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Q & A with Harry Rinker: Yearbook Featuring Charlton Heston & Rock Hudson

by Harry Rinker (01/24/12).

QUESTION: I am seeking the value of a 1941 New Trier High School yearbook that contains Charlton Heston’s senior picture, along with his photograph as a member of the Dramatics Club and other senior activities, such as the Rifle Club. The same yearbook includes a sophomore class photo of R. Fitzgerald, who later became Rock Hudson. Unfortunately, Heston did not sign the yearbook. I have tried to find comparable values on the internet but have not been successful. Can you help?

– S.F., Chicago Area, Ill., via e-mail

ANSWER: Entertainment websites and periodicals love running “guess who” yearbook celebrity pictures. The collecting of celebrity yearbooks began in earnest in the 1990s. In 2002, Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine published Brandon Ross’s “Celebrity Yearbook Values.”

New Trier Township High School was founded in 1901. It has two campuses, one located in Winnetka (Ill.) and the other in New Trier West near Northfield (Ill.). In addition to Charlton Heston and Rock Hudson, other actors and actresses who graduated from New Trier include Ralph Bellamy, Bruce Dern, Virginia Madsen, Hugh O’Brien, Charlotte Ross, Hall Sparks and Rainn Wilson.

Michele Alice’s article “Collector’s Corner: Yearbooks as Collectibles” published in ecommerceBytes.com on June 15, 2006,] notes: “Recently, a Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) fan was willing to spend $661.55 for a 1980 (Montesano, Wash.) high school yearbook bearing Cobain’s image. And for $432.50, someone really wanted a 1941 New Trier (IL) Yearbook with photos of Rock Hudson and Charlton Heston. (All prices mentioned in this article were taken from online auctions completed between June 01 and June 22, 2006).”

I found a dealer listing a 1943 New Trier yearbook featuring an unsigned senior picture of R. Fitzgerald (Rock Hudson) for sale at $90. The picture was unsigned.

First, does a signature add value and, if so, how much? The answer is yes. Add an additional 25 to 35 percent, if the famous personality signed his photograph in his/her yearbook.

Second, time affects value. Interest in Charlton Heston and Rock Hudson memorabilia is declining with each passing year. The late 1990s and early 2000s were the peak years, as $432.50 is too high for a 2012 value. A realistic price is between $200 and $250.

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QUESTION: In the early 1940s, my father, a doctor, bought an Eversharp “Command Performance” pen and pencil set. The set remains in its period box. The pen and pencil are housed in individual leather cases. The box contains a folded “Guaranteed Forever” document and a price card that reads: “EVERSHARP / Command Performance (script lettering) / Fourteen Karat Gold Throughout / $125.00.” What is my set worth?

– F.B.K, Roanoke, Va.

ANSWER: Prior to 1940, Parker, Shaeffer and Wahl were among the largest fountain pen manufacturers in the United States. When Wahl experienced financial difficulties in 1940, the company reorganized as Eversharp, capitalizing on the sales strength of its Eversharp repeater pencil, introduced in 1936.

Realizing a new line of pens was necessary if Eversharp was to recapture market share, Eversharp hired industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972). Dreyfuss developed a Streamlined Modernist design that was a distinct departure from Wahl’s previous Art Deco designs.

Eversharp introduced Dreyfuss’s “Skyliner” design in the spring of 1941. The design captured the streamlined design associated with period aircraft. Initial advertising noted: “Magic Feed prevents ink flooding or leaking high in a plane . . . so of course at ground level too.” Design historians see linkages between Dreyfuss’s Skyliner design and his design for the New York Central 20th Century Limited locomotive.

Skyliner pens came in a wide variety of styles, most of which contain no markings. There were three basic models—Demi (Lady), Standard and Executive. All designs had a matching pencil. Pen and pencil set prices ranged from $3.50 (all plastic) to $125 (14 karat gold). A double checkmark on the clip signified an Eversharp lifetime warranty. Because of the Skyliner’s over-the-top clip design, it was a favorite among military users.

[TRIVIA QUIZ: The Skyliner design also worked well with another popular Dreyfuss-designed object. What was it?]

Although the Skyliner was the most popular pen sold in America in 1945, Eversharp decreased its Skyliner advertising in favor of the Fifth Avenue model and, after 1948, the Symphony model.

Introduced in the early 1940s, Eversharp’s Command Performance pen and the pen and pencil set were advertised as the “gift of a lifetime.” The model was made only in the Standard size. Although advertisements picture only a pen and pencil with a smooth body, collectors believe pens and pencils with engraved or machined pattern cases exist. The pen (Model 78SY) sold for $75 and the matching pencil (Model 178SY) for $50. Although expensive at the time, sales were brisk. Collectors classify the pen and pencil set as common.

[Author’s Aside: Eversharp also made a pen and pencil set featuring a solid cap and barrel in platinum. The set sold for $200 in 1941. Collectors considered it to be very scarce.]

David Nishimura’s Vintage Pens website lists a Command Performance “wartime lever-filler, 13.3 cm long, with matching 1.l mm injector pencil…” at $1,200, noting that the “Asking price is less than $100 over current gold value.” I found several internet sales for the pen alone with prices realized ranging between $300 and $600.

The pen and pencil set has multiple values in today’s marketplace. A Modernist collector with an emphasis on industrial designer pieces might pay between $700 and $900. Given the current melt value of gold, this price is considerably below the melt value found in the pen and pencil cases. While I cringe when I recommend melt value, it may be easier to dispose of the pen and pencil set in this fashion than taking the time and making the effort to find a collector who would pay top dollar.

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QUESTION: I have a copy of Volume No. 1 of “ELVIRA Mistress of the Dark” magazine issued by Marvel on Oct. 1, 1988. What is its value?

– T, Madisonburg, Pa.

ANSWER: The “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” movie was directed by James Signorelli. Cassandra Peterson, who played Elvira, John Paragon and Sam Egan wrote the script. The movie was released on Sept. 30, 1988. In 1989, Peterson received a nomination for a Razzie as Worst Actress, but lost to Liza Minnelli for roles in “Arthur 2: On the Rocks” and Rent-A-Cop.”

Peterson (born Sept. 17, 1951) began her role as Elvira on Los Angeles’s KHJ as host of “Movie Macabre” in 1981. Her sexy/punk vampire look featured a tight-fitting, low-cut black grown that showed her ample cleavage, heavily-applied pancake-horror makeup and a towering black beehive wig. Her movie introductions include risqué double entendres.

Elvira became a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.” She also was featured in television advertisements for Coors-Light Beer and Mug Root Beer. TV guest appearances included “CHiPs” and “Fantasy Island.” In 1982, Knott’s Theme Park hired Elvira to host its annual Halloween Haunt.

Do not confuse the comic book promoting the movie with the comic book series from DC Comics, Eclipse Comics and Claypool Comics. The Eclipse/Claypool series consists of 166 issues.

Copies of the movie promotion comic are common. I found numerous sale listings on the Internet with prices at or below $10.

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QUESTION: I have a VHS Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tape that was a 1990s Burger King premium. Does it have any value?

– J, Reading, Pa.

ANSWER: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arrived on the scene in 1984 in a comic book format published by Mirage Studios of Dover, N.H. The four teenage anthropomorphic turtles, trained by an anthropomorphic rat sensei in ninjutsu, evolved from the imagination of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

In 1986, Dark Horse miniatures produced a set of 15mm lead figures. Playmates Toys, Inc., followed with a line of action figures a years later. Playmates produced a mini-series to promote its toy line. After repeating the series three times with limited success, Group W provided funding to create additional episodes. CBS picked up the show. By the late 1980s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze was in full swing. Turtles images were everywhere, from breakfast cereal and PEZ containers to cameras and video games.

In 1990, Burger King offered four VHS Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle videos as promotional giveaways through its Kids’ Club: “April Foolish,” “Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers,” “The Great Boldini,” and “Sky Turtles.” Although some internet sellers are asking as high as $13 plus shipping, the sell-through average on eBay is between $3 and $4, with shipping ranging from $2.50 to $4. The survival rate for all four videos is high.

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TRIVIA QUIZ ANSWER: In 1937, Dreyfuss designed the rotary telephone. The blunt end of the Skyliner pen doubled as a telephone dialer.

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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. 2012

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