Top 10 Worthopedia Searches for August, 2010

This 1940 Supermen of America Premium Prize ring was the most-searched item in the Worthopedia in August 2010.

It is past time for the August most searched items from WorthPoint Worthopedia archives for the month of August. The most popular search item was for a Superman ring, circa 1940. It has always been a fascination to me on the value of comic collectibles and the number of searches on this ring caught my attention. When I started in the antiques business in the 1970s, comic memorabilia collecting was just taking off. An original Superman ring from 1940 recently sold on eBay for more than $10,000, and iIt apparently sparked interest in these rings, as we had a lot of searches on them in August. I went back and looked at our site and found more than 53 pages of Superman rings that spanned from 1940 to modern versions. Pulling out one of the fabled 1940 rings, I found the following description:

“Don’t miss out on owning this extremely rare collectible. Give it as a gift to yourself this holiday season or give it to someone that you really like, and I mean really, really like! :).

“I do not believe this particular ring has ever been on the market before!! Up for bid is a fantastic, 1940 Supermen of America Premium Prize ring. Mathematically, this ring is considered to be the rarest superhero collectible item known to this day. I have read several different stories of exactly how many are in existence today, and from what I gather, there are approx only 13 to 17 of these rings known of in the world! I believe only 1,600 of these rings were originally awarded.

This ring was issued in 1940 by DC Comics and was promoted in the early Superman Action Comic issues (I have read that it was the #3 issue and the January 1940 issue in particular). This features Superman on the face of the ring breaking a chain. The words “Supermen of America Member” circle around Superman. On the left side of the ring is a planet of some sort and the right side of the ring shows two lightning bolts. The outside border of the face of the ring still has a lot of the silver plating left. The red enamel is about 95-percent complete to the naked eye in the circle around Superman. The red enamel on the “S” logo on Superman’s chest is about 75- to 80-percent complete. The upper 3/4 of the lightning bolts still has the silver plating on it. Over the rest of the ring the silver-plating fades in and out. The ring itself is in absolutely fantastic condition. I was able to take some very detailed and great photographs of this item. The pictures speak for themselves.

The story of how this ring turned up is an interesting one. Five years ago, the current owner of this ring purchased a very old coffee can full of buttons from the early 1900s in Denver at the estate of a couple who was in their 80s. The button can was put on a shelf, where it remained until about two months ago, at which time the current owners emptied out the can to find this Supermen of America Ring. They did some research on the ring and found that it was extremely rare and valuable. Now I have been put to the task of auctioning it off for them.”

This 2008 seller certainly hit the jackpot, finding this ring in a jar of old buttons. Another nice one sold at Heritage Auction Galleries for about $4,900 this year, while yet another near-mint one sold on eBay sold for more than $13,000 this year. According to Heritage, the one it sold was sold at Sotheby’s about a decade ago. It looks as scarce comic items are going and there is a premium paid for condition. I will also caution that Heritage quoted a $30,000 valuation in a price guide from Hakes, which goes to point out the inflated prices in many price guides.

Other items in the top 10:

Earl Moran pinups

2. Earl Moran pinups: I love this 1940-50s art. To me, the best are Vargas, Moran and Elvgren.

Army National Guard Backpack

3. Army National Guard Backpack: These seem hot for some reason. The modern-era ones retail at $100 and wholesale at around $20. They are great, cheap backpacks for kids and scouts, at wholesale.

"Dante’s Inferno" lobby card, crica 1924.

4. Dante’s Inferno: It is surprising to see a resurrection of interest in a “light” medieval book on hell. I was surprised to see this. Kind of déjà vu, as I had just bought Roman Polanksi’s “Seventh Gate” from the discount rack. I assume that the rekindling in the interest on the book has to do with its video game namesake. While I did not see anything on WorthPoint dating back 600 years, there was plenty that could make you ponder the afterworld and go back into the 1800s! My favorite item was a 1924 lobby card from a movie made after about the Inferno. That sold for $724.

A Coca-Cola Super Bowl Pin from Super Bowl XIX.

5. Coca-Cola Super Bowl Pins: Not sure of the history of this collectible at the Super Bowl. I do know that there is an infinite amount of Super Bowl collectible, especially post Super Bowl XIX. While I do not know when Coca-Cola actually started making these, there are encased collections of them priced on WorthPoint starting with Super Bowl XIX. I am not sure that they are vintage pins or just “commemoratives.” Anyway, they are in the $30-$50 range.

A Beleek Porcelain pitcher.

6. Beleek Porcelain: A great, Irish fine porcelain, this style was the sixth-most popular last month. When buying or selling, make sure you decipher the mark on the bottom to determine the age. Like anything else, value is partially dependent on when it was made. The mark will tell you this.

Syracuse La-Fonda Hotel China

7. Syracuse La-Fonda Hotel China: This was another surprise in the popular-search list. Syracuse china is a widely collected and was a favorite of the commercial trade in the first half of the 20th century. It was often used in restaurants that were connected to the travel industries, such as hotels and transportation companies, who prized it for its durability. Often, they would have their logos printed on it and visitors could not help but slip out with a piece as a souvenir from the trip. Over the years, it has become very collectible. The La Fonda hotel, in Santa Fe, N.M., was an early, 175-room mission-style hotel that was quite popular and is still in existence today. There are some nice pictures on its Web site and it looks to be a fun place to stay or hit for a romantic weekend. For those of you whe were fans of the Santa Fe Railroad and Fred Harvey postcards, you may know of the hotel and the role this hotel played in the railroad’s heyday history.

Team-signed 2009 Little league World Series ball.

8. 2009 Little league World Series: This was a popular search, although I could not imagine what could already be a popular collectible for a recent Little League World Series. There were already some signed team balls from the Williamsport Series and they were bringing $25-$75 a ball. Security badges were in the $25 range.

U.S. Navy Chief Charge Book

9. U.S. Navy Chief Charge Book: This was a new one on me, but we had three of these on our site. They looked to be given to newly commissioned Naval Chief Petty Officers and inscribed by members in the unit and read before a mock review board. There was a very wide range in prices for them; from less than $100 to about $700. I would imagine that the value is very dependent on the content. The latter looked to be Viet Nam War period, with the POW/MIA icon on the cover.

GEICO Bobblehead.

10. GEICO Bobblehead: OK, the GEICO Gecko, you either got to love him or hate him. He has been commercialized like just about anything else, but bobbleheads with his likeness are being sold for about $10. If you don’t like the gecko, the caveman bobbleheads are out there, too.

Will Seippel is the president and CEO of WorthPoint. Will has been an avid collector since 1974 and dealer of just about all things—with a emphasis on ephemera—antique since 1984.


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  1. bonnie says:

    they just had an episode of pawnstars and a gentleman brought in a superman of america ring and stated there are only about 12 in existence. anyways, his was in pretty bad shape and not even worth buying. just thought i would mention this and it is a really good show to watch.

    • Bill Castle says:

      That’s probably at least part of what’s driving the increase in search traffic for that item. I know I try to give special prominence to items I’ve seen on Pawn Stars or American Pickers.