Question: I collect calendars. Not all of them, however, have all of their pages. Does this harm value?--C.O.
Answer: The value of a calendar, no matter how many years old, sharply diminishes if some of the months are missing, according to dealers and collectors. Condition also is an important consideration.
Among the reasons calendars are a popular collectible is the fact that they have been used as advertising giveaways and, therefore, attract a great deal of interest as a vehicle that can give some social insight into a particular era. Their value is generally pegged to the year of publication. For example, pre-1900 calendars have sold for more than $100, according to recent sale catalogues we’ve checked.
Q: What price range should I use to collect advertising trade cards?--D.P.
A: Most of the trade cards we’ve seen at flea markets and dealer shows haven’t had price tags much higher than $10. But there are exceptions, and some cards in good condition and dating back to the late 19th Century have sold in the $50-to-$100 range. Price is a product of subject matter and scarcity when you’re buying and selling these popular cards.
Generally, advertising cards were made of thin cardboard and carried a colorful picture and message of a company’s product. They seem to have been printed in the greatest quantities during the 1880s and 1890s.
After 1900, when magazines were becoming popular in the home, the cards all but disappeared, and their collectible value began to increase in proportion to their scarcity.
Collectors should not only examine the front of these cards but the back side too, because there often were messages about the product on the back plus hints as to when the card was printed.
A wide range of products was displayed on these cards--ranging from medicinal items to clothing and household goods. Many collectors look for complete sets of advertising cards produced by a company or a set of cards depicting a particular line of products.
Q: When did the name “Cracker Jack” first come into use? I have a fairly large collection of Cracker Jack toys and wondered how far back the product can be dated.--B.B.
A: A Chicago popcorn-store owner, F. W. Rueckheim, first introduced his concoction of popcorn, peanuts and molasses at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Then, three years later, he applied the “Cracker Jack” name to his product.
It wasn’t until 1912, however, when he began putting prizes into Cracker Jack boxes.
Early prizes were made of an assortment of materials, including paper, wood, lead, tin and even porcelain. Plastic wasn’t introduced until 1948. Collectors naturally concentrate on the “pre-plastic” Cracker Jack era in terms of collecting these miniature gems.
Price tags range all over the place. One catalogue showed $15 for a Cracker Jack item that was a facsimile of a 1919 page of the Saturday Evening Post. A Charlie Chaplin fighting a policeman changed hands for $75.
Since more than 10,000 Cracker Jack toys have been catalogued over the years, the new collector will have to spend some time getting acquainted with these collectibles before deciding to take the plunge.
Collectors of rock ‘n’ roll records will be interested in an all-day seminar on the subject Oct. 19 at Cal State Long Beach/Extension Division. Why certain records are valuable and how to spot counterfeit records will be among the topics discussed. For further information, call Steve Propes at (213) 498-5566.
Ronald L. Soble cannot answer mail personally but will respond in this column to questions of general interest about collectibles. Do not telephone. Write to Your Collectibles, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.