A loss for Barr’s

As I watch “Antiques Roadshow” each week, I like to keep an eye out for any postcards and ephemera that might show up for appraisal. I’ve found it rare to come across postcards, but there’s usually a piece or two of ephemera. On January 25, there were at least two sets of items that fit the bill.

The show was filming at Bonanzaville, in West Fargo, North Dakota and there were several unusual items being valued, including the postcards and ephemera.

First up were some postcards that a gentlemen brought. He explained that he found the postcards in a rental unit that had been abandoned. The four photos were of Jack Johnson; Peter Jackson and Jim Jeffries –all boxers from the early 1900s. Boxing fans will remember that Jack Johnson was the first African American heavyweight boxing champion and was the subject of the 1970 film, “The Great White Hope.” During his career Johnson racked up 114 fights with a total of 80 wins and 45 knockouts. His life wasn’t always easy, especially being an African American who was married to white women, actually three white women.

Two of the postcards featured Johnson – one with a training ball and the other depicting him delivering a punch. The appraiser said these were real photo postcards that were made to be sent through the mail, however, none of the postcards had been used. The postcard of Johnson with the ball hadn’t been seen and was very rare –valued at between $1,000 and $1,500 and the second photo postcard of Johnson was valued at $500. The other two postcards were of Peter Jackson, an African boxer from Australia that was valued at $500; and the final postcard was Jim Jeffries, which was valued at from $300 to $500. Jeffries actually came out of retirement and fought Jack Johnson to prove that a white boxer was better than a Negro – he was handily beaten by Johnson. Johnson died in a car crash in 1946 and is buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery.

The second item is a popular collectible as it’s a Coca-Cola poster from the 1940s. The woman who owns the poster said her mother-in-law had it for at least 70 years. The poster depicted U.S. soldiers enjoying a Coke at a lunch counter with a pretty girl serving them their refreshments.

The appraiser described Coca-Cola collectors as avid –the poster is from 1942 and the appraiser found where it had been used in a publication. As an original advertising art poster, she valued it at $4,000 to $6,000 and suggested that the owner frame the piece, describing it as “historical.”

The Barr’s family is saddened by the loss of one of our contributing writers, Matthew Anish, who passed away in late January in New York. Mr. Anish was very interested in postcards and wrote about some of the interesting places and themes during his tenure with Barr’s. We spoke on the telephone quite often and discussed a variety of topics including older Woody Allen films, which we both enjoyed as well as traveling and other films. Mr. Anish resided in Greenwich Village in New York and taught ESL at a local BMCC.

He was also a poet who had several of his works published in The New York Times and The New Yorker. He sent me a few of his published poems, which I enjoyed reading. We will feature some of his articles in the next few issues as he wrote ahead as many writers do. So it is with heavy hearts, we bid him farewell, and also wish him, as he wrote at the end of each of his articles, “Happy Hunting.”

Have a wonderful couple of weeks attending shows and sales. Check out this issue of Barr’s for additional listings on several upcoming shows. Please notify us with club and convention news; unusual postcard or ephemera collections; and other postcard/ephemera-related matters at editor@barrspcn.com; meego929@aol.com or at (319) 472-4763.