Copyright © Harry Rinker, LLC 2019

Questions and Answers

QUESTION: A client brought me an image of the Madonna holding the baby Jesus on canvas and asked me to restore and frame it. The image measures 19.25 inches by 27 inches. The canvas size is approximately 20 inches by 28 inches. The image appears to be printed on the canvas. There is no apparent paint thickness nor brush marks. Over time, parts of the ink have worn off. There also are scrape marks on the surface. The client, who was born in the 1950s, remembers seeing the Madonna and child image hanging on the wall of his parent’s home in Columbia. He removed it from the period stretcher to transport it to the United States. There is no date or signature on the image. There are two handwritten notations on the back – ‘Para Mercedes” (for Mercedes) and a name I cannot read. I have researched the image and cannot find out anything about it. What are your thoughts? – L, Duck, NC, Email Question

ANSWER: Printing can be done on any reasonably flat surface. Canvas, cardboard, paper (glossy or flat surface, plain or textured), textile fabrics (cotton, linen, synthetics, and more), tin, and wood are a few surface examples. Color printing on canvas to create the impression of a painting on a textured surface was well established by the nineteenth century.

After studying the images that you sent, I do not recommend reattaching the canvas to a stretcher. The turned down edges are too fragile. Instead, place the canvas on a piece of acid free mat board and cut an acidic free matt or double matt that will hide the unattractive edges and make the image the central focus.

Any money spent matting and framing the piece will exceed the value of the Madonna and baby Jesus printed canvas. Religious pictures such as this, even if they are over 75 years old, have minimal collector value. The value of the piece is its sentimentality to the owner and not monetary.

As to touching up the printed image on the canvas, the decision is a tricky one. My advice is to frame and matt the piece and then examine it at arm’s length. If the damage does not stand out, leave it alone. Eyes are easily fooled to see what they want to see and not what they actually see. Chances are the eyes will fill in the damaged areas and make the image appear whole. If the damage is noticeable, then do restoration work. The rule is not to do something that cannot be easily removed should the owner wish to take a “more expensive” approach.

When finished, the image will have enhanced value based on the quality of the matting and framing. A realistic secondary market value is between $45.00 and $60.00.

QUESTION: My father-in-law’s brother purchased a ticket to the 1940 Rose Bowl between UCLA and the University of Tennessee. He was a member of the Marine Corps and stationed in California. When the ship left sooner than expect, he was unable to use the ticket. Unfortunately, he was killed in combat on Iwo Jima. My father-in-law ended up with the ticket which he now has given me. Does it have any value? – BB, Grandy, NC, Email Question

ANSWER: The Rose Bowl played on January 1, 1940, was the 26th Rose Bowl game. The USC Trojans (7-0-2) played the University of Tennessee Volunteers (10-0). Tennessee turned down an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl in order to play in the Rose Bowl. The final score was USC 14 and Tennessee 0.

When the Rose Bowl Player of the Game award was created in 1953, a committee was assigned to apply the designation to earlier games. Ambrose “Ramblin’ Amby” Schnidler, the USC quarterback, was named the 1940 Rose Bowl Player of the Game.

There is an active secondary market for tickets and ticket stubs to major sporting events and concerts, especially the legendary rock concerts of the 1960s and 1970s. Ticket stubs are more common than full tickets.

It is surprising how many tickets and stubs survive from sporting events. A “sale date” search on WorthPoint.com suggests between five and ten 1940 Rose Bowl tickets or stubs appear at auction annually. Stubs sell between $18.00 and $25.00. Full tickets are in the $40.00 to $50.00 range.

Grading, especially a high grade, appears to double the price for tickets and stubs. Of course, there is always an unexplained anomaly. On January 20, 2017, an example of a complete 1940 Rose Bowl ticket sold on eBay for $208.50. A check of the listing explained the anomaly. The ticket was sold as part of the estate of Steve Sobal who was associated with NFL films. The value added by provenance is tricky. In this case, it turned out to be a plus.

QUESTION: I own a small brass bell with a round disk attached to the top. The obverse reads: “REMEMBER THE” in an arch over “MAINE” above a line beneath which is “DESIGNED FOR / PAN AMERICAN / EXPOSITION / BUFFALO.” The reverse reads “THE BRASS IN THIS / BELL /WAS RECOVERED FROM / THE WRECK OF THE / MAINE / DESTROYED IN HAVANA HARBOR / FEB. 15, 1898.” What is the value of this souvenir bell? – Morgantown, PA, Appraisal Clinic Find

ANSWER: The Pan-American Exposition was a World’s Fair that was held in Buffalo, New York, from May 1 through November 2, 1901. It is best known as the site where President William McKinley was assassinated.

Collectors have long been familiar with objects made from objects associated with historical events, for example, canes carved from tree limbs found on the Gettysburg Battlefield. I own a cane made from a beam of the first house in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, when it was torn down. Nails and wood block paperweights made from materials salvaged from the “USS Constitution” were sold to raise money to help fund the restoration.

The destruction of the United State battleship “Maine” raised a hue and cry through America. An enterprising entrepreneur obtained the Maine’s bell and melted it down to create souvenirs. Not only were these souvenirs sold at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition but a second version was sold at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. My suspicion is that if all the surviving examples were collected and melted, there probably would be enough brass to make multiple full-size “Maine” bells.

WorthPoint.com has eight 2018 listings for your 1901 “Remember the Maine” bell. The two lowest sell-through prices were $88.00 and $125.89. The two highest sell-through prices were $182.50 and $178.00. The average price is around $150.00, a number that is higher than I first thought.

QUESTION: I have a full set of 12 limited/collector edition Gone with the Wind plates that were marketed for the 50th anniversary of the movie. I have the pamphlet and certificate of authenticity that accompanied each plate. I do not have the boxes. The Scarlett and Her Suitors plate has a very low number. They are in excellent condition with no chips or scratches. I want to get rid of them. What are your recommendations? – DL, Kentwood, MI, Email Question

ANSWER: The secondary market for limited / collector edition plates is depressed, not necessarily the impression one gets checking eBay. Remember, a person can ask whatever they want for what they have. The key is whether it sells for the asking price.

Because the movie is iconic in nature, there is some interest in the Gone with the Wind 50th anniversary plates. If you are going to sell them, sell them as a single lot. Don't allow someone to "cherry pick" the set. Once a plate is missing, the group no longer has set value.

The missing boxes are a concern to the serious collector. The low number on the one plate has no meaning. Makers often used numbers more than once. Low numbers made buyer's feel special. The potential buyer is someone who loves the movie and wants them for display.

If you want to sell the set, I suggest listing them on Craigslist in the fall. eBay is a second option, especially if the listing significantly undercuts the asking price of competing listings. An asking price of $50.00 will sell the set quickly. $75.00 might sell the set given time. $100.00 or more is pushing things, albeit all it takes is one crazy buyer. If selling on Craigslist, another approach is to list the set at "Best Offer Above $75.00."

Given the new IRS tax laws, donation makes no sense unless you itemize. If you do itemize, consider donating the set to a church or local charity sale. You can take a $240.00 tax write-off without any questions being raised by the IRS.

Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Selected letters will be answered in this column.  Harry cannot provide personal answers.  Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned.  Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Point Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512.  You also can e-mail your questions to harrylrinker@aol.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered.

back to top back to columns page