Q & A with Harry Rinker: Venus Paradise Coloring Sets, ‘Down Beat’ Issues

QUESTION: I am seeking information about Venus Paradise coloring sets. Every path I tried, including Google, led me to a big zero. Are they being hoarded? I would like to buy one for my upcoming birthday.

– CDZ, West Hartford, CT, via e-mail

I did a Google search and found information about Venus Paradise coloring sets. Try “Venus Paradise color by number sets.”

Venus Paradise coloring sets were a pencil version of paint by number. Caitlin posted “Paint by Number & Venus Paradise” on Feb. 3, 2009 on the Web site Jiffy Pop Culture. The article notes:

“Another memorable art set from the 1960s was the Venus Paradise Coloring Set. Although these were market[ed] mostly for children, these sets utilized colored pencils and it was easy to learn various colored pencil techniques. The outline artwork was numbered and the colored pencils needed for the illustration were included in the set. These were vibrantly colored, rich media pencils, that would be considered a cross between the hard Berol pencils and the softer Prismacolor pencils, although Venus Paradise colored pencils were hard enough to sharpen to a sharp point without crumbling….”

Harry RinkerSubject matter covered a wide range of images—American Indian scenes, animals, landscapes, outer space and scuba diving. The initial cost was $1 per set. The unit price rose slowly over time. Venus Paradise was still in business in 1996. An Internet seller is offering a 1996 Gumby and Pokey Venus Paradise coloring set for $14.95 plus shipping. An eBay seller has a 1982 Smurf set listed at a “best offer” price of $35.

There are several reasons you are not finding sets available. First, the market is small. Once a person has bought an example, he/she leaves the market. You are planning to do this. Second, there is no collectors’ market. The paint by number set collecting craze has passed. Third, when discovered, their low secondary market value encourages finders to discard them. Venus Paradise coloring sets cannot pass the “who cares” test.

Venus Paradise coloring sets that are offered for sale have crossover value. They appeal to the specialized theme collector more than the paint by number collector.

Persistence counts. Keep watching eBay. In a month or two, you will find an example with a theme that pleases you at a price you are willing to pay.


QUESTION: I have a collection of “Down Beat” magazines that date between 1943 and 1945. They are in good to very good condition. Covers include black and white photographs of Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Dinah Shore. I also have a few issues of “Band Leader” from that same time period, one of which features a color head and shoulder portrait of Glenn Miller. What are they worth?

– MB, Bethlehem, PA

ANSWER: “Down Beat” is alive and well. It started life with a jazz focus and then shifted its coverage to swing, followed by “bop, pop, rock, freedom, fusion and nineties neoclassicism, all from the perspective of the musician.” – downbeat.com.

Albert J. Lipschultz, an insurance salesman by trade, launched “Down Beat” in July 1934. The initial eight-page issue cost 10 cents. The company was headquartered on the eighth floor of the Woods Theater building on the corner of Clark and Dearborn in Chicago. Lipschultz sold his interest to Glenn Burrs in November 1934 when James C. Petrillo, president of Local 10 of the American Federation of Musicians, told Lipschultz he could sell either insurance or magazines to his union members but not both.

“About Down Beat: A History As Rich As Jazz Itself” on downbeat.com notes: “Down Beat covers were a mixture of celebrated musicians and anonymous models. Photos of sexy models in bathing suits and tight sweaters and aspiring starlets adorned every second or third cover…When a top bandleader was featured, it was often at the cost of considerable personal dignity…With rare exceptions, a picture on Down Beat’s cover had absolutely nothing to do with anything inside the magazine, save for a brief identifying caption in a small inside box. From July 1936 through 1952 Down Beat published about 375 covers, and fewer than 145 featured any important jazz figures. Woody Herman holds the cover record in those years with 11. Jimmy Dorsey and Duke Ellington are tied at second with 10 each…

Initially published monthly, it went to a twice a month (first and fifteen) schedule in 1939. In January 1946 the magazine went bi-weekly. It returned to a monthly magazine in April 1979.

The Down Beat Web site contains a detailed history of the magazine. My attempt to find a history of “Band Leader” met with failure.

The secondary market retail value of your “Down Beat” magazines varies from $3 to $4 for issues with swimsuit model covers to $15 to $20 for issues with Hall of Fame musician covers. Most will be collected for their cover illustration, even though there is little to no follow-up inside. An inside article, especially a photo spread of a well-known band, can impact value. Although not as well known as “Down Beat,” 1940s “Band Leader” covers featured cover art of leading swing band leaders and singers. Values range from $10 to $20 per issue. Add a 25-percent premium to both when a cover features a black artist.

“Down Beat” and “Band Leader” magazines appear regularly for sale on eBay and other Internet auction sites. They also can be found at paper advertising, book, and ephemera shows.


QUESTION: I recently acquired an original signed watercolor by Milton C. Weiler titled “Up the Inlet.” It is triple matted and framed. The inside measurements, mat edge to mat edge, are 16 inches by 9 inches. The back is covered in plain brown paper with a calling card in a clear pocket that reads: “The Sportsman’s Gallery / Of Art and Books, Inc. / 7 East 55th St. / New York, 22, New York.” What is it worth?

– MP, Bethlehem, PA

ANSWER: Milton C. Weiler (1910-1974) is a famous sporting artist. His studio was located in Garden City, Long Island. His friends included Paul Brown and Lynn Bogue Hunt, other famous sporting artists. Weiler, along with his sons Bud and Dale, had a lifelong interest in fly fishing, wing shooting and outdoor activities.

Weiler’s work is collected and appears for sale at auctions and galleries on a regular basis. I found two copies of “Up the Inlet” offered for sale, one at $2,000 and a second at best offer above $3,000. Auction estimates for comparable works are between $2,000 and $3,000.

However, as is often the case these days, auction listings either failed to sell or realized less than the low estimate. The secondary market retail value for your watercolor is between $650 and $750, and a tough sell even at these prices.


QUESTION: Many years ago I purchased a National Cash Register brass cash register made for Pepsi Cola. I contacted National Cash Register trying to find out more information about it. When I gave them the serial number, they informed me that they had no records of the machine. When you lift up the breast plate, there are number dials that track the number of gallons sold as well as the moneys spent. There are two separate cash drawers. While the outside of the cash register looks new or fully restored, the inside of the drawers and the mechanism show signs of heavy use. What is the value of my cash register?

– LS, Bethlehem, PA

ANSWER: The antiques and collectibles business is not always a good news business. This is one of those times. Your cash register is a fantasy piece, an example that did not exist historically. Technically, it is a fake, deliberately made to deceive. It was sold initially for what it was, a fact that became lost as it passed through the hands of subsequent sellers.

Ask A WorthologistI called Allan Petretti (Nostalgia Publication, PO Box 4175, River Edge, NJ 07661; nostpubl@aol.com), a good friend and author of prices guides to Coca-Cola and soda pop collectibles. Allan informed me that a gentleman in Chicago in the period between 1979 and 1983-84 had phony cash register front (breast) and top plates made for Coca-Cola and Pepsi. He purchased period cash registers and replaced the existing front and top plates with his fantasy plates.

Time is the enemy when identifying reproductions (exact copies), copycats (stylistic copies), fantasies and fakes. When these items first enter the market, word spreads among auctioneers, collectors, dealers and others. Since there are no reproduction-fake databanks, time slowly irradiates the information. Thirty years have passed. Individuals 50 or younger are probably unaware that these items are not correct.

The good news is that the balance of the cash register’s body and the interior mechanism are period. Hence, your cash register’s value is based on what a similar National Cash Register brass cash register from the same time would realize, in this instance between $300 and $350.

You now face an ethical dilemma. If you offer your fake Pepsi cash register for sale on eBay or in another venue and do not provide its history, an unsuspecting buyer will assume it is a period piece and may pay an inflated price. I am certain you paid far more than $350. Consider the price difference as tuition, part of the cost of learning the antiques and collectibles business. Sell your mistake honestly. Do not send it back into the trade so it becomes the next owner’s problem.


Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out his Web site: http://www.harryrinker.com

You can listen and participate in “WHATCHA GOT?,” Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show 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 letters will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5093 Vera Cruz Road, Emmaus, PA 18049. You also 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. 2009

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