By Phil Mooney
Director, Archives Department
For over five hours on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2003, people lined up with their potential treasures at the Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort near San Diego, CA, hoping for some good news at the
Among those who came to the event were local members of the
At events such as this, bottles are the most common item people bring to be appraised, and this California event was no exception. I saw many embossed contour bottles from various time periods. Because the bottles were mass produced, and because they are so sturdy, many remain in circulation today. Even the earliest embossed contour bottles do not hold much value, with most worth about $5 or $10.
Many people have commemorative bottles -- those created to commemorate a special occasion or sports team -- in their collections. I saw a number of commemorative bottles in California, including a recent bottle with the
Another common item is lapel pins, usually created for the Olympic Games or another sporting event. I saw pins from the 1984 Los Angeles Games, pins for the San Diego Padres and several Disney pin sets. Pins often peak in value during the time of the sporting event, when the passion for pin trading is at its highest. Most of the pins I saw were only worth $1 or $2 each. I also saw a number of current collectible items -- those sold by licensees who produce
Although not as common as lapel pins, people also brought light-up signs, 1950s picnic coolers and even vending machines. Fortunately, most of those with venders only brought photos to the resort, except for one person who had this machine in his truck and led me to the parking lot to see it live!
I saw a number of unusual and valuable items in California. One man brought a syrup keg from 1910, worth several thousand dollars. This rare keg, still containing the syrup and the original cork, had a full label on it; the paper labels usually are incomplete or damaged on these kegs. I also saw a 1940s sterling silver set of
An unusual part of the history of
Amid the rare collectibles I saw were some fake and reproduction items. The fake items -- often called "fantasy" items -- were never authorized by
Reproduction items also can confuse buyers. In particular, a series of reproduction trays introduced in the 1970s, but featuring images from the early 1900s, still lead people to think they have a very valuable piece, when in fact they have a nice tray worth approximately $10. I saw some of these trays in California, and hated to break the news to those who thought they had a thousand-dollar item!
Because of the long history of
However, having items passed down is how many of the
As with all collectibles, prices vary depending on the market, and depend on what someone is willing to pay for an item. The values I give are my own personal judgment based on recent selling prices, price guides and my experience, but prices could be less or more in an actual sale or auction.
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