Kovels: Antiques and collecting – ‘Kilroy was here’

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It took only a little over $160 to buy this “Kilroy was here” bank. The 5-inch-high plaster bank was painted red. The bottom had the words “To open, cut hole in bottom.” It is a very rare souvenir of the Second World War.

Remember hearing “Kilroy was here”? Kilroy is a famous “doodle” seen during World War II. No one is sure exactly where it began, but in about 1939, the comic man looking over a fence while poking his nose and hands over it with the words “Kilroy was here” started to appear. The doodles were found in strange places where soldiers were stationed. The character may have been inspired by an earlier bit of graffiti used by Australians during World War I with the words “Foo was here.”

He reappeared in the next war from 1941 to 1945. Kilroy graffiti was found in barracks, inside submarines, and, it is claimed, on the beaches at Normandy when the troops landed for the famous battle.

“Kilroy was here,” with or without the doodle, still is part of American slang and has appeared in TV shows, movies and even songs in this century. The face over the fence has been made into inexpensive three-dimensional, carnival chalkware figures and even banks. A red plaster bank was one of several Kilroy pop-art items featured in a Hakes auction in 2016. It sold for $168.37, probably to someone who remembers seeing a Kilroy message years ago.

Q: I have several old one-cent prepaid postcards that are unused. The “stamp” on the postcard is green and pictures Thomas Jefferson. Do these postcards have any value?

A: The postcards still can be used if you add enough stamps to equal the current postcard rate, which is 34 cents. However, they are worth more than face value to a collector. One-cent postcards were made from 1916 to 1952, except for two years during World War I when the rate was raised to two cents and for the years 1925 to 1928. The one-cent postcard was made on different cardstocks. Some are more valuable than others, and there are other differences that affect prices, which range from about 25 cents to several thousand dollars. Most sell for under $1.

Some of the rarest and most valuable postcards were printed on gray, rough-surfaced stock during a paper shortage in 1916. They were sold to printers for commercial use and weren’t available at the post office. Rough-surfaced postcards sold recently for over $1,700 to $2,400. The die was recut because the stamp didn’t make a good impression on the rough surface. Postcards stamped with Die II have sold for $18,500. A stamp dealer might be able to tell you what your postcards are worth.

TIP: Antique-cut diamonds (old mine-cut) are being made today. They are very similar to old diamonds, but if used as replacements in old jewelry, the new ones will be brighter.

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(c) 2018 King Features Synd. Inc.


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