Turning back the hands of time with old calendars

COLLECTIBLES cdB

December 29, 1991|By Anita Gold | Anita Gold,Chicago Tribune

Collectors of calendars (as well as anyone else who has a passion for the past) will fall in love with the 1992 American Album calendar of nostalgia and intriguing trivia, which contains 12 reproductions of sepia-colored 6 1/2 -by-9 1/2 -inch charming photos with sharp details.

The photos picture and describe everything from an old general store to colorful carnival Indians featuring Chief Swimming Eel to famous folks including Babe Ruth and Harry Truman. The calendar also contains printed historical information for each day.

The American Album calendar is available for $12 postpaid from Tom Boyle (to whom checks should be made) in care of Yesterday -- Where the Past Meets the Present, 1143 W. Addison St., Chicago, Ill. 60613; phone (312) 248-8087. The shop carries old comic books, old books and magazines, movie material and baseball items as well as the calendar.

Old or antique calendars that are high on the collector's list include advertising examples made to promote various products and businesses.

Then, too, there were advertising calendar plates decorated with pretty flowers, ladies, animals, birds, scenes and portraits. Such plates were given away to customers when they made a purchase. Most date from 1906 to the late 1920s.

Advertising calendars and calendar plates from days of yore are not free anymore and, in fact, can cost a pretty penny. Many examples can be found listed, described and priced in the 1992 10th edition of Schroeder's Antique Price Guide, available in a 604-page, telephone-directory-size edition for $14.95 postpaid from Collector Books. The address is P.O. Box 3009, Paducah, Ky. 42002-3009, or you phone (800) 626-5420 to order the guide, which indentifies and prices more than 50,000 antiques and collectibles.

According to the guide, a calendar plate dating from 1907 picturing a Christmas scene and holly has a value of $75 in unchipped condition. A plate dating from 1924 with a Happy New Year -- Asbury Park (N.J.) decor is worth $35. On the other hand, some cardboard or paper calendars can command as much as three-figure sums depending on their age, condition and what it is they advertise.

Other calendars that command big bucks include certain early Coca-Cola examples such as the 1904 edition picturing Lillian Nordica, an American-born opera star. The calendar measures 15 1/4 by 7 3/4 inches and has a reported value of $2,000. However, if you find a Pepsi-Cola calendar dating from 1944 picturing a lady in a rocker, it would be worth about $60 in the best condition.

Of course, there are numerous other old desirable calendars, ranging from fancy examples made by famous firms such as Tiffany and Cartier, as well as novelty types, miniatures and those that come in frames to match desk sets.

Before tossing out an old calendar, first look at it for its artistic, historical or advertising value. Should it have such merits, put it away for a rainy day.

Speaking of rainy days, if you ever wondered what folks did during cold weather in the good old days, you can find out by reading the amusing book "Alex Stewart -- Portrait of a Pioneer," by John Rice Irwin, in which old-timer Alex Stewart answers these and countless other questions. It's available in a heartwarming and homespun hard-to-put-down edition for $16.95 postpaid from Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1469 Morstein Road, West Chester, Pa. 19380. This book would make a perfect present for anyone who wants to take a trip back into the past, when life was a whole lot simpler and certainly less confusing. The book (which is illustrated with wonderful photos of another time) will make you sit down and think a heap on how to make today's "push-button rat race" lifestyle a whole lot easier in many good, old-fashioned ways.

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