Vintage Standard Doll Co. Catalog Pages

I don’t only dig through stacks of old magazines and papers; I go through them, page by page. How else would I find this page listing Virginia Lakin publications? (More scans from that booklet here.)

Found inside this 1977 Standard Doll Co. catalog, along with this page of Kate Greenaway postcards, miniature patterns, dollhouse items, etc..

Vintage catalogs are great ways to help date and identify what you have — and identify other items you need for your collection. *wink*

Vintage Birthday Greetings From Goldilocks & The Three Bears

This vintage greeting card has birthday wishes from Goldilocks and Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear, aka The Three Bears.

Along with the cute illustrations (there are even three bowls of porridge on the back!), this card opens to reveal a four-page storybook!

The story is, naturally, of Goldilocks And The Three Bears.

The back of the card only bears the stock number (565) and Made in U.S.A., but the back of the little story-booklet (also marked 565 and made in the U.S.A., so it’s surely its original mate) says the copyright belongs to A.G.C.C., 1949.

A.G.C.C. made several versions of these greeting cards for children with nursery rhyme story inserts — a great way to begin collecting vintage greeting cards!

Now in our Etsy shop.

The Mentor Magazine

The Mentor magazine is an obscure vintage magazine for several reasons: The creator’s intentions, its various incarnations, and rather shoddy historical record (it is not listed in the National Union Catalogue of Periodicals).

The publication begins with William David Moffat. Moffat attended Princeton; while in school he has several works published, mostly sports stories for boys under the name William D. Moffat. Upon his graduation in 1884, he went to work for Scribner’s where he’d stay for two decades, working his way up from sales, to the education department and finally the business manager for The Book Buyer and Scribner’s Magazine. In 1905 he leaves Scribner to form his own publishing house, Moffat, Yard & Company, with fellow Princeton alum Robert S. Yard. By June of 1912, Yard was no longer active in the company, and Moffat, Yard & Co. announced it was moving in to share the offices of another publishing house, John Lane Company. While this was said not to be a true merger, but rather a shared management and expenses sort of a thing, it is at this time that Moffat begins The Mentor Association.

The Mentor Association is rather like Moffat’s attempt at a think tank. He gathers men who were specialists in their area and, with himself as editor, they proceed to share their information in a publication so that persons might “learn one thing every day.” This publication was The Mentor. Here’s how the association and publication were described (taken from The Mentor, Volume I, Number 38, November 3, 1913):

The purpose of The Mentor Association is to give people, in an interesting and attractive way, the information in various fields of knowledge that they all want and ought to have. The information is imparted by interesting reading matter, prepared under the direction of leading authors, and by beautiful pictures, produced by the most highly perfected modern processes.

The object of The Mentor Association is to enable people to acquire useful knowledge without effort, so that they may come easily and agreeably to know the world s great men and women, the great achievements, and the permanently interesting things in art, literature, science, history, nature and travel.

…We want The Mentor to be regarded as a companion. It has often been said that books are friends. We give you in The Mentor the good things out of many books, and in a form that is easy to read and that taxes you little for time. A library is a valuable thing to have if you know how to use it. But there are not many people who know how to use a library. If you are one of those who don t know, it would certainly be worth your while to have a friend who could take from a large library just what you want to know and give it to you in a pleasant way. The Mentor can be such a friend to you.

And since the word “library” has been used, let us follow that just a bit further. The Mentor may well become yourself in library form. Does that statement seem odd? Then let us put it this way: The Mentor is a cumulative library for you, each day, each week a library that grows and develops as you grow and develop a library that has in it just the things that you want to know and ought to know and nothing else. Day by day and week by week you add with each number of The Mentor something to your mental growth. You add it as you add to your stature by healthy development; and the knowledge that you acquire in this natural, agreeable way becomes a permanent possession. You gather weekly what you want to know, and you have it in an attractive, convenient form. It be comes thus, in every sense, your library, containing the varied things that you know. And you have its information and its beautiful pictures always ready to hand to refer to and to refresh your mind.

So in time your assembled numbers of The Mentor will represent in printed and pictorial form the fullness of your own knowledge.

It is also in this issue, that The Mentor gets a new look:

We have chosen this cover after a number of experiments. It has not been an easy matter to settle. The Mentor, as we have stated more than once, is not simply a magazine. It does not call for the usual magazine cover treatment. What we have always wanted and have always sought for from the beginning has been a cover that would express, in the features of its design, the quality of the publication. In the endeavor to make clear by dignified design the educational value and importance of The Mentor, the tendency would be to lead on to academic severity and that we desire least of all. On the other hand, it would be manifestly inappropriate to wear a coat of many colors. The position of The Mentor in the field of publication is peculiar its interest unique. How best could its character be expressed in decorative design?

We believe that Mr. Edwards has given us in the present cover a fitting expression of the character of The Mentor. It is unusual in its lines that is, for a periodical. It has the quality of a fine book cover design at least so we think. It will, we believe, invite readers of taste and intelligence to look inside The Mentor, and as experience has taught us, an introduction
to The Mentor usually leads on to continued acquaintance.

Originally The Mentor was a weekly, published by the Associated Newspaper School, Inc. (New York City) and hardly more than a pamphlet or folio; a dozen or so pages with “exquisite intaglio gravures” loose inside. (The fact that these images were not bound in the publication means issues are often found incomplete.) Each slim issue was on a specific theme and there were tie-ins with newspapers, adding to The Mentor‘s educational publication feel.

From a practical standpoint, the narrow focus of each theme likely complicated or limited the periodical’s circulation numbers. It’s one thing to say your publication is “an institution of learning established for the development of a popular interest in art, literature, science, history, nature, and travel,” but with such issue-specific themes, readers may have done what collectors who spot copies do today: Pending the theme, either fell in love or turned up their noses and eschewed the entire publication.

(Most collectors seem to covet The Mentor on an issue by issue basis; seeking out the single issue the theme of which suits their collecting interest, or coveting the January 1929 issue on Famous Collectors & Collecting.)

Perhaps this is why in its second year, The Mentor ceases weekly publication and lowers costs by being published only twice a month.(Subscription fees change from $5 to $3 a year.) It still retains the single theme per issue, but perhaps the frequency of publication change is also seen as a better way to market itself. It is also at this time that the publisher is changed from Associated Newspaper School to The Mentor Association.

By mid-1919 wartime inflation would forced the price of subscriptions to The Mentor to increase to $4 per year — but bigger changes were coming.

It was during this time that The Mentor becomes a monthly and introduces more color on the covers.

In the October 1920 issue, the magazine increased the number of pages to 40 and, finally, the six gravure pictures were bound into the center of the magazine, becoming numbered pages in each issue. It is also at this time that The Mentor softens its strict each-issue-devoted-to-a-theme stance, allowing the last five pages of each issue to free of the main topic.

In 1921, The Mentor is purchased by Crowell Publishing Co. with W. D. Moffat remaining on as editor. There are no noted changes until the August 1922 issue’s page size increase. (By the April 1927 issue, the page size of The Mentor would grow to the same size as that time’s Atlantic Monthly.)

In 1929, the 63 year old Moffat is ready to retire as editor of The Mentor. It is in this news bit from Time magazine (August 19, 1929) announcing the change, that we get more insight into the Moffat’s intentions and legacy:

Editor Moffat never aimed at mass-circulation. Even when mass-circularizing Crowell Publishing Co. (American Magazine, Colliers, Woman’s Home Companion) bought The Mentor in 1920, it did not commercialize original Mentor ideals, but retained Editor Moffat, continued to please the 50,000, the 70,000, finally the 100,000 who liked The Mentor for what it was.

And now is when the magazine changes significantly; as reported in that same Time article:

Starting with the next (September) issue, The Mentor will no longer have a theme-subject. Instead there will be articles on many a different topic, by such authors as Walter Davenport, W. E. Woodward, Margaret Widdemer, Will Durant. There will be seven four-color pages in place of rotogravure; a cover in the “modern manner”; a history of tennis by William Tatem Tilden, 2nd; a history of dog fashions by Albert Payson Terhune.

To make The Mentor youthful, Crowell Publishing Co. has put a youthful man in the editorship, Hugh Anthony Leamy, just past 30, round-faced, amiable, onetime New York Sun reporter, for the last three years an associate editor of Collier’s. About The Mentor, what its plans are, he will talk with hopeful enthusiasm. About new Editor Leamy he is reticent. “I’m still an untried man at this job,” he explains. “But The Mentor? Well, you know, we thought it best to go through with a big change all at once to keep it up with the changing times. . . . You might call the new Mentor a nonfiction, up-to-date magazine for people who want to learn about various matters, but who want to be amused at the same time—not bored.”

Now The Mentor is printed in the style of that period’s Vanity Fair; from the slick paper and illustrative appearance to the “modern” and “amusing” content, including fiction.

But the dumbing-down and dressing-up didn’t help circulation any; as Time reported in April 21, 1930:

Crowell Publishing Co. employes found an announcement on their bulletin board one morning last week, which read: “The Company has sold The Mentor to the World Traveler Magazine Corp. — George R. Martin, publisher.† They will assume the publishing of The Mentor, beginning with the June 1930 issue. We have become convinced that The Mentor will have a much better opportunity if handled by a publisher equipped to take care of the smaller units. Here we are fully and thoroughly geared up to handle large units and it has become difficult to give The Mentor the necessary small unit attention. We feel that Mr. Martin and his organization are equipped to continue The Mentor successfully.”

…Although the magazine’s circulation reached 85,000, it became apparent that it would never pull in harness with its whopping big Crowell team-mates—Woman’s Home Companion, Collier’s, The Country Home (onetime Farm & Fireside), The American Magazine — whose combined circulation is over 8,500,000.

To World Traveler, the Mentor went lock, stock & barrel—with the exception of Editor Leamy.

…Publisher Martin contemplates fusing his old magazine with his new, placing the amalgam under the direction of World Traveler’s Editor Charles P. Norcross, now junketing in the Orient. Because World Traveler has about one-fourth of its stablemate’s distribution, and because when two magazines combine one inevitably swallows the other, publishers guessed that the ever-mutating Mentor would be the one to endure.

† Not to be confused with George Martin, one-time (1918—29) editor of Crowell’s Farm & Fireside.

The publications were combined as The Mentor — World Traveller and given a new look, the pages enlarged to slightly larger than the size of Life magazine. But contrary to what the publishers in that 1930 Time magazine article said, The Mentor doesn’t seem to be the one to have endured. Nor did the The Mentor — World Traveller.

According to Paul W. Healy in The Ecphorizer:

As an indication that the end was not far off, the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature stopped indexing the magazine in December 1930. My last issue is January 1931; I have reason to believe it was the last published.

If you have anything to add to The Mentor story, please let us know!

Image Credits:

First issue of The Mentor magazine (Volume 1, Number 1, February 17, 1913) with six gravures via 2010lilbolharsky.

Photo of set of three vintage Mentor issues and April 1930 cover via mom-and-me-1971.

Collecting Children’s Books: Lessons In Rabbit & Skunk

Rabbit and Skunk and the Scary Rock, by Carla Stevens (illustrations by Robert Kraus) is one of my fondest childhood reading memories. Of course, I had completely forgotten about this book until I spotted it at one of those church rummage sales where you pay $2 for whatever you can fit into a paper bag. But the instant I saw that cover, it all flooded back — and I neatly snatched it up and put it in my bag.

I was so excited by the find that I was shocked to discover that neither hubby nor the kids had ever heard of what I consider to be a childhood classic! Apparently it’s been out of print for a number of years now. *sigh* (But you can still find cheap copies at at eBay.)

Remembering reading about Rabbit and Skunk and their fright over the scary talking rock is far more delicious than reading it now; sometimes you really can’t go home again. *deep sigh*

But then collecting children’s books isn’t about reading and rereading them — at least not alone by yourself. No, collecting children’s books is about literally holding-on to those precious literary memories, about the tangible connection to those fragile and magical moments of those early joys of reading… We get to hold in our hands again those things we still hold dear in our hearts.

Rabbit and Skunk and the Scary Rock, for those unfamiliar, was published by Scholastic Book Services, so it was a very early reading experience for me. I remember reading and rereading it, the repetition more than that soothing familiarity children seek, but a mastery of the adventure — with each read I could take myself out there and bring myself back again. All by myself! No longer was I held hostage to the schedules and preferences of others; no longer was I stuck to the confines of my room, my house, my world — I could go anywhere, do anything!

And, just as Rabbit and Skunk discovered, big scary things aren’t always what they seem. You just have to muddle through to the end, that’s all.

Thinking of this reminded me of another childhood favorite: The Monster at the End of this Book.

By the time this book came out, I was way past both Sesame Street and Little Golden Books — but I had younger cousins, and they love-loveloved it when I read them the story of silly Grover’s fear of a monster. How could he be afraid of a monster at the end of the book when (spoiler alert!) he is, of course, a monster himself!

One of the reasons I enjoyed reading this book over and over to my younger cousins was because of its similarity to Rabbit and Skunk’s adventure. There’s the silliness, of course, but primarily the books address fear. My understanding of the concept of fear was, as a young reader, closely tied to the fear of reaching the end. The anxiety of “What would they find?!” was sort of a high… And the resolution rather a come-down. Not specifically because it wasn’t terrifying enough or was anti-climactic in anyway, but because all that good stuff was at an end. (In some ways, that hasn’t changed; I still loath for a good book to end.)

I was then left with a choice, do I read it again or select another adventure? (Never was the choice not to read.) What if the new adventure isn’t as good as the old one? …But, if I read the old one again, what might I be missing? Staying in the middle of a great read, looking forward to the miles to go, is always my favorite place to be.

This confusing pull surrounding endings — even those with new beginnings — is what I find myself struggling with each New Year’s Eve.  If I might be allowed a cynical moment here, I suspect most of us feel that way and that’s why drinking alcohol and partying have become de rigueur; we just are too uncomfortable with “Goodbye.” And facing a “Hello,” even after a bad year, is to wonder if we wouldn’t really be better off sticking with the old one…

But, as this year is about to end, I must remind myself of Rabbit, Skunk, Grover, and reading books taught me. Be brave. Big scary things aren’t always what they seem. Whatever you’re going through, it’s better when you have a friend to share it with. You just have to muddle through to the end, that’s all. And then look forward to the next adventure.

After all, you can’t prevent this New Year from arriving anymore than Grover could prevent the end of the book. So you might as well embrace it. Happy New Year, one and all!

Celebrating The Wishbone (In Old Illustration)

‘Tis the season for fabulous holiday meals featuring turkey, and this antique illustration shows the longevity of breaking the wishbone.

This illustration, captioned “If Their Wishes Came True,” was scanned from my copy of Caricature: The Wit & Humor of a Nation in Picture, Song & Story (Illustrated by America’s Greatest Artists).

I’ve only a partial cover of my copy of Caricature; but at a mere $6, I’m not disheartened, for it’s full of fabulous art, quips, and stories. It’s like a time capsule, really. And it’s not just me being sentimental.

Near as I can tell (for there’s no copyright or publication date), this antique book contains “the best of” Leslie-Judge Company publications, such as Leslie’s Weekly and Judge Magazine.

This specific illustration showing a couple breaking the wishbone is credited; copyright, Judge, New York, 1915. However as the corner is torn, I cannot make out the artist’s name.  I’m hoping a more experienced illustration collector can tell us more about who the artist was or may have been… Please post a comment if you’ve any information!

From Bull Cook To Bull Crap With George Leonard Herter

At an estate sale on Friday I grabbed this book, thinking it would have some interesting recipes and tips for my vintage home ec blog. It was $5, which I’ll admit is a bit more than I typically pay for a book I know nothing about… Oddly, there was no table of contents to assist me in my evaluation, but the title was intriguing: Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices.

Turns out, it was a fabulous find!

Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter, is the first of a number of books by Geoerge Leonard Herter (some available as modern reprints). In fact, Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices itself would later have three volumes; something I discovered via a trip later that day to a local antique mall, where all three volumes could be found (even later editions, in golden boards; each at $19.95).

While I haven’t tested any of the recipes (and there’s more than a few I will probably never ever try!), I can personally attest to the incredible array of topics covered in this vintage book.

Along with recipes for corning liquid, Norwegian Fried Ham, and Fish Tongues Scandinavian, Herter gives you the real history of the Martini, informs you which foods the Virgin Mary was fond of (creamed spinach), instructs you on how to dress a turtle and broil tiger’s feet, and tells you what you must know in case of a hydrogen bomb attack. It’s rather as the author promises right on the first page:

I will start with meats, fish, eggs, soups and sauces, sandwiches, vegetables, the art of French frying, desserts, how to dress game, how to properly sharpen a knife, how to make wines and beer, how to make French soap and also what to do in case of hydrogen or cobalt bomb attack, keeping as much in alphabetical order as possible.

But what makes this book so engaging — or, as Paul Collins calls it in The New York Times, “one of the greatest oddball masterpieces in this or any other language” — is its author. Collins describes George Leonard Herter as “a  surly sage, gun-toting Minnesotan and All-American crank” –which translates easily enough to “old coot,” a breed I am particularly fond of.

Herter was the heir to Herter’s, Inc., an outdoor sporting goods business founded in 1893 located in Waseca, Minnesota. (The company closed decades ago; but the brand lives on via Cabela’s — and hunters and sportsmen are avoid collectors of vintage Herter’s items.)

It’s not quite clear if Herter’s authorship was simply a genius marketing move, or if he just had more he was desperate to say — even after writing thousands of product descriptions and essays for the company’s catalogs, like this 1974 “How to Buy an Outdoor Knife” essay, whi to promote Herter’s Improved Bowie Knife:

An outdoor knife must be made for service–not show. Your life may depend on it. Real outdoor people realize that so-called sportsmen or outdoor knives have long been made for sale, not for use. The movies and television show their characters wearing fancy sheath knives. Knife makers advertised them and drugstore outdoorsmen bought them. [insert a picture that looks something like a Marble Woodcraft or an old Western fixed blade here] Nothing marks a man to be a tenderfoot more than these showy useless knives.

Ahh, classic Herter.

But whatever the case, savvy marketing or the need to “talk,” Herter was prolific and opinionated in his writings.

Most of Herter’s books were, at least in title, based upon the sporting goods business and the outdoorsman’s life — even with a few giant steps into the domestic world.  However, his book How To Live With A Bitch is not — I repeat NOT, about a female hunting dog. (If you cannot find a copy listed among Herter’s works at eBay, check Amazon for this elusive gem.)

So, what begins with a $5 bargain (for a hardcover copy of a 1961 third printing), leads to more fascinating fun than I can barely stand — but wait! There’s more!

I found this book on Friday morning at an estate sale, spotted the three volumes at an antique mall later that afternoon,  and then I even managed to snatch another copy (1963, sixth printing) for $6 at an auction on Saturday! This makes me very hopeful that more Herter books will fall into my hands — and I’m thrilled to do more of the collector’s kind of hunting.

Further reading:

A review of Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter at Neglected Books.

Reminiscing about Herter’s at Topix.

Image credits:

Photo of George Herter, by Peter Marcus (1966) via the NY Times article by Paul Collins.

Vintage photo of Herter’s Inc. via Waseca Alums.

Learning From Vintage Ephemera About The Condition Of Collectibles

I know folks like to think I rationalize my compulsion for vintage booklets and magazines, but I think there’s gold in them-there old pages!

Today’s example comes from 367 Prize Winning Household Hints From The Armour Radio Show Hint Hunt, circa 1940s, a booklet from the daily CBS radio show. Included in this vintage booklet are some tips on books, magazines and phonograph records which might just be of use to the collector.

The advice regarding magazines is “to have each member of the family initial the cover of a magazine as they finish reading it so you will know when the magazine may be discarded.”

This, my fellow ephemera collectors, might explain the seemingly random multiple initials on vintage magazine covers.

Now for you book collectors; the tip for preventing “library mold” is to sprinkle oil of lavender, sparingly, throughout the book case.

While I doubt the scent would last very long, if persons practiced such things, it might account for oil spots on vintage book covers and pages.

The last tip is regarding records: “Warped phonograph records can be straightened for playing by placing the records on any flat surface in a warm room and weighing them down with heavy books.”

Given the temperature it takes to melt vinyl records — and that this advice was given in the 40s, when records certainly weren’t made of that flimsy vinyl of the 70′ or 80s, I imagine that everyone in the house sat around in their undies sweating while mom or dad un-warped the family’s records.  But that’s just me romanticizing the past *wink*

EBay’s Comic Book Superhero Auction Event

EBay’s Comic Book Superhero Auction Event event, timed to run alongside the box office premiere of Iron Man 2 starring Robert Downey Jr., runs through Sunday May 9th, 2010.

During this event several rare and collectible comic related items — many never before offered for sale on eBay — will be featured. Along with vintage comic books (single issues and complete runs), the auctions include original art, signed prints, memorabilia, and specially designed artwork such as an Iron Man drawing rendered specifically for this promotional eBay event by comics artist Joe Linsner.

Bidding starts at $0.99 for most items; for items valued over $1,000, the bidding starts at $99.99. All items are available as auctions with free shipping and no reserve.

No, I Swear It Really Is All About the Articles, Playboy Magazine Back Issues

Ah yes, Playboy Magazine, I have fond memories, as if that’s a strange recollection for a man my age to have. Actually I do have old Playboy Collecting stories as around the time my Dad was collecting comic books back in the 70’s he was collecting men’s magazines as well. His collection stopped around 1980 and so it was probably around that time, no later than ’81, when I was nine and he had stacks upon stacks of nudie mags spread around the living room … and I entertained myself absorbed in this brand new world until he snapped at me asking what I was doing and I gave the now tired response of just reading the articles.

Playboy Magazine November 1965 James Bonds Girls Cover

In the mid-80’s when Dad was looking to sell I took what I felt was the appropriately jaded position of mocking my 8th Grade English Professor when he came to the house as a prospective customer. Well, not to his face, but I still chuckle thinking about it as he tried selling us on the fact that he was mainly interested in the literature inside those skin magazines. Dad eventually unloaded the collection to a fellow baseball card dealer during those card show days I so fondly look back upon, getting $1,000 cash and a few hundred in trade which he kindly passed my way.

But time marches on and suddenly half of my own business is dealing in magazine back issues and what title do I love to stock as much as any other? 1960’s issues of Playboy, and yes, it’s for the literature and the literature alone that I do so!

Playboy Magazine December 1965

Just this week I was pleasantly surprised to receive a dozen issues of Playboy from my favorite years, 1965-66, that were in such immaculate condition I felt like I’d just returned from a time machine trip to a Johnson Era newsstand. Forget that the pages are immaculate and the centerfolds are firmly attached, these are so nice that when describing them I’m noting dust-free covers and shiny staples in the binding. Bee-yoo-tees, they are, inside and out, and despite, yes, taking a quick gander at Catherine Deneuve in the buff, circa 1965, I swear, scout’s honor, it’s all about the lit.

Highlights:

  • Serialized portions of two James Bond stories by Ian Fleming, The Man With the Golden Gun over several 1965 issues; Octopussy in 1966
  • Serialized fiction by Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov
  • Fiction by P.G. Wodehouse
  • Fiction by Henry Miller
  • A Lee Harvey Oswald article by John Clellon Holmes
  • Interviews with Bob Dylan, Peter O’Toole, Bond himself, Sean Connery, among others
  • A wonderful nostalgia article by Jules Feiffer titled The Great Comic Book Heroes: Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel and all the rest of that marvelous crew; whence they came, who created them, and why they occupied a special place apart in the fantasies of our youth.

Plus them pictures. Sure, I may take a gander at Ursula Andress, er, I mean Catherine Deneuve, when paging through and noting contents, but the real meat inside vintage 1960’s issues of Playboy isn’t in the skin, it’s in the lit. I swear!

The Final Days of Babe Ruth as Covered in The Sporting News

Babe Ruth and William Bendix for The Babe Ruth Story
In between the two issues covered in this post came the August 11, 1948 edition of The Sporting News which includes this full page ad for Louisville Slugger bats featuring Babe Ruth in street clothes with William Bendix, star of the recently released The Babe Ruth Story

I currently have a couple of the more important issues of The Sporting News in my possession, but decided to try and generate a little excitement with them on eBay so they’re only going to be mine now through Sunday. Since they’re soon headed out the door I thought it’d be a good time to take a little better look at them and soak up some of that classic content.

While The Sporting News has evolved with the times to cover all sports, these two issues are from the period when it still proclaimed itself “The Baseball Paper of the World” just under its masthead. Volume 1, Number 1 was published in 1886 and over the years the format evolved from text-only to include photos and eventually several cartoons in each issue by renowned sports artists such as Lou Darvas and Willard Mullin. I’ve had a hard time laying hands on any issues before the mid-1920’s, but actually those issues through the late 30’s are a tougher sell as the sports paper was very different in both and size and format, despite at heart being the same baseball paper of the world.

For more information here’s a History of The Sporting News that I wrote some time back for one of my sites, Collecting Old Magazines.

Vintage issues of the 1940’s and 50’s have become some of my favorite items to handle as I find them ridiculously undervalued by comparison to most sports memorabilia. Maybe there’s just too much–each issue is packed and you’d be hard-pressed to come across an issue where multiple future Hall of Famers aren’t covered. Issues from this period measure approximately 12″ X 16.5″ with all the condition sensitivity of a 60-70 year old newspaper. The latest round of Sporting News papers I’d acquired were in spectacular condition with the overriding detraction being age toning–not surprising, but in the case of this group nowhere near as heinous as I’ve seen from some other copies which have passed through over the years. These beauties just have a little tone to their color, I’ve seen them where you can’t page through without bits of the edges flaking off.

Note to potential buyers looking at this post while it’s still fresh: Each of the issues that I’m going to specifically talk about below do have a major flaw–there’s a single page in each with cut-outs. Each issue had several pages including all the box scores for the previous week, well, I guess our original collector liked to clip the good ones! There’s more detail on this in each of the listings.

The issues I wanted to look at here are the June 23 and August 25, 1948 issues of The Sporting News. The Babe Ruth issues.

June 23 features a legendary photograph of the Bambino on the cover, unusual because most covers featured a cartoon by this time, at the 25th Anniversary of Yankee Stadium. While the photograph is not the Pulitzer Prize winning photo by Nat Fein, it is very similar and in fact likely the exact same shot, just taken by a different photographer (Bob Olen of the New York Daily News). The picture in question shows Ruth, at this time ravaged by the cancer which would soon kill him, standing at home plate of the Stadium leaning on a baseball bat to support himself as if it were a cane.

Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium 1948
Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium on the Stadium's Silver Anniversary as covered by The Sporting News

The issue includes quotes from many of the Yankee old-timers on hand to celebrate the Stadium’s anniversary. Here’s a snippet of what Ruth himself had to say:

“Look at this uniform I’m wearing. I’ve had it a helluva long time. It fits me, which proves it’s old. All the newer uniforms I wore when I carried a lot more weight. I’m happy with this gang. They’re my real friends, yesterday, today and tomorrow. I remember we used to be together 154 games a season. If you can still like a guy after all that time he must be all right. I liked them then; I like them now.”

Following are some quotes from sportswriter Dan Daniel’s main coverage of the day’s events. I’ve included them out of order from the original article, but I think in the way I’ve excerpted them they tell a better story for our purposes:

“From first to last it was Babe Ruth Day. The festivities having to do with the old titans of Yankee history started a 2 and finished at 4”

“The event was billed as the silver anniversary of Yankee Stadium, which was dedicated on April 18, 1923, with a game in which Ruth hit his first homer in that park, and beat the Red Sox, 4 to 1.”

“Ruth’s old No. 3 was not only retired, never again to be worn by a Yankee, but his uniform and his number were sent to the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.”

Babe Ruth's number retired at 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium
At the bottom of page various photos of Babe Ruth on June 23. At the top a cartoon shows Ruth's uniform being run up a flag pole. June 23 issue.

“And so No. 3 has passed from use by the Yankees, just as No. 4 was retired when Lou Gehrig went from the championship scene and on to his tragic end.”

“There was a harrowing pathos in the air the day doomed Lou Gehrig bade the fans in Yankee Stadium farewell … But nowhere at no other time did baseball see the sort of thing that was put on display in Yankee Stadium on the afternoon of June 13, 1948.”

“It was the last time the Babe ever will stand at the plate, swinging a bat, with his eyes on those right field stands.

It was the last time that the arena will echo to the roars of the crowd, the last time that cheers for the Babe in the old livery will reverberate through the rafters in which he became famous, and in which he remade the game.”

“As the Babe walked away from the mike, tears streamed down his face. There was a lump in many a throat, and there were some 50,000 in the park, despite the early rain.”

Just two months later the August 25, 1948 issue of The Sporting News would include a special Babe Ruth Section, 8 pages in length, honoring the game’s greatest hero after his death at age 53 on August 16. The coverage looked back at the Sultan of Swat’s life and times with a special concentration on his playing career. Numerous photos illustrated the article and regular Sporting News advertisers, such as Spalding and Hillerich and Bradsby, manufacturers of the famed Louisville Slugger baseball bats, created special Ruth related ad-copy in tribute to the man who changed the game.

First page of The Sporting News special section covering the death of Babe Ruth
The first page of The Sporting News' special 8-page Babe Ruth section included in the August 25, 1948 issue. Ruth actually didn't make the cover of the main section.
A montage of Babe Ruth photos
A full page montage of Babe Ruth photos inside the August 25, 1948 edition of The Sporting News
Hillerich and Bradsby Babe Ruth Memorial Ad
Advertisers pay their respects. In this case Louisville Slugger manufacturer Hillerich and Bradsby take out a full page facing the first page of the tribute section.

If you stick to the book, the only Price Guide I have on these is the 3rd Edition of the Standard Catalog of Sports Memorabilia (2003), which is at least a great guide in identifying content of each issue. They quote the June 23 issue at $300 and the August 25 at $500.

Since I’ve already talked about my feelings about Price Guides in this space it shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve started my auctions at $9.99 each with no reserve. Remember, mine do have half a page cut-out in each, but at the same time, let’s see how much these babies are really worth!

Publication Review: Antique Week

I tend to be vocal about my criticisms of Antique Week. It’s not some internet attitude talking, but human nature; we tend to be more vocal with our complaints than with our compliments. So I figured it was time I gave Antique Week it’s proper due and give it a proper review.

Antique Week is a popular industry publication for antiques and collectibles — and I say it’s an “industry publication” rather than a hobby publication as the weekly focuses heavily not only on pricing, but on information for dealers. Such marketplace information can be a bit of a turn-off for some, but this weekly newspaper (published on actual newsprint) contains lots of good information on antiques, art, and (mainly vintage) collectibles. There’s even a regular column by my no-so-secret crush (who I’ve met several times), Wes Cowan!

While the newspaper is published weekly, not all the stories are timely. (Not to toot my own horn too much, but hubby and I have often beaten Antique Week to the reporting punch. Most recent examples include my article on the antique vampire kit was published October 15, 2009, theirs in the January 11, 2010 issue; and hubby’s article on the 1913 Liberty Nickel was published December 24, 2009, Antique Week‘s was in the January 18, 2010 issue.) But I don’t suppose that matters too much; we’re talking about old things, not social needs or political issues.

Plus there’s lots of ads (from full pagers to classifieds) for antique shops, auctions, flea markets, etc. — including dealers and individual collectors who want stuff. You know when you hear folks on Roadshow etc. casually mentioning those specialized auctions held once or twice a year, or some private collection that’s been up for auction? Well, they’re (usually) found in Antique Week — and in time for you to plan to get to them (or make arrangements to view catalogs and bid) too.

Each issue is in two parts: the first section features news and information by area (Easter, Central, and Western) and the inner National section. And as a subscriber, you have access to the website, where you can search archived issues, auctions, etc.

Honestly, Antique Week is one of the few weekly publications I read every page of and save (though my saving of old newspapers probably surprises no one lol). So thanks, Mom, for renewing my subscription for Christmas!

Right now, you can register for a free four week trial subscription to AntiqueWeek with website access. And you can send a friend a free week or sample issue.

Jessie Lee Had Great Penmanship, But…

The inscription on the first page of this vintage children’s book reads, “This Little Golden Book Belongs To: Jessie Lee.”

Only this vintage copy of Peter Rabbit Proves a Friend, like its friend, a copy of Young Flash The Deer (which, incidentally, does not have a similar inscription by the previous owner) is by Platt & Munk Co.

Poor Platt & Munk, still competing with Little Golden Books for recognition after all these years.

Tamar Stone On Collecting The Perfectly Imperfect

During one of my many conversations with Tamar Stone (on everything from the vintage inspiration for her corset and bed books to her collecting habits), the artist shared this bit on collecting imperfect things:

I like old tools, folk art, things are hand made but not perfect.

I once bought a piece of wood with string wrapped around it — it seemed to perfect as an object — and I knew I could never create that type of thing, but the person who made it did it for practical purposes and I just thought it was great… Of course, my husband just rolled his eyes.

in-flagrante-collecto-caught-in-the-act-of-collectingOh, speaking of that kind of collecting, do you know the book In Flagrante Collecto (Caught in the Act of Collecting), by Marilynn Gelfman Karp?

Put it on your wish list! It’s amazing — beautiful to look at, wonderfully written, and the collections in it are from things like bird nests to old paper ephemera.

Categorizing & Organizing Collectibles: The Quandry Of Ephemera

Photographer Alex Waterhouse-Hayward’s post has me thinking… He writes:

The biggest worry in my mind these days as I toss and turn in bed the waning days of the year has been what to do with 13, four-drawer metal filing cabinets full of my life’s work in the form of negatives, slides, transparencies and prints. I can be objective enough about my own output to know that they are worth money. But to whom and when? Probably when I am dead someone will have a peak and realize what I know now, and that is that I have a diverse treasure of Vancouver’s everyday life since I arrived in 1975.

After some discussion of books on categorization, he gets to the crux of the problem:

This all made me think of my own personal classification which is not really cross-referenced and installed into some sort of computer program. My filing system is alphabetical and depends on my memory alone. If I forget a person’s name I cannot find the file.

This is my problem. Organizing collections can be challenging, but it seems worst with ephemera. At least for me it is. Unlike pottery or glassware, figurines or even books, ephemera is not so readily displayable. At least not in the quantities I have it in.

I don’t even have an alphabetical system; all my vintage magazines, antique photographs, old postcards, etc., are lucky if they are lumped together by those simple categories.

alex-waterhouse-hayward-readsI’m not a bad collector or a lazy collector; I’m an overwhelmed and confused collector.

I’ve pondered, many times, about organizing my ephemera. You’d think vintage magazines at least would be easy: sort and store them by publication title, placed in chronological order. But you see, I don’t look for articles, images, or whatnot by “May, 1958, Cosmopolitan Magazine.” My continuing fascination, inspiration and delight in collecting vintage magazines due to the serendipity of going through each issue, page by page, and making discoveries. It would be nice to be able to, after making such discoveries, organize each issue by some sort of theme… “Advertisements,” “women’s history,” “humor,” etc., so that I could find them again. But any magazine, then as now, has so many themes. How would I know that the magazine I filed under “humorous ads from the 1950s,” would also contain a great feature on “women’s sexuality in the 1950s,” and a dozen other categories?

And this doesn’t even cover such things as antique postcards, vintage photographs, old booklets & receipts… *sigh*

While Alex’s post provides more food for thought, I don’t have any real answers yet. I won’t stop tossing and turning at night — or collecting by day — until I do. So I’d love to hear from other collectors about how you’ve organized and/or categorized your ephemera.

Photo credits: Photo of a young Alex reading from Alexwaterhousehayward.com.

What’s In A Name? (Seeing Straight About Book Collecting)

jennifer-jean-the-cross-eyed-queenAs I said, I don’t sell too much online anymore (I’m too busy blabbing about the stuff I find to list much), but recently I did sell this copy of Jennifer Jean, The Cross-Eyed Queen (by Phyllis Naylor, illustrated by Harold K. Lamson, © 1967; this was the Third Printing, 1970, Lerner Publications Company).

It’s the educational story of little Jennifer, who has pretty green eyes but begins having some troubles with her vision that causes her first to squint, then become cross-eyed…

The other children tease her.

Her parents take her to the eye doctor; first she must wear an eye patch, then glasses.

The other children continue to tease her.

jennifer-jean-rag-doll-eye-patch-illustration

Until everything is set straight all ends well.

When I bought the book and listed it for sale, I told the story of how it reminded me of my cousin Tina’s plight. But this isn’t the story of Tina, or any of my own memories, really. It’s the story of the book’s new owner — or at least what I gather about the purchased vintage book.

Sometimes buyers will tell you why they simply had to have something; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I dare to ask… But in the case of a cross-eyed girl item, it just seemed too impolite. And it probably wasn’t necessary either — for Jennifer Jean was shipped to another Jennifer (middle name unknown).

In my decades of selling old books, one of the most common themes for collecting books I’ve encountered is the namesake connection.

rip-darcy-adventurer-vintage-bookMoms & dads who buy books containing their children’s names in the titles is a-parent-ly quite popular; I’ve sold two copies of Rip Darcy Adventurer, by Jack O’Brien to parents of children named Darcy — not to terrier lovers, as I had anticipated. The first copy went to a new father of a baby girl who was collecting books with her name in the title so that one day, when she was older, he could present her with a grand collection of all books Darcy. The second copy went to a mom desperately trying to keep her young son, Darcy, interested in reading.

Some people collect books for the delight of finding their name in the author’s name. My father snags copies of Edna Ferber works because Ferber isn’t a very common name — and there’s the hometown connection of Milwaukee. (When I was growing up, we’d refer to the author as Auntie Edna, even though she’s no relation. That joke bombs now because very few people remember Edna, even though she was a literal literary Giant in her time.)

So I probably shouldn’t ever have been surprised that people collect books for their names. In fact, it seems to be a far more popular reason for collecting books than first editions. But then again, that’s just anecdotal evidence based on my experiences, and I don’t find many first editions to sell.

Yet I do still wonder if buyer-Jennifer’s middle name is Jean. *wink*