Top 10 Worthopedia Searches for the Year 2010

1957 Topps Baseball Card #407, featuring Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. A classic collectible that was among the top-10 items searched for on the Worthopedia.

Writing about the Top 10 Worthopedia Searches seemed like it would be a lot of fun, because it’s always so interesting to learn new things about antiques and collectibles. Boy, was I surprised when I saw the list of the top searches for 2010! You just never know what people like to collect. There is certainly a wide variety interest across the world, and that’s a great thing . . . I think.

So, these items, which represent the top searches of the WorthPoint Worthopedia, are not exactly traditional collectibles, there are pockets of people who are really into these items.

1. Hennessey Cognac: The Hennessey cognac distillery has been in business since 1765. But its merger with the luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton in 1987 raised it to a whole new level of opulence. This expensive French brandy has dramatically increased in popularity with young adults due to its association with famous rappers like Snoop Dog, Tupac Shakur and P Diddy. And, shrewd marketing has resulted in limited-edition bottles (in various shapes) and brands that are not sold in the United States. Hennessey has certainly captured the spirit of “creating” collectibles. They can sell for hundreds of dollars apiece.

2. Paul Frank Straight T-Shirts: Well, I certainly learned something I didn’t know. Namely that a cartoonist named Paul Frank founded an industry that makes $15 character T-shirts and a lot of people (young and old) really like them, especially the straight ones with the company’s most famous character, Julius, on the front. And Julius kind of reminds me of Curious George, that famous monkey from the popular children’s book series that began in 1941. Curious George, now there’s a great icon!

1923 Acousticon Hearing Aid, Model JR.

3. Acousticon Hearing Aid: It’s always so much fun to look at old technology and see how far it has advanced. Dictaphone made many varieties of these carbon hearing aids from 1900 to 1939. The aids consisted of a 2- to 3-inch microphone (that could be pinned to your shirt) with an amplifier, a battery and a heavy wire that ran up to an earphone. Some models also had 3-pound boxes to carry along with volume controls and larger batteries. These sold for around $100 in 1923, which made them very expensive devices. Today, the different models have an auction value of $50 to $175.

1916 Standing Liberty Quarter.

4. 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter: Two of the things that can drive collectible value are rarity and controversy. And this coin has both. The 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter, designed by Herman A. McNeil, depicted Miss Liberty with her right breast exposed. The Art Nouveau style was very popular during this period—it emphasized stylized, flowing lines and erotic features—so the coin was typical of the trends in decorative arts. In fact, several prominent sculptures had submitted designs for the coin, but McNeil’s rendition was selected. An initial pressing of 52,000 copies were completed in late December 1916 and began to be released in January 1917. But the public objected immediately and the coin was removed from circulation. A high-grade example can sell today for $20,000 to $35,000.

A Meissen Pagoda Nodder.

Geico Gecko Bobblehead.

5. Geico Bobblehead: Porcelain nodding head figures originated in China in the early 1700s (the head is attached with a spring and thus bobs when tapped). Meissen (the famous German china maker from the town of the same name) manufactured several elaborate Pagoda versions in the 19th century—with nodding heads, arms and tongues. In the 1950s, paper mâché figures began to appear—mostly associated with sports personalities. Today, plastic renditions abound. Those fabulous old Meissen figures can sell for $3,000 to $10,000. But the gecko bobblehead? $10 to $20.

Blackthorn shillelagh from Cork, Ireland.

6. Irish Shillelagh: It’s good to see that our Irish friends are collectors too. A shillelagh is a walking stick (or club) with a large knob on top. It is usually made from blackthorn or oak and is recognized as a symbol of Irish people (think of the iconic leprechaun with his walking stick). It was also conveniently used as a bonk-on-the-head weapon. The values can vary widely based on age and workmanship. The one in this photo sold for $70.

Modern adult RoboCop costume.

7. RoboCop Costume: Hmmm . . . Apparently, everyone needs one of these to wear to Comic-Con. The suit was also a hot Halloween costume last year. Who knew cyborgs were so popular? The violent 1987 movie about crime in Detroit spawned a lot of merchandise, and fans are raising money to erect a life-size RoboCop statue in the city, despite their mayor’s polite (and smart) rejection of the idea. A super deluxe costume retails for $125.

8. 1957 Topps Yankee Power Hitters Baseball Card #407: Yeah! What a classic collectible this is, featuring Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra (pictured at the top of this article). In my opinion, it should be Number 1 on our list, but I guess that’s why I’m not a spokesperson for Hennessey. A lot of collectors say this is their favorite card in the whole 1957 Topps set, which was the first to include full player statistics. The card featuring the two famous sluggers was the very last one in the set of 407. An example in excellent condition can sell for $200 to $500.

A Pea Coat.

9. Boondock Saints Jacket: Violent crime movie merchandising wins again. A lot of people seem to love the blue, wool pea coats worn in 1999’s “Boondock Saints,” a movie about two Irish brothers who become vigilantes to kill mafia gang members in Boston. Fan sites advertise an “official Boondock” coat, but vintage pea coats are always classy. They were originally worn by sailors in the navy and can be traced back to at least the early 1700s in both England and the United States. They’ve gone in and out of style over the years (Jackie Onassis was often photographed wearing one in the 1970s). They can be purchased from Navy surplus stores for $125.

1799 George Washington funeral medal.

10. 1799 George Washington Funeral Medal: These commemorative medals were sold as keepsakes after Washington’s death. Many have a hole at the top that was drilled in order to suspend the medal on a necklace. Beware of modern counterfeits and reproductions. Genuine medals vary widely in value, depending on factors such as the type of metal, luster, quality, condition and design on the back. The ones with the skull and crossbones on the back can sell for $10,000 to $20,000.

Liz Holderman is a Worthologist who specializes in collectible books.

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2 Comments

  1. Jeanne Tatum says:

    I was very surprised to see pea coats on your list! My dad was in the Navy on a destroyer during the Korean War and I have his pea coat. The inside is lined and has the “Naval Clothing Depot” tag on the inside breast pocket. His name and “serial number” are stamped and then embroidered in yellow thread on the inside. The outside has the 6 big buttons w/the anchor on them. It’s 100% wool. It’s a wonderful coat. If the ones for sale in the Navy surplus stores are as heavy and well-made as the one I have, they are seriously underpricing them!

  2. Jim says:

    Some old pea coats go for a lot of money. They are in style. I know for a fact that I would pay a few hundred for an old pea coat that fits well. They are really hard to find.