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Ask the Experts: 20th century soldier posters serve as decorative record

Dr. Anthony Cavo, a graduate appraiser of the Asheford Institute of Antiques, weighs in on the history and value of two early 20th century service posters.

QCan anyone tell me if these posters are worth anything?

— E.C.
Minneapolis, Minn.

A Your poster, “The Soldier’s Record” by artist A. F. Harlow was copyrighted in 1917 by the H. H. Stratton, Chattanooga, Tenn. It served as a decorative record for veterans and their families to proudly display in their homes. “The Soldier’s Record” in Excellent condition, matted and framed without entries in “The Soldier’s Record” box sells in the range of $150 to $200. Your poster has some condition issues – one being a tear at the base extending up through the center photograph of Commander Edwards, another being the apparent discoloration.


The Woodrow Wilson poster “The Brave Boys of 1918 Will Fight and Die for You” poster sells in the range of $250 to $300 for a poster in Very Good to Excellent condition.

Again, your poster has some condition issues in terms of discoloration and scratches. The photographs you submitted do not show the posters in their entirety, and it is difficult to determine if the poster is actually discolored and colors faded or if this is a result of poor lighting and photography.

If the colors in the photographs are true, and assuming the borders are intact with no tears, folds or paper loss, the value of your posters would be in the $40 to $60 range. If entries had been made on the poster with a serviceman’s name, dates of service and photograph, the value would be somewhat higher.



QThe Ask the Experts column is my favorite article in the magazine, and now I could use the expertise. This picture is done on a man’s white handkerchief, measuring 20 inches by 20 inches. I found it in a box of my father’s military mementos from WWII. It is unsigned, and it may have been done by my father, who served in the South Pacific (1941-1944), or one of the pin-up artists of that time. The colors are vibrant, considering its age. I had it professionally framed about 15 years ago, and at the time the company offered to buy it but didn’t say why they wanted it. Needless to say, I couldn’t part with it. I would really appreciate any thoughts or knowledge you might have about this type of picture.

— L.L. Pewaukee, Wis.

AAmong the many souvenirs sent home by the military serving in the Pacific during World War II were images on silk in the form of handkerchiefs and pillows; these were hand-painted or printed and usually unsigned. One of the more common themes was Japanese women in kimonos, which are readily available from $20 up to $80, depending on size, condition and the presence of a frame.

Your image is interesting in that it is a woman in a kimono next to a palm branch, but the woman has very expressive Western features; she also has a finger in her mouth – something not typically seen. Most of these handkerchiefs are usually no larger than 12-by-12 inches, while yours is quite large at 20-by-20 inches – a size that is more indicative of a scarf.


Images on silk were painted with silk dyes with the outlines of the image first being drawn in wax to prevent the spread or bleeding of the dye from one color into another. The fact that the colors have not penetrated the material tends to suggest a printed rather than hand-painted image; even with enlargement, I am unable to determine if the image is hand-painted or printed.

Because of the size, unusual pose and complementary frame and matting, I would place a value of $120 on your father’s WWII memento.

About our A.I.A. appraiser: Dr. Anthony J. Cavo is an honors graduate of the Asheford Institute Of Antiques and a graduate of Reisch College of Auctioneering. He has extensive experience in the field of buying and selling antiques and collectibles; at age 18, he became one of the youngest purchasers and consigners of antiques and art for a New York auction house. Mr. Cavo is an active dealer in the antiques and collectibles marketplace in the U.S. and abroad.

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