by Dr. Lori Verderame
Knowledge of the time period
When considering the issues of collectibles and value, remember that no matter the time period, collectibles that have staying power are those which reflect the time period in which they were made. American collectibles of the 1950s and 1960s demonstrate aspects of society that are common only to that period.
Many toys of the period demonstrate the use of mass production methods in the America’s consumer society. In the 1960s, we see the rise of the mechanized work environment and America’s desire for the mass production of items. This is seen in the art of the period as Andy Warhol makes a splash with the repetitious and famous serigraphs of the Campbell Soup can.
Everything from plastic toys to car parts are brought to the consumer via the factory production line. This toy shows that mass production is the wave of the 1960s as American consumerism is on the rise. Children too are just younger consumers.
Fisher Price’s Little Snoopy circa 1969 is made of wood, with a printed paper (commercial lithography print) face and body, and plastic wheels — all of which show the relationship of the toy to what is happening in the society in which he was made.
In post-war America, Lucy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy Popular characters of a particular time period are good examples of what is marketable to certain collectors. Baby boomers are well acquainted with Hopalong Cassidy or Roy Rogers while Gen Xers are more in keeping with Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer. Characters—from TV, cartoon, literature, movies–from particular times make for interesting collectible objects. Also, they speak to the art historical elements of a particular part of history.
These objects provided a war-weary society to enjoy and even find luxury in a bit of comic strip laughter. Charles Schultz’s character of Lucy is shown here in wristwatch circa 1952 form which follows the popularity of the Mickey Mouse wristwatch craze. The graphic design of the numbers on the face of the watch tells much about the time period of the item and the condition and popularity of Lucy which makes this watch a desired 1950s collectible. Of course, a set of these watches from the same year featuring the whole Peanuts Gang would increase the value of each watch.
It is important for collectors to place objects within their historical context. Ask yourself: Why does this object from that time period look the way it does? The post World War II period saw an interest in biomorphic and organic forms like those found in nature and the human figure. These vessels made by the Glidden pottery company of Alfred, NY based on designs by Glidden Parker, circa 1947-58 are highly desirable today. These two pieces are reminiscent of the issues of the day: the atomic molecule, the rebirth and renewal associated with the seed or pod form as we rebuild and re-birth (the baby boom) following World War II, and the interest in the planets of the universe and their round forms. The idea of such natural forms comes into the decorative arts or those objects that we use to decorate our homes as they do in the fine arts such as paintings and sculptures.
Some of our most beloved heroes from the battlefield to the baseball field have provided us with some of the world’s most treasured collectible objects. For instance, baseball cards are wonderful remembrances. While you have to be wary of the sports memorabilia market because it is notorious for being faked, forged, and very pricey, many collectors are born over the discussion of a baseball card trade. Condition is the most important thing when it comes to baseball cards or any sports collectibles. Although the baseball card once was cheap, it has increased in value to a good extent. Gaining information about your collections is key. For instance, knowing what year New York Yankee great Mickey Mantle hit his first home run or won a batting title or retired, helps the collector in his search for the most valuable or most interesting cards. This baseball card is from circa 1969. Information is vital to the history of art, collectibles, and antiques.
Request an online appraisal of your baseball collectible from Dr. Lori.