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MARVELOUS MOVIE MEMORABILIA AT AUCTION

I am a sucker for movie collectibles, all sorts. That’s why my wife and I view the arrival of a new auction catalog from Hake’s Americana and Collectibles with mixed emotions: on the one hand, we love seeing what they have to offer. On the other hand, we have to exercise caution. Our house is overstuffed as is. I figure if I point out some of my favorite items then maybe I can help them find a good home and visit them from time to time. The current auction closes this week; please see Hake’s website for more details.

Ted Hake is one of the most knowledgeable dealers in the business, and his specialty is pinback buttons. His interests include sports, advertising, and political history, but he also has a keen eye for movie-related pins like the lot assembled here. The estimate of $100-200 seems fair, especially since it includes a desirable William S. Hart pin from the late teens and a rare promo for the 1931 Mascot serial The Vanishing Legion starring Harry Carey. (I have both of these already, I’m happy to say.)

Illustrated letterheads from the silent-movie era are right up my alley, but I’ve never seen these before, promoting “Adventures Of Tarzan – 15 Electrifying Episodes Starring Elmo Lincoln From Concluding Chapters Of The Return Of Tarzan, By Edgar Rice Burroughs.” Below this text is Masterpiece Film Attractions name/logo and to right is great action scene of Lincoln as Tarzan defending Jane from leopard. Sheets have date span of June 7 to Aug. 16, 1922 and are addressed to Chamberlain Amusement Co. of Shamokin, PA. Content of note includes mention of The Golden Flame, which was released as The Eternal Flame later that year. Letters have been signed by MFA booker Ben Harris in black ink. Horizontal folds as mailed. Some scattered handling wear/aging. Fine overall.” The auction estimate is $200-400 for the lot.

Comic books are a regular part of every Hake’s auction, but even if you’re not a collector it’s easy to appreciate the novelty of this one. It’s issue #2 of John Wayne Adventure Comics from 1950, with a color photo cover and a black & white image of the star in Sands of Iwo Jima on the back. The pages are described as cream to off-white, and the auction estimate is $400-700.

An even pricier item is the debut issue of Our Gang Comics, valued at $5000-10,000. This marked the first appearance of the Our Gang kids as well as MGM’s Tom & Jerry in comic books, with artwork by the great Walt Kelly, who went on to create Pogo. Even though this material has been reproduced in a series of quality paperback books by Fantagraphics Books, there’s nothing like having an original copy of a rarity such as this.

I’m also fond of Big Little Books, those compact volumes that captivated kids of the Depression era. This pair of oversized entries (4.5×5.25”) is extremely rare and are the only two Betty Boop BLB titles ever published. Snow White came out in 1934, and Miss Gulliver’s Travels in 1935. Condition is all-important with these fragile volumes, and the catalog advises that there is “cover edge/corner tip wear and some minor color rubs to covers, but are overall solid Fine/VF copies.” The estimate is $200-400 for the lot.

The first animated cartoon star to be extensively licensed and merchandised was Felix the Cat, and this lot of three one-inch tall pins from the 1920s includes one in solid black enamel on sterling silver. (The other two are silvered brass.) Quoting the catalog, “First, showing Felix with pointing finger, is marked on the back with the entwined initials “CH” plus ‘Sterling Silver.’ The remaining two pieces are each marked on the reverse ‘Pathe Presents Felix The Cat In Eve & Everybody’s Film Review.’ Second has a little silvering off Felix’s face and on the third most of the silvering is off his face. These two are overall VF while the Felix in sterling is NM.” That’s Near Mint for you newcomers to collector’s lingo. Auction estimate is $100-200 for the lot.

Movie posters don’t dominate the catalog, but what’s there is cherce, to quote Spencer Tracy. Original paper from Universal Pictures’ Sherlock Holmes series of the 1940s with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce is highly desirable. There are several examples in this go-round, my favorite being The Woman in Green, estimated between $700-1000.

I wouldn’t mind owning this one, either: an original one-sheet for the 1939 Republic Pictures serial The Lone Ranger Rides Again. Serial posters usually had a stock image in full color and a space for tinted color photos for each individual chapter. As to condition, Hake’s informs us, “Poster has been folded as issued w/some faint aging along fold lines and .25″ splits at fold crease intersections. Top center fold has 2.5″ split, bottom center fold has 4.5″ split. Poster is free of pin holes. Would make Fine/VF display if framed.” Estimate is $400-700.

Moving ahead to the 1950s and 60s, here’s a collection of Jerry Lewis promotional pins. Again, I quote: “2.25″ to 3.5″. First are promotional buttons for two of his famous movies The Delicate Delinquent from 1957 and The Bellboy from 1960. Each of these has name of maker on curl L.A. Stamp & Stat. Co. The remaining four buttons are from his muscular dystrophy charity event with the first one being from “73” plus inscription “Nat’l Cheerleaders’ Rally”. Upper right has speck of acetate missing but otherwise clean. Next is undated but c.1976. Last two are dated for 1978 and 1979. The 1978 button has oxidation on the reverse narrow metal rim but not on the celluloid. With the exception of the dot rub on the 1973 button all five of these are Exc. to Mint.” Estimate is $100 to $200.

Here’s a hard-to-find item for Three Stooges fans: an 8×8½ inch blister card displaying three painted plastic heads on flexible vinyl sleeves, each 3.75” in height. This set was issued at the beginning of the Stooges’ television renaissance in 1959, and copyrighted by Moe’s son-in-law’s Norman Maurer Productions. The card itself has some aging and wear but the puppets are in mint condition. Hake’s adds, significantly, “Rare as carded and first we’ve offered as such in our 51 years.” Estimated to bring $1000-2000.

Looney Tunes producer Leon Schlesinger didn’t have great success with merchandising his characters, so early Warner Bros. cartoon tie-ins like this 8-inch Porky Pig tin wind-up are scarce and highly collectible—especially in its original box from Marx Toys. “Porky has his name along w/Schlesinger copyright and Marx logo on collar. Porky has raised hand w/wire rod that has tin litho umbrella disc that spins when wound w/built in key, causing Porky to wobble about. Toy is evenly aged w/some scattered paint nicks/scratches. Works. Fine overall.” This is predicted to bring $400-700.

Walt Disney items may be found in abundance in every Hake’s auction, and this one is no exception. I’ve selected three of my favorite pieces to show you.

Here is a Mickey Mouse Rosenthal China figurine from 1932, standing 3.25 inches tall. “This is #553 in the series w/incised number under base along w/”Rosenthal” company mark. Expressive pose of him playing his instrument. All Rosenthal figurines are rare, particularly in the U.S. as they were never distributed here. Rosenthals are considered to be the finest Mickey Mouse figurines ever produced. NM.” Estimate: $1000-2000.

This bisque set is one of many items produced in conjunction with Walt Disney’s smash-hit Silly Symphonies cartoon Three Little Pigs (1933). “Largest of three sizes produced, 4-5/8x6x1.75″ deep paper-covered cardboard box w/illustrated lid label contains three bisques, each 4.5″ tall. Made in Japan and distributed by George Borgfeldt Corporation, 1930s. Lid label features nice scene w/the Pigs dancing and playing music in Practical Pig’s brick house as the Big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs at the walls w/’Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf’ title at top and ‘Three Little Pigs’ name at bottom. Box has even aging and lid shows some corner tip wear, but remains tight and Fine/VF. Bisques are Exc./NM as packaged. Rarest of the three sizes.” Estimate $200-400.

Who wouldn’t love to own this Dopey lamp issued in 1938 when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfswas playing in theaters? “7 inches tall solid painted plaster lamp (9.25″ to top of original socket). La Mode Studios Inc. Incised ‘Dopey’ name on front of base w/incised 1938 Walt Disney Enterprises copyright on back of base and original felt covering on underside. Lamp has original power cord and plug, though cord has some fraying to outer cloth wrapping. Lamp works. Scattered paint wear and some dust soiling but VF overall. Comes w/matching 5.75″ tall illustrated lampshade by Doris Lamp Shade Co. Shade depicts Dopey hiccupping bubbles. Shade has even moderate aging and scattered spotting on blank side opposite image. Scattered wear to cloth lined rims. Fine overall. Scarce w/correct matching shade.” $400-700 is the estimate but it wouldn’t surprise me if this brought even more.

And here is a priceless Disney collectible: a Bambi book signed by Walt Disney himself. Because collectors are persnickety, Hake’s description is highly detailed: “9×11.25″ first edition Simon & Schuster, Inc. book, ©1941 Walt Disney Productions. 60 pages w/content featuring bw and full color characters images, illustrations and adapted film scenes. Front endpapers have been signed by Walt Disney in black grease pencil, w/lengthy inscription to Barbara Ann Thompson, who worked in the Civil Service for the US Government. Walt has inscribed “To Barbara Ann Thompson – This Little Number Is Hot Of [sic] The Press – Although Confidentially I Think It’s Not So Hot – But It’s A Book – Walt Disney – 1941.” Disney’s signature measures 6″ wide and remains bold. Comes w/7-1/8×9.5″ studio portrait of Thompson, as well as her 1942 US tax return and printed “The Espionage Act” stat. Photo and documents show some scattered handling wear/aging and just come along. Book comes w/original dust jacket which features matching cover art to book, w/Bambi and his mother on front and Bambi as an adult on back. DJ is unclipped but shows obvious wear w/splits at corner and wear to to/bottom of spine, w/.75×2″ triangular piece off upper left corner of DJ front. DJ is VG overall. Margins of signed page have some lt. aging but page is clean and displays Exc. Rest of book has some general handling wear w/splits to front endpaper along binding, but this does not affect inscription or signature. Moderate creases to spine w/scattered corner tip and cover edge wear. Cover is Fine overall while other inner contents remain clean and Exc. Interesting inscription content, worth noting as Disney seems displeased w/his company’s product. Enhanced by bold Disney signature. Comes with Hake’s COA and COA from Phil Sears, recognized as the premier Walt Disney autograph specialist.” If you’re interested, be prepared to spend $2,000 to $5,000.

While Hake’s has begun selling Star Wars collectibles and other “recent” entertainment-related pieces, I must admit that this Sean Connery James Bond figure hearkens back to my youth and has an appeal almost equal to goodies from the 1930s-50s…even though Thunderball was my least favorite The doll is 12 inches tall; it raises a shoots a cap-firing pistol. “Figure includes Thunderballscuba outfit with black mask, snorkel, fins, blue bathing trunks and shirt. Box shows lt. aging/wear and is glossy and tight. Back has strip of surface paper loss from tape. Displays Exc. Early version figure with larger head (with Sean Connery likeness) is unused and Exc. Comes with original instructions, envelope for gun and adapter. Plastic fins do not have common split on top. Original white shirt is clean as is metal cap gun with hand adapter. Spring action arm works. Contents are complete and display Exc.” This is estimated at $200-400.

All it takes to build your collection is a bundle of money and lots of display space. You don’t even have to scour antique shows any more: Hake’s complete catalog is online at www.hakes.com.

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