Q & A with Harry Rinker: Roosevelt Ticket Stub, Designer Kahlua Bottle
QUESTION: I own a reserved seat ticket (Gate 4, Section 104) for an “ALL CHICAGO WELCOME / for / PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT / SOLDIER FIELD / SAT., OCTOBER 28, 1944, 7 P. M.” My mother found this while cleaning out her house. She wonders if it has any worth other than its history. If it does, where can she sell it? However, she probably will keep it, as it would be a neat thing to pass on to the grandchildren.
– EK, Janesville, Wis.
ANSWER: President Roosevelt’s Oct. 28, 1944, Soldier Field appearance occurred near the end of his presidential campaign for a fourth term in office. Thomas E. Dewey, governor of New York, was his Republican opponent. Roosevelt’s victory was considered a certainty, although the popular vote was closer than many expected. In the Nov. 7 election, Roosevelt carried 36 states and 53.4 percent of the popular vote to Dewey’s 12 states and 45.9 percent. Illinois was among the 12 “red” states that went Republican.
Paul Michael Paterson’s “Chicago’s Soldier Field: Images of Sports” devotes a page to Roosevelt’s appearance. The crowd was estimated at 150,000. Roosevelt’s speech concluded: “I believe in our democratic faith. I believe in the future of our country, which has given eternal strength and vitality to that faith. Here in Chicago, you know a lot about that vitality. And as I say good night to you, I say it in the spirit of that faith—a spirit of hope—a spirit of confidence. We are not going to turn the clock back! We are going forward my friends—forward the fighting millions of our fellow countrymen. We are going forward together.”
In October 1944, American forces were advancing on all World War II fronts. American troops, along with General MacArthur, landed at Leyte in the Philippines on Oct. 20. The American Navy won a decisive victory in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Oct. 23-26. Aachen became the first German city to fall to the allies on Oct. 21. Less than six months later, on April 12, 1945, before victory in Europe or the Pacific, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died.
The survival rate for tickets for Roosevelt’s October 1944 Soldier Field appearance is high. The ticket is the type of ephemera people saved rather than discarded. Examples appear from time to time on eBay and often can be found on political item dealers’ Web pages. One listing currently is offering a ticket for $29.95.
I encourage your mother to preserve the ticket for her grandchildren. Obtain a black and white photograph of FDR and have it and the ticket matted and framed. In my Internet research, I found an eBay seller offering a black and white of FDR’s Soldier Field appearance. It is not a great photograph, but it does relate to the event.
QUESTION: I have a bottle of Kahlua Ruso Negro/Black Russian Cocktail. The bottle belonged to my uncle and still has liquor in it. The cap is white plastic and attached to the cork. The cap is broken, it looks like someone tried to take the top out and the cork broke under the plastic. The glaze has some cracks, but otherwise the bottle is sound. Does it have value?
– JT, Columbia, Mo., via e-mail
ANSWER: Kahlua originated in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. It is a coffee liquor that has been marketed in a variety of flavors, Ruso Negro (Black Russian) being one of them.
The A La Modern Web site offers this information about a similar bottle it is offering for sale for $400:
“We’ve done some research on the bottle, which originally was sold as Kahlua Black Russian (Ruso Negro) in the 1970s, and we believe La Gardo Tackett was the designer of it.
“However—we’ve seen the actual Tackett / Kahlua decanter and while it is nearly identical in design, there are quite a few differences. We’re still not sure why this would be, especially since it has the original ‘Kahlua’ identification sticker on the back. It is unlikely that Kahlua would purposely make another bottle so similar to Tackett’s design. But we believe it may have something to do with the fact that this particular decanter was made in Mexico . . . The differences are that Tackett’s original bottle had the design painted or screenprinted (sic.) onto the bottle, while this one actually contains details of the design inmolded (sic.) which was later painted with glaze. The face is a little different, and the back of the head is glazed black instead of being plain white. As stated, it also has a sticker in Spanish on the back, and the bottom of the bottle is marked inmold (sic.) with ‘Luxo Lier Mexico.’ . . . Measures about 10 ½ inches tall, and is about 4 inches wide and 3 inches deep.”
This is an excellent example of how extra value is assigned to a utilitarian object when its designer is known. La Gardo Tackett (1911-1992) was a professor at the Pasadena California School of Art. He created the “Forma” line of dinnerware for Schmid International and pieces for Freeman Lederman Company.
If all this sounds too good to be true, it is. Your bottle is the more common rather than scarce variety. Further, the fact that it still contains liquor makes selling the bottle a problem. All states within the United States prohibit the sale of liquor without a license. While I doubt if any law enforcement official will arrest you for attempting to sell one bottle, I am recommending you not take the chance.
A bottle similar to the one you own did sell on eBay for $25.95. The seller alleged the bottle dated from 1937. There is minimal policing of the information that appears in eBay listings. Judging from the appearance of your bottle as show in the photographs that accompanied your e-mail, I favor a 1970s/1980s date.
Your Kahlua Ruso Negro bottle has traditional secondary market value of between $18 and $22. However, the value would triple to quadruple in a dealer’s booth at a Modernist show.
QUESTION: I own an Emerson floor model console record player and radio. It belonged to my mother-in-law and is approximately 60 years old. Does it have any value?
– JK, Macungie, Pa., via e-mail
ANSWER: Let’s do the math. Sixty from 2010 equals 1950. Judging from the images that accompanied your e-mail, you are off by 10 to 15 years. The Mediterranean fruitwood console suggests a time period ranging from 1960 to 1965.
The Emerson Radio Corporation evolved from the Emerson Phonograph Company. Just prior to World War II, Emerson Radio & Phonograph supplied one-sixth of the American radio market. In the early 1950s, the company began manufacturing air conditioners and created the first clock radio, transistorized pocket radio and tape recorders. In 1958, Emerson purchased DuMont Laboratories, a manufacturer of high-end television sets, phonographs and high-fidelity and stereo equipment.
The home entertainment console, often consisting of a radio, record player and tape deck, was the premier “living room” furniture accessory in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Prices ranged from the middle hundreds to the low thousands.
The 1960s Mediterranean/Tuscany furniture craze was an offshoot of the Scandinavian Modernist movement. My first wife and I purchased a Mediterranean modern bedroom suite when we moved into our first home in 1966. As my aesthetic tastes became more sophisticated, my dislike for the suite grew. I was thrilled when it departed from my life as part of the divorce settlement.
Late 1950s and 1960s home entertainment centers are a drag on the market. It is difficult to give them away. When sold at auction, any price above $35 is considered exceptional. They are priced at $100 and above at some antiques malls and flea markets, but never sell.
Many of the components—Marantz tuners and Girard turntables—were high quality. Collector interest in reassembling high-fidelity and stereo systems is increasing, a reaction to the “clean” sound of the modern CD. Given this, the value of the parts may exceed the value of the unit as a whole.
QUESTION: I have a 1960s short skirt that has a Mr. Mort label. Who is Mr. Mort? Does it have any value?
– M, Allentown, Pa.
ANSWER: Thanks to a lead from Budd Matlock from Bath, Pa., I was able to locate information about Mr. Mort on the Vintage Fashion Guild Web site.
Mortimer Goldman founded Mr. Mort in 1952. The company specialized in producing fashionable, middle-market clothing. Stan Herman, previously employed by several New York firms, became the principal designer in 1959. Thanks to Herman’s designs, Mr. Mort designs set market trends. Russ Togs bought Mr. Mort in the mid-1960s, continuing the Mr. Mort line until the 1980s. The Vintage Fashion Guild article on Mr. Mort includes illustrations of six of his labels.
After leaving Mr. Mort, Stan Herman established his own design studio, creating his own label and doing freelance work for department stores and lingerie for Van Raalte. McDonalds and United Airlines were among the many clients for whom he created uniforms. He ended his career designing a line of clothing sold on QVC.
Cutting-edge though his designs may have been, Mr. Mort vintage clothing does not command high prices on the secondary market. Although you provide virtually no description of the short skirt you own, chances are strong that its value is in the $20 to $25 range.
Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out his Web site.
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