Batman Comic Book Can Net a Socko Price

Times Staff Writer

Question: I have a 40-year-old Batman comic book in good condition. Does it have much collectible value?--V.N.

Answer: Recent dealer catalogues we have seen have had a price range in the neighborhood of $40 to $60. Remember, however, comic book collectors are very particular about condition. Crumpled or stained comic books won’t command top prices.

Q: How deep are glassmaking’s roots in this country?--F.K.

A: The original settlers had a glassmaking operation in Jamestown, Va., in the very early 17th Century. But the English government at the time discouraged many industries because they wanted the settlers to buy finished products, such as bottles, from British producers. Hence, this first glassmaking effort didn’t last but a few years.


A few other American major ventures sprouted up in the early 18th Century around Philadelphia and New Jersey, but they were few and far between. Actually, American bottle manufacturing didn’t really take off until about a century later when major glass operations began springing up from Maryland to New England.

By the mid-19th Century, new bottle factories had been opened in the Midwest. Nostrums produced by quacks in the form of tonics, which had no real medicinal value, provided a lot of business for the bottle companies and are much sought after by today’s collectors. They were produced in a variety of shapes and colors.

Commercial bottling of milk, beer and soft drinks further expanded the collectible market in the early part of this century.

Q: I found an old punchboard in a trunk. Does anyone still make them?--H.A.


A: I’m sure they are being made but I don’t have a source. Punchboards were popular between the 1920s and the 1950s. Then, public demand for these games of chance dropped sharply, and some gambling laws were introduced to prohibit them. Most punchboard companies went out of business.

Essentially, there were two kinds of punchboards: those of double-thickness cardboard with round circles that could be punched out with a finger and the winning or losing information was revealed between the two thicknesses; and those that required a metal key to punch out bits of paper pressed inside the holes in the board. The player would pay for each punch, and prizes were awarded to winning ticket holders.

Many punchboards were colorfully illustrated with a number of themes, such as sports or gambling. And even though they go back a number of years, dealers and collectors say they seldom sell for more than $20.

Collectors caution that punchboards should remain largely unpunched to retain their value.


Q: In a column you did a while back on ice cream collectibles, you mentioned that scoops have been particularly sought after by collectors. What are some price ranges?--M.C.

A: We’ve seen ice cream scoops with wooden handles and nickel-and-brass construction sell for more than $50. In some cases, specially shaped scoops have changed hands for more than $100. Prices have stayed relatively high because of the big demand in recent years for Americana.