Pop culture and politics intersect in Hake’s sale

By Linda Kunkel – Antique Trader Associate Editor

TIMONIUM, Md. — Pop culture and political items will take center stage on June 27-29 when Hake’s Americana presents Auction No.188. “At every auction we try to offer as many items and as many different categories as possible that fall under the imprint of pop culture,” said Alex Winter, general manager at Hake’s. While heavy on pop culture, this event also blends political and campaign items into the mix, with a few political buttons not seen on the market for years.

The release of a new Superman movie this summer — Superman Returns — most certainly will spark a renewed interest in collecting memorabilia of this action-hero icon that originated in comic books. “There is so much new material that comes out (and) gets a lot of attention, but there are other collectors who then go back and look. It never hurts to have any kind of character brought back in film or TV or otherwise,” said Winter.

One of the most unusual Superman items offered is the boxed, 6-inch-tall gold automobile hood ornament manufactured by the L.W. Lee Co. “It’s one of the most impressive Superman items ever made,” said Winter. “The Superman hood ornament is incredibly rare, and the box is almost unheard of. There are probably only a few known examples of the box.”

Not to be outdone by Superman are three other action figures on Kresge Cards. Batman, Robin and Aquaman were produced by Mego specifically for the famous dime-store chain. Mego was the leader in the action-figure market during the 1970s and set the standard for action figures to come. “Mego Kresge cards are super hot right now among action figure collectors, and we have three of the four top examples available at one time,” said Winter.

Time marches on with the collection of character timepieces, highlighted by items from the Russell Brown Sr. collection. Store displays for Timex and New Haven, along with rare watches for Woody Woodpecker, Popeye and Donald Duck (by Ingersoll) are among the standouts. More than 25 lots in this section represent Disney characters. “Watches — classic Mickeys — have bids already,” said Winter. “Russell Brown Sr. assembled one of the finest character-watch collections we have ever seen, really rare examples in top condition. That’s an area that’s always stayed strong — watches and character have remained quite popular. The last few auctions we’ve had, the top-selling timepieces have been from his collection.”

Disney is also represented in a book titled The Art of Animation, which contains 24 signatures of Disney staff members, in addition to the signature of the man himself, Walt Disney. Boldly signed on the page opposite the title page, Disney’s large signature is impressive on its own. Obtained through a personal friend of the late Disney animator Ward Kimball, this book is one of the most spectacular Disney items Hake’s has ever handled. “His signature alone is highly sought, but this many signatures of Disney people in one book is really incredible,” said Winter.

A diminutive 6 inches tall, a boxed 1930s Mickey Mouse Jazzer doll made by Dean’s Rag Book Co. Ltd., is designed to be mounted on a record player. Complete with a small 3-inch by 3 1/2-inch instructions sheet, the doll has a velveteen stuffed body with felt ears, hands and feet; metal eyes and plastic buttons. “Jazzer is a rare piece on its own,” said Winter, “but incredibly rare with the box and instructions sheet. It’s one of the most unique Mickey dolls. It hooks onto a turntable and kind of dances around as the record plays.”

Andy Levison’s extensive character and personality hand-puppet collection assembled over a 25-year period will be offered, as will items from Walker Edmiston’s Beany and Cecil collection. Items consigned by Sen. Phil Arthurhultz include an impressive Budde Dry Cleaners figure, a Kentucky Fried Chicken Col. Sanders cookie jar and a selection of lunchboxes.

Collectibles associated with Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters also are represented in the sale. During the 1970s, Schulz provided illustrations for celebrity golf tournament program books. The Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Tournament ran throughout the 1970s and ’80s and continues to this day under the name of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Original art for this tournament’s program, featuring Snoopy and Woodstock, will be auctioned.

The pop culture market aside, political and campaign memorabilia is extremely popular, according to Winter. “The earlier the better,” he said. After a dry spell of years, Hake’s will offer some John W. Davis rarities from the grassroots of West Virginia, including a rare 1 1/4-inch “club” button from “Littletown,” which is not listed in the Hake campaign guides. Another highlight is an example of the elusive and colorful 7/8-inch Davis “Victory” button.

“Different categories tend to be hot at one moment and drop off, then come back,” said Winter. “But political has stayed consistent through the years. American history is the angle that most people look at.” He added that the Davis “club” button is one that Hake’s owner Ted Hake is “pretty proud of. We have it estimated at $5,000-$10,000. It could easily top that. It’s an extremely rare piece. It’s the only example we’ve ever seen. Ted started with political buttons 40 years ago and to have seen only one in 40 years is pretty rare.”

For more information on this auction or to bid online, log on to www.hakes.com.



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