Few periodicals to be found anywhere have a more alluring title than Heritage Magazine for the Intelligent Collector, the last two words calling out in large letters with a brazen compliment along the lines of “Hey, big spender.” (At $7.99 a copy, the magazine is likely to attract more quick-flipping browsers than well-heeled buyers.) Within its 100 pages Heritage promotes upcoming auctions and focuses on gems from recent sales in the categories of numismatics, art, movie posters, history, comics, philately, literature, sports memorabilia, and celebrity collectibles.
Because items Heritage accepts generally open with a bid in five figures and a fair share of their artifacts sell for over $100,000, most people with eight bucks in their pockets who purchase the magazine cannot hope to land one of the prizes being displayed inside its stiff covers. Those citizens of modest means aching to part with cash so as to add to their stash are therefore invited to do a comparison by glancing through the pages of Whereitages Magazine for the Insensate Consumer.
Let others bid $26, 290 for a game-used old jersey Paul Hornung wore at Notre Dame. At Whereitages a very, very worn map of New Jersey once touched by Eli Manning can be had for $74.50.
A dweller among the marble halls of a mansion snatched a 1927D Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle from Heritage for $1.9 million. A golf ball that Jack Nicklaus flung into a water trap in 1972 after a double bogey is a soggy Whereitages steal for $87.95.
A copy of Spider-Man #1 certified 9.4 and encapsulated by CGC was worth $83, 650 to some wealthy collector. For just $119.85 some fortunate soul can display a real spider’s masterwork preserved between two panes of glass taken from E.B. White’s basement which the staff at Whereitages believe may have served as the inspiration for Charlotte’s Web.
Lenny Dykstra’s 1986 World Series ring was worth $56,762, probably to a loyal fan of the New York Mets. But the folks at Whereitages caution “Don’t let this one get by you: for just $179.50 try on a boot charged to Bill Buckner.”
A Rolex watch that traveled to the moon on Apollo 17 landed nicely for $131,450, pricey territory for most collectors. Closer to home at just $229.99 is the tablecloth Jackie Gleason pounded on while playing Ralph Kramden before promising to send Alice on a lunar flight.
A wooden gun which (so relatives of John Dillinger claim) was carved by the bank robber realized $19,120. Less notorious and more affordable is a Whereitages wooden nickel once given as a tip to a cab driver by Jack Benny that can be easily added to anyone’s vault for $39.39.
The style F one-sheet poster for Dracula, of which there are only three known copies, was purchased to reside in some rich person’s den for $370,700. The common man can grab patches of hair, of which there are many in the Whereitages warehouse, from Ray Corrigan’s ape costume used in Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla at $17.50 a clump.
Collectors who wanted to go way into the past anted up $250,950 for a Triceratops skull and $334,600 for the head of a saber tooth tiger. For a more affordable $3,499.95 Wild West fans can corral a bison skull signed “William” and then boast to friends of owning a genuine Buffalo Bill.
The late Forrest Ackerman, dean of collectors of horror memorabilia, might have envied the person who acquired the black outfit Boris Karloff wore in The Black Cat for $89, 625. Not to be left out of the hunt for all things Universal left over from the 1930s, Whereitages will assume all shipping costs when it sends unlimited numbers of the title prop from Karloff’s 1936 classic The Invisible Ray at the rate of $19.95 per ray.
A first edition of The Astronauts, signed by all members aboard Mercury 7, brought a bid of $5,078. Paperback copies of The Carpetbaggers, signed by Scott Carpenter’s barber, who owned seven Mercurys, are available at $59.99 each.
One of Dat-So-La-Lee’s intricate Indian baskets bearing the title “Let’s forget. Bury our troubles in this basket” did not find a buyer, perhaps because the opening bid was too high. Such is not the case with modern artisan Dough-So-For-Me whose clay pots are signed in Chinese characters which, when translated, mean “Bury your money in Zhejiang Province at $150.00 a throw.”
Ken Norton’s heavyweight boxing title belt carried an estimated value of $60,000+ into the auction ring in 2010. The flexibelt of competitive eating champion Irving Ledbelly wore on the day he ingested 71 hot dogs is priced at $87.50. (Specks of ketchup stains and traces of bicarbonate found on the buckle and leather add to the authenticity of the belt.)
The price range for the famous Ben Franklin “Join or Die” snake cartoon from 1754 was $100,000-$200,000 in 2011. For just $102.85 a handful of lucky folks can have brass knuckles wielded by Marty Krackinbone when he echoed Franklin’s words while selling protection in Chicago during the 1950s.
A David Crockett signature on a letter written while he served in Congress brought a winning bid of $28,680 in 2012. A more impressive souvenir at a very reasonable price of $475.95 is an authentic Davy Crockett coonskin cap. (Whereitages has not been able to determine if Crockett wrote the message “Don’t Mess with Fess” in the lining of the cap.)
A silver denarius struck by Brutus certainly is worth $546, 250. But for only $187.65 anyone can bag a Franklin 1958 half dollar flung by Stephen Boyd at Charlton Heston during the frenetic chariot race in Ben-Hur. (Because of the many retakes required, stock of authentic coins is plentiful. Ask a Whereitages representative for special pricing on rolls of 50 coins.)
A well-heeled collector paid $537,750 for Black Betsy, the slab of hickory “Shoeless Joe” Jackson used throughout his baseball career. For just $245.99 pedagogue fanciers can own the Black and Blue Buster, the fabled hickory stick wielded for 37 years by switch-hitting grammar teacher Shirley “Sock ‘Em” Sternwheeler.
A presentation copy of Three Stories & Ten Poems, Ernest Hemingway’s first book, was sold by Heritage for $68,500. Only one fortunate person with $999.99 will be able to take home the manuscript of one Billy Faulkner dated 1904 and found in a hayloft near Oxford, Mississippi. Called Two Mules & a Jackdaw, the nine- page story scribbled in pencil on lined paper, is bound in genuine squirrel skin.
A 1962 cancelled check made out simply to “Pilgrim” bearing Marilyn Monroe’s signature sold for $15,000. How about a check signed by John Wayne with his pet name on the payee line? Whereitages has a supply of checks payable to “Hay Pilgrim Grain & Feed” signed by a real John Wayne (not a Marion Morrison in Hollywood makeup) of Keokuk, Iowa for just $33.50 each. Ask for closeout discounts on checks signed by Norma J. Mortenson which are made out to the Bus Stop Cafe and drawn on a Niagara (Wisconsin) bank.
A 1949 Bigsby solid-body guitar hit a high note of $266,500 with Heritage. At Whereitages a 1970s no body guitar swept up from a concert by the Who, Them, or Those can be had for a mere $478.95.
A Wall Street executive shelled out $825,000 in 2007 for an Inverted Jenny postage stamp. For those consumers over the age of 18, Whereitages offers a number of French postcards supplied by Perverted Penny at the reasonable rate of $99.50 per dozen. Police officers posing as juveniles need not respond; adults acting like juveniles are always welcome.
Auction results continue to prove the maxim that there will always be people willing to pay just about anything for just about anything. The question marketers of the past should now be asking is not “How high will they bid?” but rather “How low will we go?”