the strength of the lines, slight indentations in the picture’s surface, and a variety of different color inks, then the chances are great that the signatures were added to the photograph.
If this proves to be the case, the next step is to determine if each individual person signed the photograph or if one or two individuals did the signatures. Look at the slope of the signatures. If the slope is consistent for large groups of names, then a single person did the signing.
Assuming the signatures are the actual signatures of each player, coach and trainer, the next consideration is clarity and condition. Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts—members of that team—are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, a definite plus.
If the signatures are legible and the picture in good condition (have you noticed how many ifs it took to get to this point), the value of your autographed 1950 Philadelphia Phillies Whiz Kid photograph is between $500 and $600.
[Author’s Aside: I no longer have my embossed-autograph Eddie Waitkus first baseman’s glove. Two years ago, I did buy a small-size Waitkus glove, but I would love to have a full-size model. Does anyone have one for sale?]
QUESTION: I am seeking information abut the 1996 Bailey’s Yum teacups and teapot set. I have a period brochure that shows the boy and girl cups and a girl teapot, which they call a coffeepot. The order form only allows you to order the cups and matching creamer and sugar. Were any teapots/coffeepots offered for sale? A spoon is not mentioned in the brochure, but I see them offered for sale. I also discovered an early 1930s English cup whose design closely resembles the Bailey’s cups. It is possible that the Bailey cups were modeled after this design?
– KP, Sandusky, Ohio
ANSWER: Winking cups is the name I encountered most frequently in my research for your Bailey ceramic series.
Is it possible the designer of the Bailey pieces was familiar with the early cups? Anything is possible, but I have my doubts. EBay sellers apparently think this is the case. I found one listing that read: “This whimsical collection is based on a 1930s style pattern.”
The teapot is a coffeepot; the tea cups are coffee cups. Bailey’s Irish Cream, a liqueur, offered the set in 1996. While I suppose you might be able to discover someone who adds Bailey’s Irish Cream to their tea, you are far more likely to find individuals who add it to their coffee.
The set includes a male cup, a female cup, a special female cup with a “Helen Hunt” signature, coffeepot, creamer, sugar and cookie jars. The Helen Hunt cups were a premium giveaway for the Los Angeles Youth Network. I was not able to document the existence of a spoon.
A set consisting of a coffeepot, two cups, creamer, and sugar sold on eBay on Nov. 24 for $142.50 plus $10 shipping. There were 34 bids, although not 34 bidders. Several bidders bid more than once. Individual cups sell in the $3 to $6 range. The Helen Hunt cups are available on the Internet for prices ranging from $8 to $10 each. Given this, the price for which the set sold was a strong one. Apparently, as you suspected, value rests primarily in the coffeepot and cookie jar, both of which, based on their frequent appearance on eBay, were available for purchase.
These Bailey premiums are less than 15 years old. Hence, they fall under Rinker’s 30-Year Rule: “For the first 30 years of any thing’s life, all its value is speculative.” I have no doubt that the current prices are highly speculative. Now is the time to sell. In 20 years, you will be able to buy these same items for pennies on the dollar.
QUESTION: I purchased a two-pound lot of costume jewelry for $40 at a local auction. An absolutely gorgeous 2 ½-inch-diameter, star-shaped broach was the primary reason I bought the lot. The piece has a hand-painted, floral motif oval in each of the star’s five points. Blue faceted rhinestones adorn the rest of the piece. There is no maker’s mark or other identification. A jeweler friend of mine confirmed that it is in almost perfect condition. I would appreciate your thoughts about my purchase.
– RH, Elkins, WV
ANSWER: The picture that accompanied your letter was very helpful. The axiom that “better pieces are marked” does not always hold true, especially if you are viewing an object aesthetically. Some mass-produced costume jewelry, such as the example you own, was well designed.
Your piece dates from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, a determination I made based on its design and clasp. It may have had matching earrings and a bracelet. Costume jewelry often was sold as sets during this period
Its appeal is enhanced by its strong “blue” tone. There is a color pecking order in respect to sales in the antiques and collectibles field—blue, red, green, yellow, brown, black, and white. “If it is ugly (not the case with your pin) and blue, it will sell” is a trade truism.
While most costume jewelry reference books focused on marked pieces, Katie Joe and Ronna Lee Aikins’ “20th Century Costume Jewelry, 1900-1980: Identification & Value Guide, Second Edition” (Krause, 2008) contains many unmarked pieces. I am reluctant to cite costume jewelry book prices because they reflect field asking prices as opposed to a more realistic value predicated on what the identical piece would realize on eBay.
While I was aware that unmarked costume jewelry often is auctioned in large sized lots, I was not aware that weight was a method to determine lot size. After thinking about it, it makes as much sense as some of the other lotting practices I have seen.
Your piece is delightful. If you purchased it at an antiques mall or show, you would have had to pay between $30 and $40. Hopefully, there were other pieces in the lot which pleased you as well. Otherwise, you paid full market price to acquire the piece you admired.
QUESTION: I picked up a copy of the Bill of Rights at a yard sale. It is marked “In commemoration of 200 yr. anniversary of the Bill of Rights / Courtesy of Philip Morris Companies / In cooperation with the National Archives.” It is written on what appears to be very old paper. Does it have any value?
– CB, Coplay, Pa.
ANSWER: The answer is no. Photographic reproductions of historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are a dime a dozen. Even late 19th-century reprints have little to no value.
These and other documents are often printed on what appears to be old parchment paper. Actually, it is modern paper stained with tea. You can buy these photographic reproductions at historical sites, such as Independence Hall, across America.
At least Philip Morris had the courtesy to include the reprint information on your example. Many photographic reproductions are not marked.
TRIVIA QUIZ ANSWER: Eddie Waitkus.
Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out his Web site.
You can listen and participate in Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show “Whatcha Got?” on Sunday mornings between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It streams live on the Genesis Communications Network.
“Sell, Keep Or Toss? How To Downsize A Home, Settle An Estate, And Appraise Personal Property” (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via Harry’s Web site: http://www.harryrinker.com.
Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected queries will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. You can e-mail your questions to email@example.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.
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