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Q & A with Harry Rinker: WWII Military Sign, Lexington Piano, MLB Newsletters

by Harry Rinker (08/10/11).

QUESTION: I have a framed broadside that reads: “WARNING / UNITED STATES ARMY/ EASTERN MILITARY AREA / UNDER AUTHORITY OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9066 OF THE PRESIDENT / OF THE UNITED STATES AND PURSUANT TO PUBLIC PROCLAMATIONS / ISSUED BY HEADQUARTERS EASTERN DEFENSE COMMAND AND FIRST / ARMY, GOVERNORS ISLAND NEW YORK, THE WITHIN AREA HAS BEEN / DESIGNATED A/ RESTRICTED ZONE….H. A. DRUM / LIEUTENANT GENERAL, U. S. ARMY.” The broadside was posted on the beach in Hancock Point, Maine, during World War II. Does it have any value?

– MG, Hancock, Maine, via e-mail

ANSWER: President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War to prescribe Military Areas on Feb. 19, 1942. The order states: “ I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deem such action necessary or desirable to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restriction the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion . . . ” While the order was used to limit access to beach areas along the Atlantic Coast, it was broadly interpreted so that it applied to one-third of the land area in the United States, the vast majority of which was in the West. It became the legal justification for ordering approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps. Executive Order No. 9066 remained in effect until President Gerald Ford rescinded it on Feb. 19, 1976.

The U. S. Army’s Eastern Defense Command (EDC), responsible for coordinating the defense of the Atlantic Coast Region, was established on March 17, 1941. The command also had the responsibility of training troops for overseas service. Lieutenant General Hugh Aloysius Drum, commander of the U.S. First Army, was the EDC’s first commanding officer. First Army and EDC were headquartered at Fort Jay, Governors Island in New York Harbor. Drum served as head of EDC until October 8, 1943.

General Drum (Sept. 19, 1879 to Oct. 3, 1951) joined the United States Army in 1898. By World War I, he was assistant Chief of Staff to General John J. Pershing. Following World War I, he served at Fort Leavenworth and the War Department. He was one of the leading opponents of Colonel Billy Mitchell’s plan to make the Army Air Corps a separate service branch. After commanding the U.S. Army Pacific from 1935 to 1937, he assumed command of First Army in 1938. His ambition to become Chief of Staff was thwarted in 1939 when he was passed over in favor of General George Marshall. He suffered a similar fate when asking for a prime wartime assignment in Europe. When he reached mandatory retirement age in 1943, he left the service.

When individuals ask me what we sell in the antiques and collectibles trade, my stock answer is: “dreams and stories.” Stories breathe life into objects. Hopefully, the above information enhances your knowledge and interest in your broadside. Rather than seeing it as just a scrap of paper, you now view it as an historical document chronicling an important period of American history.

The digital photograph that accompanied your e-mail shows that the broadside suffered water damage; no surprise since it was posted on a coastal beach. Its value in this condition is between $40 and $50.

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QUESTION: I have an old Lexington piano dated 1903. What is its value?

– PS, Lehigh Valley, Pa.

ANSWER: The Lexington Piano Company, located in Boston, was established at the beginning of the 20th century. Boston was one of the leading piano manufacturing centers in the United States. Hallet & Davis, founded in 1835 as Brown & Hallet, exhibited a grand piano at the 1867 Paris Exposition.

While the Sweeney Piano website lists 1906 to 1940 as the working dates for the Lexington Piano Company, other websites suggest earlier founding and ending dates. Lexington made grand pianos, baby grand pianos, upright pianos and upright player pianos. Several website sources suggest Lexington was absorbed by Hallet & Davis.

The National Piano Manufacturing Company of Boston was founded in 1910. National Piano aggressively acquired other Boston piano companies, including Briggs Merrill, Conway, Hallet & Davis, Norris & Hyde, and Wentworth. Jacob Doll & Sons purchased National Piano in 1926, maintaining the National brand for upright and player pianos. While National dissolved early in the Great Depression, some of the brand names such as Hallet & Davis continued.

You did not specify the type of piano you own. Before discussing the various types, a few general observations are necessary. Pianos are a tough sell, especially if they have not been kept tuned and/or need restoration. Value also differs depending on whether you are selling wholesale (privately) or retail (piano store).

When buying a piano, the buyer is cognizant of the costs involved in moving a piano. Having a professional mover move a piano across town is a minimum of $300, often higher. As distance increases, so does cost. If the buyer is lucky to have friends who have little to no concern about throwing out their backs, the cost of the move is limited to a rental truck, a few pizzas and a case of beer.

If your piano is an old upright that is playable but not reconditioned, its secondary market value is around $100. Piano shop retail prices for reconditioned uprights range from $400 to $750.

If your piano is a baby grand that is playable but not reconditioned, its secondary market value is between $400 and $500 dollars. Reconditioned examples at a piano shop begin at $1,200 and range into the high thousands depending on manufacturer.

In the past, I advised clients to donate the piano to a local church or education group. Today, thanks to the electronic age, these groups no longer have use for them.

If your goal is to sell your piano, try Craigslist or a classified advertisement in your local newspaper. Your success will depend on how little, not how much, you ask.

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QUESTION: I have a collection of Major League Baseball newsletters, among which is a June 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers newsletter and a 1946 Giants Jottings. What value do these have?

– J, Macungie, Pa.

ANSWER: “Learn something new every day” is a prime reason I remain active in the antiques and collectibles field. While I am familiar with the modern e-mail blogs and newsletters issued by Major League Baseball teams, I failed to remember there were printed historical equivalents.

The Brooklyn Dodgers issued its “Vintage Line Drives Newsletter” as early as 1939. On July 5, 2010, Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas, sold a lot of 22 Dodgers newsletters dating between 1939 and 1950 for $56, or roughly $2.50 each.

Researching Major League Baseball newsletters is difficult. While I suspect the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., has full runs and scattered examples in its collection, I was not able to access its holdings database on the Internet. The University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Library’s Rare Book & Special Collections holdings include the Joyce Sports Research Collection. The Joyce Collection contains a collection of 1940s through 1960s American League team newsletters from the Baltimore Orioles (The Oriole-gram), Boston Red Sox (Red Sox Ramblings), Chicago White Sox (White Sox Yarns / White Sox American League News), Cleveland Indians (Indian News), Detroit Tigers (Detroit Tiger Tales), Los Angeles Angels (Angel Angles), Minnesota Twins (Bulle-Twin), New York Yankees (Yank), Philadelphia Athletics (Along the Elephant Trail), Kansas City Athletics (News of the Athletics), and Washington Senators (The Washington Senators AL News).

Value is relative. In the case of sports memorabilia, it differs significantly if the item is offered for sale in a team’s home town versus that of a rival. Copies of Yank sell in the New York City market between $8.50 and $20, depending on the seller. In Boston, well, that is another matter.

When offered at a sports memorabilia auction, team newsletters are usually sold within group lots, thus making it difficult to assign a specific value to the newsletters. When sold as a block at auction, the average individual price does not exceed $4.

Given the scarcity of these newsletters, I would have expected the price to be higher. However, team newsletters appear to be low-level priority among baseball collectors. Since their desirability is low, so is their value.

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QUESTION: I have a large bar of Procter & Gamble’s Ivory Soap in a wrapper dated 1940. It belonged to my great grandmother. I know it is unusual, but just wonder if it has any value or should I toss it?

– NG, Lancaster, Ohio, via e-mail Question

ANSWER: Proctor & Gamble’s Ivory Soap website has a detailed history of the soap that floats. Actually, “Ivory” refers to a wide range of P&G products focused on its white, mildly fragranced soap. P&G first sold Ivory Soap in 1879. “It Floats!” was introduced in 1891. My generation, those of us who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s, know Ivory as being “99 and 44/100% Pure.”

Your ivory soap bar is collectible, due primarily to its packaging. Old soap bars are used primarily to create nostalgic displays in bathrooms or as shelf stock in a country store display. Value is modest, somewhere between $2 and $5.

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Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out Harry’s 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..

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. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Pond Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You can e-mail your questions to harrylrinker@aol.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.

Copyright © Rinker Enterprises, Inc. 2011

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2 Responses to “Q & A with Harry Rinker: WWII Military Sign, Lexington Piano, MLB Newsletters”

  1. Janet Borden says:

    Hi,
    First of all I want to thank you for all the wonderful and worthwhile information you give. I look forward to reading this newsletter. I believe you have a column about unloved antiques. May I suggest Avon collectibles as one subject to explore? What happened to them? Why do people dislike them so much? I am an antiques dealer and for years they were very popular. Now you can’t give those items away! Just this past week a customer told me they were looking for a specific item. When I told her that Avon made items like she was looking for she threw her hands up in disgust an said “Ugh! Don’t even talk to me about that stuff.” And she walked away. She was talking about ruby dishes. I guess the general public doesn’t realize that Avon did not actually make most of the non make-up collectibles. Often, they were made by more “famous” companies.
    Once again, I enjoy Worthpoint very much and keep it up, you are doing great!
    Sincerely,
    Janet Borden

    • Gregory Watkins Gregory Watkins says:

      Hi Janet, Mike Wilcox writes the Unloved Antiques articles. I’ll pass on your suggestion about the Avon collectibles. Thanks for reading WorthPoint!

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