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Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot: A Toast to New Year’s Collectibles

by Tom Carrier (12/28/12).

A New Year’s Day postcard, circa 1907, can be had for about $5. There are many New Year’s-related item to be collected, from calendars for cards to collectible pins.

There are many collectibles for New Year’s Day, more than you would think: there are buttons to wear; calendars old and new; pins to collect; cards from friends; champagne corks from France; memories to remember; and resolutions to forget.

Celebrating the new calendar year on Jan. 1 of the Julian calendar (Jan. 14 on the Gregorian calendar as the Eastern Orthodox do) is done with fireworks, parties, parades, games, dinners and family. It is a celebration that literally brings together the entire world.

But once the day is over, what else do we have to remember it by?

Let’s start with the calendar, since we are talking about changing from one to another. What may have started it all was the Mayan calendar. Dating back to at least the 5th century, B.C., the Calendar Round as it was known provided the basis for the 365 days and 52 weeks that is still observed today. Replicas of the Calendar Round are available as wall displays, posters and key rings for less than $10 to about $25, with a limited-edition silver coin for $3,100. Or perhaps an complete original Coca-Cola advertising calendar from 1907 in excellent condition for $2,500. Either way, you will be up to date. The real value in vintage calendars is that the calendars must have every month’s page intact.

When the date does change, it begins near Samoa and wends its way east around the world, where Father Time makes way for Baby New Year until the day circles back to Samoa 24 hours later. In the United States, the place to be is Times Square in New York City. There, at precisely one minute to midnight, a large crystal ball atop No. 1 Times Square falls and lights up precisely at midnight as it has since 1907. The ball today is made by Waterford Crystal, weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and carries a cost of, well, I couldn’t find out. However, you can own a commemorative Times Square crystal ball ornament for about $45 to $60.

A $100 Aztec calendar silver proof, minted in 2007, will now set you back $3,100.

An official Times Square Ball crystal ornament, made in 2004, carries a $60 tag now.

Everywhere around the world, celebrations feature all manner of fireworks and a toast of great champagne for two or maybe more. Moet Chandon, with a set of crystal champagne glasses especially designed by Versace, was the best way to celebrate when it went for auction at $300 last year. Quite a few examples of crystal champagne glassware are easily available starting at $15 and up. Alcohol, as a rule, cannot be auctioned in a public sale, so looking for commemorative champagne is best with licensed vendors or at private sales.

The collectible pin is very much a Walt Disney and Hard Rock Cafe necessity. They each produce New Year’s pins with early examples going back to at least the Millennium start at about $4 and rise to as much as $20 at auction. Many are limited-edition pins made in runs from as few as 1,500 or to as many as 5,000. If the pins come on a card, it is best to keep the card intact with the pin.

This 1907 Coca Cola calendar, with all the month pages intact, is worth $2,500.

A program from the 1942 Cotton Bowl is a bit of a rarity, carrying a $374 price tag.

This commemorative 2001 New Year’s pin from the Hard Rock Café can be had for $13.

Many have continued a tradition of sending New Year’s greetings cards in lieu of the Christmas or Hanukkah cards. The graphics of the 1940s cards, for example, are every bit as vibrant as the other holiday cards and quite collectible, but still reasonable at $3 to $15 a card, depending on graphics, color and condition.

Another main tradition on New Year’s Day is the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., that precedes college football bowl games, such as the Rose Bowl, just as ice hockey and soccer competitions happen in Europe and Canada. Early programs, such as the 1942 Cotton Bowl program, were made in relatively few numbers, which explains the auction price of $374, higher than that of other more national games.

A bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne, with a set of crystal champagne glasses especially designed by Versace, was the best way to celebrate when it went for auction at $300 last year.

Other types of collectibles for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day include flags, pennants, first day postal covers and photos of celebrations. A concert poster and a New Year’s Day Feelie Fest, with a curiously designed hand-crafted ceramic sculpture of sorts known as a feelie, I guess, was auctioned at $1,000 and, while it is a bit more esoteric, it is still rather fun, which is really what New Year’s Day is really all about anyway, isn’t it?

As Oprah Winfrey has said, “here’s to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”

Happy New Year to all, happy collecting and Salud!

Tom Carrier is a general Worthologist, with an expertise in a wide variety of subjects, including vexillology, or the study of flags.

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