Someone famous once said, “Not all progress is good.” This comes to mind when I recall my boyhood days, when I could not wait until each Sunday morning to read the giant Chicago Tribune “funny papers.”
In those days we didn’t refer to them as comics but rather “the funnies,” because they were really funny. The Katzenjammer Kids, Blondie, Moon Mullins, Henry, Li’l Abner, and on and on. Soon after, adventure crept into our funnies, with characters such as Dick Tracy, Terry and the Pirates, Tarzan … and the list goes on.
During this period, we only had radio and newspapers as media. Hollywood saw the interest and soon produced cartoons to be played between the double features such as Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, and then Looney Tunes’ Porky Pig.
All of this preamble led us to the many premiums being offered by many of the aforesaid. Who could forget “Send in two seals from Ovaltine and get a secret decoder from Little Orphan Annie”? Or ceramic cereal dishes from Quaker Oats? These offers came from radio or the Sunday funnies. The Lone Ranger regularly offered different premiums with their commercial brands.
Youngsters were beholden to limited media and regularly turned on the radio at 4 p.m., after school, to hear their favorite show. We all remember the “outrageous” things such as Dick Tracy’s watch that was a two-way radio or Buck Rogers’ rocket ship travels to the moon. And today these 1930’s outrageous events are happening!
Those premiums offered in the ’30s, such as toys, dishes, watches, bandanas, dolls, rings, etc., are highly collectible. In searching the internet, look for any of these radio or comic premiums and see the prices asked for these items that were formerly “FREE” with box tops or seals collectibles.
Kovels antique price guide founder Terry Kovel states that 65% of today’s population collects “something.” We are constantly amazed at the remote categories that we hear about or are asked to sell or appraise.
An example of funny paper related items recently was shown on the History Channel’s “American Pickers.” They visited a collector who had one room devoted solely to character children’s lunch boxes. When asked, “How much for this one?” the reply was “$1,200”! Why? It was very limited due to its not being licensed, so it had to be withdrawn from the market. Supply and demand dictates values on all collectibles.
We have made great progress in the past 80 to 90 years; however, we have lost the “real” Sunday funnies and the daily wholesome serials. Youngsters today have other diversions, but are missing the joys of those wonderful characters – Dagwood Bumstead, Henry, Daisy Mae, Annie – that we all laughed at because they were funny!
In closing, review our list and add your favorite. Isn’t it fun to reminisce?
Jerry Glenn, former owner of Reminisce gift shop, currently is an appraiser of certain collectibles.