Question: I have a number of magazine covers, including several by Norman Rockwell, and wondered how they can be evaluated.--F.K.
Answer: Collectors and dealers say a cover, at a minimum, should show the artist's signature. Additionally, be careful with magazine mailing labels. If you try to remove them, you could tear the cover, thereby diminishing its value. And naturally, the cover should be in good condition if you have any resale intentions.
Collectors add that they like to see covers mounted on mats; and they warn not to display covers in direct sunlight as they could become faded.
Rockwell was a major cover artist, particularly from 1940 to 1960, and his artistry was widely disseminated by the Saturday Evening Post. That being the case, thousands of collectors have retained and mounted his covers for display and resale purposes. We're told that such Rockwell magazine covers sell for not much more than about $20 each and that anything he painted after 1960 would sell for a little less.
Q: Into what collectible category would ink blotters fall?--B.A.
A: By and large, blotters appear to be collected more for their old advertising messages and artwork than anything else. Most popular were blotters produced between 1900 and World War II.
Generally, the older the blotter, the more valuable if it's in reasonably good condition. Colorful blotters have exchanged hands for more than $70, and there appears to be an abundance of collectors.
End-of-the-year tip to collectors: Protect yourself against burglaries by making careful inventories of your collection, including photographs. Also, for insurance reasons try to retain sales receipts. Thieves also keep track of rising prices in certain areas of collectibles, making your collection tempting to a burglar.
How daring are thieves these days? New York-based Americana magazine reports that scoundrels have even "used helicopters to steal weather vanes from rooftops."
A recent piece in the New York Times underscored that collectors of 1960s furniture have been quietly making an impact in the furniture market. Most of the collectors are young (under 40) and are buying while prices are still relatively low, the article said.
"While furniture of the 1960s is not cheap, it currently costs less than the status pieces from the 1950s," it said. "Sharp-eyed collectors report that '60s furniture is beginning to show up in flea markets, stores specializing in 20th-Century objects and at a few auction galleries here and in Europe."
Christmas mailbag for the collector who has everything: A slick catalogue from Stave Puzzles (Norwich, Vt. 05055) displaying their latest series of custom-made wood jigsaw puzzles. They look beautiful, and they're challenging--but they're also expensive, ranging in price from $95 for a 65-piece "starter" puzzle (Claude Monet's "The River") to $1,590 for an 800-piece "Winter Fantasy" scene.
The firm also has a monthly newsletter for collectors who have purchased at least one of their puzzles.