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Gone with the Wind dress fetches $137K at auction

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Written by AFP Wire Service   
Monday, 20 April 2015 09:04

Embroidered dress worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in the 1939 now-classic film 'Gone with the Wind.' Auctioned on April 18, 2015 for $137,000 at Heritage Auctions' Beverly Hills gallery. Image courtesy of Heritage

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The gray and black dress worn by Vivien Leigh when she played Scarlett O'Hara in the 1939 movie classic "Gone with the Wind" has been sold at auction for $137,000.

According to Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills, California, the embroidered dress went for more than double its starting price of $60,000 on Saturday.

"Gone with the Wind" is a 1936 Civil War-era epic novel by Margaret Mitchell that was then made into the multiple Academy Awards winning movie.

O'Hara's dress was part of an extensive collection of memorabilia from the film gathered by James Tumblin, a former makeup artist from Universal studios.

In all, about 150 items were up for auction.

The straw hat with green ribbons worn by O'Hara on the day of a picnic at the start of the film fetched $52,500 and one of her blouses went for $32,500.

Among the other items on sale were a gray suit worn by the character Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable, which fetched $55,000.

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Last Updated on Monday, 20 April 2015 09:22

Huge collection of Swatch watches up for auction in Hong Kong

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Written by LAURA MANNERING for AFP   
Monday, 06 April 2015 11:04
James Bond 007 Villain Collection by Swatch. Image courtesy of Sotheby's

HONG KONG (AFP) - One of the biggest private collections of Swatch watches in the world will go under the hammer in Hong Kong this week and is expected to fetch more than US$1.3 million.

Credited with breathing new life into the ailing Swiss watch industry after its launch in 1983, Swatch quickly became a cultural phenomenon with its multi-colored plastic designs and largely affordable price tags.

The massive collection of more than 5,800 Swatch watches -- including limited editions by artists including Kiki Picasso and Keith Haring, as well as a James Bond 40th anniversary collection -- will be sold as a "superlot" at Sotheby's on Tuesday.

It is the pride and joy of Luxembourg-based Paul Dunkel, 68, who has spent more than two decades tracking down almost all the watches Swatch created in its first 25 years.

And it is clearly a wrench for the retired insurance broker to say goodbye to the collection.

"For me, it's not possible to continue (collecting). It's so much work. The young people must continue," he told AFP.

"The collection was just in a safe and no-one could see it, what is the point of that?" he said, adding that he hopes the buyer will put it on show to the public.

Dunkel's obsession started in the 1980s. Already a collector of abstract art, he realized that some of his favorite artists were designing for Swatch, so he began collecting the watches and related artwork.

"It began with a few watches, then it was a passion," he said.

Dunkel has traveled far and wide to seek out pieces and has paid thousands of euros for some.

But his favorite is a simple 1994 design covered in white sheep, with one black one tucked away on the strap. He has a tie to match.

"Swatch is universal," says Dunkel. "You can have one for every day of the week. I often wear one."

Dunkel adds that the best reward for his years of hard work has been the reaction to the collection that has gone on display ahead of the auction.

"I'm not interested in the price. The past two months have been so satisfying, seeing the collection go around the world. I didn't expect so much interest in it."

Sotheby's head of watches, Sharon Chan, says that "serious luxury watch collectors" are also fans of Swatch.  "Each watch in this collection translates into a chapter of contemporary art," Chan added.

Hong Kong has a precedent for successful Swatch sales -- in 2011 another large collection sold for more than US$6 million to an anonymous Chinese collector at auction in the city.

After Tuesday, a philosophical Dunkel said his focus would switch back to family life.

"I'm a grandfather and my hobby is the two kids now," he said.    Asked whether he will be sad to see his collection go, he shrugged, saying: "That's life."

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Richard Mille RM027RN Swatch. Image courtesy of Sotheby's Patek Philippe Swatch. Image courtesy of Sotheby's
Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2015 13:33

Tunisians assure movie fans Star Wars sets protected

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Written by BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA and PAUL SCHEMM, Associated Press   
Friday, 27 March 2015 14:07
'Star Wars' filming location Mos Espa near Tozeur, Tunisia. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – It was a flood of messages from concerned friends abroad that alerted the president of Tunisia's Star Wars fan club that the sets of his beloved film were under attack by militants – at least according to exaggerated reports in the foreign press.

In a country still reeling from a terrorist attack last week on a museum that killed 21 people, a misleading report from CNN that said the iconic sets were a “way station” for the radical Islamic State group infiltrating from Libya soon went viral. The report suggested that the sets were vulnerable after recent arrests and discoveries of weapons caches near the town of Tatouine, which lent its name to Luke Skywalker's home planet.

Tunisian officials on Thursday made clear there was nothing to worry about.

“This information is false and without foundation and doesn't reflect the reality,” said Mohammed Sayem, a member of the tourism commission in the western city of Tozeur.

Col. Mokhtar Hammami of the National Guard told The Associated Press he has 1,500 men, including special forces, canine units and bomb control experts under his command patrolling the area.

“I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that all is normal, in fact we've seen a big influx of foreign tourists and Tunisians” in the area, he said.

The story was picked up widely and was trending on Twitter – even though the main Star Wars sets are hundreds of miles west of Tatouine, on the other side of the country near Tozeur.

“The information is totally crazy, every outlet added a bit more,” said Star Wars fan Abderrahman Amer.

“We were obliged to reassure our friends and fans abroad that it's fine, everything is OK, the sites are protected – there was even a festival of electronic music there a few weeks ago,” said Amer. “There is a world of difference between an Islamic State base and a music festival.”

Concerns over security have heightened after last week's attack at the national museum that killed 21 people, including many foreigners.


Schemm reported from Rabat, Morocco.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-26-15 1502GMT




Last Updated on Friday, 27 March 2015 14:24

Prototype US penny auctioned for 117.5 million pennies, or $1.175M

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Written by AFP Wire Service   
Friday, 27 March 2015 09:15
1792 Birch Penny, one of seven known to exist, auctioned by Stack's Bowers Galleries for $1.175 million. Image courtesy of Stack's Bowers BALTIMORE (AFP) - A rare prototype of the first American penny, dating from 1792, has just changed hands for 117.5 million pennies at an auction in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Birch Penny -- one of only seven known to exist -- was among the highlights of a two-day sale of rare US coins, medals and paper money.

Stack's Bowers Galleries of Irvine, California, which organized the auction, said it went for $1.175 million, including buyer's premium, late Thursday.

The buyer was not identified, but the coin -- engraved the year Congress created the US Mint, and nine years after the American Revolutionary War -- was the second Birth Penny to be sold this year.

The first was snapped up by a Beverly Hills rare coin dealer in January for $2.585 million at an auction in Florida. It had previously sold in 1981 for $200,000.

Named for engraver Robert Birch, the penny sold Thursday depicts Lady Liberty encircled by the words "Liberty parent of science and industry."

The flip side reads "United States of America," "one cent," and the fraction 1/100.

"The Birch cent is, simply, the first of a cultural phenomenon that is known the world over -- it is the first American cent," said Stack's Bowers in its auction catalog.

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Last Updated on Friday, 27 March 2015 12:12

Action Comics #1 sells for a 'super' $658K in online auction

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Written by Outside Media Source   
Thursday, 26 March 2015 09:47
A CGC-certified 5.0 copy of Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, sold for $658,000 at New York-based online comic book auction house on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Image courtesy of

NEW YORK - A CGC-certified 5.0 copy of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, sold for $658,000 at New York-based online comic book auction house on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. There were 73 bids on the offering.

The consignor had purchased the copy in 2010 for $436,000.

The company ascribed at least some of the increase in price realized to their highly publicized 2014 online purchase of the CGC 9.0 white-pages copy of Action Comics #1 from Pristine Comics.

“Our purchase of the $3.2 million Action Comics #1 CGC 9.0 was a four-color tsunami in the vintage comic book industry,” said Rob Reynolds, the company’s Director of Consignments.

He said they believe that their record purchase affected not just copies of Action Comics #1, but also the market for other early Action Comics issues and even other titles as well.

“Our expectations were truly blown away with the $658,000 hammer price,” Reynolds said. “And the consignor was thrilled with the return on his investment after his 2010 purchase at $436,000. Also, this is actually the ‘Superman Saves the Day’ book that generated headlines around the world when the initial sale saved a family from foreclosure during some of the worst of the recession.”

Additional sales in the auction thus far include Action Comics #2 CGC 9.4 C $92,111, Action Comics #13 CGC 8.0 $102,001, Archie Comics #1 CGC 6.5 $61,000, Batman #1 CBCS 3.0 $41,166, Avengers #1 CGC 8.5 Signature Series $21,500, Amazing Fantasy #15 CGC 6.0 $27,000, and Captain America Comics #1 CBCS 4.5 R $22,200.

The auction concludes Friday night, March 27, 2015 with Session Five.

Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 888-779-7377 for additional information. Visit them online at .

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Special thanks to our friends at Scoop (Gemstone Publishing) for sharing this copyrighted article with us. Visit them online at .


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 March 2015 10:37

Maker of Louisville Slugger bats selling brand to Wilson

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Written by BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 10:33
Louisville Slugger store bat rack, 1939. Image courtesy archive and Morphy Auctions LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Over a century of family ownership of Louisville Slugger bats is going ... going ... nearly gone.

The company that makes the iconic bats gripped by generations of ballplayers – from Babe Ruth to David Wright – announced a deal Monday to sell its Louisville Slugger brand to rival Wilson Sporting Goods Co. for $70 million.

For 131 years, the family behind Hillerich & Bradsby Co. has supplied bats for games from the sandlots to the big leagues.

H&B CEO John A. Hillerich IV said keeping the bat business in family hands had been a dinnertime topic for years. But as the competition's lineup grew in recent years, the family became willing to listen to offers to acquire the brand.

“It's always been the family's desire to keep the brand independent and family owned,” Hillerich told reporters. “It's worked extremely well for 131 years.

“But we've seen things change and we had to make a very tough decision. We'd rather the brand go on and have somebody else own it than potentially put it in jeopardy by keeping it in the family.”

Hillerich is the great-grandson of John A. “Bud” Hillerich, who churned out the first Louisville Slugger bat in 1884 for a renowned baseball player in his day, Pete Browning.

Under terms of the agreement, H&B will continue to manufacture Louisville Slugger wood bats at its factory in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

“The guys down on the floor today are going to be the guys making the bats tomorrow and a year from now and a decade from now,” Hillerich said.

But sale of the brand will cost 52 H&B workers their jobs, out of a total workforce numbering about 270, Hillerich said. The remaining employees will work either for H&B or Wilson.

Louisville Slugger will remain an independent brand once the deal is completed, said Mike Dowse, president of Wilson Sporting Goods. That means the Louisville Slugger bats will still carry the brand's recognizable oval logo.

Wilson's deal to acquire the global brand, sales and innovation rights of Louisville Slugger still requires approval by H&B shareholders.

Wilson Sporting Goods is a division of Finnish sports equipment maker Amer Sports Corp. The Helsinki-based company said it expects the deal to be completed in the second quarter.

Former players who now manage major league clubs sounded nostalgic about the age-old brand on Monday.

“I still remember my first Louisville Slugger bat as a kid,” Hall of Fame player and current Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “All I knew was that Harmon Killebrew used one, and that was good enough for me. Part of the excitement of signing your first pro contract was getting a bat deal with Louisville Slugger.”

Former All-Star player Matt Williams, who now manages the Washington Nationals, said Louisville Slugger bats were popular among players of his generation.

“There's so many bats today to choose from that I, for one, would go crazy trying to choose a bat or a company,” he said. “I was a Louisville guy. Used them for a long time.”

About half of all current major league players swing Louisville Slugger bats, according to H&B. The company said it has churned out more than 100 million bats in its history, including aluminum and composite bats.

The sale includes the brand's aluminum and composite bats, as well as Louisville Slugger lines of fielding and batting gloves, protective gear and equipment bags.

Louisville Slugger's wood bats are formed mostly out of northern white ash or maple, but a small percentage is made out of birch. The timber comes from forests in New York and Pennsylvania.

H&B will maintain ownership and continue to operate the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and Gift Shop, a popular tourist destination. Towering outside the museum and factory is a 120-foot-tall steel bat that looms as a landmark in downtown Louisville.

H&B's Bionic Gloves division and Powerbilt golf brand are not part of the deal, it said.

Dowse said expanding Wilson's baseball and softball business globally is a key part of its business strategy.

Wilson sees strong growth potential for Louisville Slugger, he said. He noted sales for DeMarini bats have quadrupled since Wilson acquired the brand about 15 years ago.

“We see that same strategy and formula working extremely well for us at the Louisville brand,” he said.

Wilson currently manufactures and sells gloves, bats, uniforms, apparel, protective gear, accessories and player development equipment and training tools through its Wilson, DeMarini and ATEC brands. Like its DeMarini brand, Wilson will market and sell Louisville Slugger as a stand-alone brand.


AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker, AP freelance writer Carl Kotala and AP Writer Matti Huuhtanen contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-23-15 2151GMT





Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 10:44

Mark Hamill, a k a Luke Skywalker, promotes Free Comic Book Day

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Written by Outside Media Source   
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 11:43

Mark Hamill in a photo taken in Hollywood, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2010. Copyrighted photo by Glenn Francis, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

HUNT VALLEY, Md. – World-famous actor and longtime comic book fan Mark Hamill is encouraging fans to celebrate Free Comic Book Day on May 2nd.

Known for his role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Mark has also been a part of the comic-book culture since playing the voice of The Joker in various Batman animated TV shows, movies and video games. He is also making a return as the Trickster in new episodes of The Flash.

Hamill is encouraging fans to head to their local participating comic shop on the first Saturday in May to get free comic books. Here are the details:

• Over 2,300 comic shops are participating across the country and around the world

• Over 5.6 million comics will be given out for free

• There are 50 free titles available to choose from

• Comic shops also host special events for communities to take part in

• FCBD is a great opportunity for those who have never read a comic before to check them out for free

• FCBD is a family-friendly event as there are comics for readers of all ages available for free

• You can see the 50 free comics and find participating comic shop

To locate a participating comic shop, go to

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Mark Hamill in a photo taken in Hollywood, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2010. Copyrighted photo by Glenn Francis, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 12:19

What made Americans laugh 80 years ago? The answer is Krazy!

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Written by Outside Media Source   
Friday, 13 March 2015 09:45
Intro panel from original art for Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip appearing Nov. 3, 1935. Art by George Herriman. Image courtesy of Hake's Americana & Collectibles YORK, Pa. – We’ve all heard of that lovable cartoon feline named Felix, but unless you’re a collector of early comic strip art, you may not know about another popular cat who preceded Felix in the funny papers. His name was Krazy Kat, and he first appeared in print back in 1913.

Hake’s Americana & Collectibles is selling a few pieces of historically important animation art in their online and absentee auction closing March 17-19. Among them is the original art for a Krazy Kat Sunday page from Nov. 3, 1935, featuring the strip’s main characters and a now-classic brick-throwing scene.

The art consists of 11 panels created by cartoonist George Herriman (1880-1944). It measures 17 by 24½ inches (India ink image 14 3/8 by 22¼-inch India ink image).

The piece opens with a hand-drawn Krazy Kat title logo in the first panel, then Offissa Pupp is in all of the following ten panels scolding Ignatz Mouse for his bad behavior. The second and third panels depict Ignatz’s three children and wife, all of whom were rarely seen during the comic strip’s run. In the next few panels Offissa Pupp considers being kinder and is confronted by a ghostly specter that makes him write a note about letting kindness lead him rather than his goal of justice.

The second to last panel features Krazy Kat watching Pupp write the note with the ghost behind him, and in the last panel Offissa Pupp reads the note as Ignatz steps out from the back of the costume and throws a brick at Krazy Kat. The art is signed by Herriman, dated and has a King Features Syndicate copyright strip. It is also date-stamped.

Herriman created Krazy Kat in 1913, and the strip with the anthropomorphic cat ran until 1944. Due to its exceptional nature this example has been reprinted in every major Krazy Kat book and Herriman publication.

"George Herrimann's Krazy Kat is widely and rightly regarded as one of the most important American comic strips in history, if not the most important,” said Hake’s Americana President Alex Winter. “Ranging from almost straight-up gag comedy to debate-inspiring moments of surreality, Herrimann and his cast of characters delivered a unique, entertaining brand of insight and humor for more than three decades.”

Hake’s online and absentee auction closes in chronological lot order over three days: March 17-19, 2015. View the Krazy Kat art and the entire auction catalog at .

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Complete original art for Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip appearing Nov. 3, 1935. Art by George Herriman. Image courtesy of Hake's Americana & Collectibles Panel from original art for Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip appearing Nov. 3, 1935. Art by George Herriman. Image courtesy of Hake's Americana & Collectibles Panel from original art for Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip appearing Nov. 3, 1935. Art by George Herriman. Image courtesy of Hake's Americana & Collectibles Panel depicting now-classic brick-throwing scene from original art for Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip appearing Nov. 3, 1935. Art by George Herriman. Image courtesy of Hake's Americana & Collectibles
Last Updated on Friday, 13 March 2015 10:01

Marilyn Monroe photograph auction includes rare shots from last sitting

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Written by Auction House PR   
Monday, 09 March 2015 08:42
Bert Stern (American, 1929-2013), 'Marilyn Monroe, Sequined Gloves,' 1962. Archival pigment print. 28-3/4 x 28-3/4 inches (73.0 x 73.0 cm). Signed in ink lower margin recto. Provenance: Society Stylist LLC, Dallas. Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000. Image provided by Heritage DALLAS – Intimate photographs of Marilyn Monroe from Bert Stern's storied "Last Sitting" photo shoot may sell for a combined $36,000+ in a special auction March 10-15 at Heritage Auctions. The contemplative collection -- from early, wide-eyed shots of Norma Jeane in 1945 to raw, sensual photos taken just two weeks before her death -- will be offered exclusively on Heritage's

“This collection is well curated by a collector and highlights her entire career from her early modeling to iconic images from Bert Stern’s The Last Sitting,” said Rachel Peart, Director for Photographs at Heritage. “Marilyn is such an icon and the images continue to be as stunning today as they were 60 years ago.”

The auction’s selection of roughly 45 lots touches on Monroe’s final photo shoots, including a portfolio of color and black and white photos from sessions on the beach in Santa Monica and the Hollywood Hills. The photo shoot would be her last, taking place just two weeks before the starlet’s death. Numerous works by photographer Bert Stern from his series titled The Last Sitting, 1962, and ranges from the playful Marilyn Monroe, Here's to You, 1962 (est. $2,500) to the risqué Marilyn Monroe - Rhythm (from The Last Sitting for Vogue), 1962 (est. $3,000).

Marilyn Monroe, Sequined Gloves, 1962, shot by Stern, highlights the star's vivacious curves and trademark blonde locks (est. $6,000+).

Additional images from her first modeling shoots, when she was known simply as Norma Jeane, include a series of photos taken by Andre De Dienes from 1945 to 1949, including Marilyn Monroe (Tobey Beach White Swim Suit), 1945 (est. $1,200), and the touching, Marilyn Monroe, 1946, both estimated to sell for $1,200+.

Milton Greene’s Marilyn Monroe, 1953 (est. $3,000+) is an artful view of the actress at the very pinnacle of her career, while images by George Barris, such as Orange Bikini, The Last Shoot, 1962, (est. $1,200+) Marilyn Monroe, Stretched Towel, 1962 (est. $1,200) and Marilyn Monroe, Wondering, 1962 (est. $1,200+), perfectly juxtapose Monroe’s early innocence and her later sex symbol persona.

For additional information, visit .

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Bert Stern (American, 1929-2013), 'Marilyn Monroe, Sequined Gloves,' 1962. Archival pigment print. 28-3/4 x 28-3/4 inches (73.0 x 73.0 cm). Signed in ink lower margin recto. Provenance: Society Stylist LLC, Dallas. Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000. Image provided by Heritage
Last Updated on Monday, 09 March 2015 08:56

1936 magazine shows unmasked, original version of The Lone Ranger

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Written by Outside Media Source   
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 14:18
The Lone Ranger 'ashcan' prototype pulp magazine, August 1936, featuring The Lone Ranger’s first appearance in print, est. $10,000-$20,000. Hake’s Americana & Collectibles image YORK, Pa. – When did the crime-fighting Texas lawman The Lone Ranger first put his stamp on American pop culture? If you said “in 1933, on the radio,” you’re obviously a well-informed historian or fan. But few may know about the “ashcan” prototype pulp magazine printed by Spartan Publishing in August 1936 to establish copyright for The Lone Ranger. It was not until April 1937, eight months after the prototype came out, that the first official issue of The Lone Ranger Magazine actually saw the light of day -- and with entirely different cover art.

The prototype contains two Western stories by Wayne Brooks and Peter Stuart, with six illustrations. The stories have no Lone Ranger content, but the third entry on the title page teases the start of a story on Page 21 with "The Lone Ranger Rides – A Glimpse Down Pioneer Trail." In large bold type it reads in part: "...It's The Man Who Rides Alone Who Meets Danger In The Most Dramatic Fashion...The Lone Rider Carries Excitement Wherever He Goes! Follow The Adventures Of The Lone Ranger In Every Thrilling Issue Of This Magazine.”

Only two examples of the August 1936 prototype pulp magazine are known to exist. Their (identical) covers are proof that the lead character was still under development at the time of publication, as he is shown with a red bandanna disguising his face, rather than the later – and more familiar – black eye mask.

The extremely rare publication illustrating this article -- one of the two prototypes mentioned above -- is especially desirable because it has been graded by the CGC. Ordinarily, the CGC does not grade pulp magazines, but this is no ordinary "ashcan" -- the name given to cheap publications that were meant to be discarded after being read. It's one of the prized highlights in Hake’s Americana & Collectibles’ March 17-19 online and absentee auction.

Hake’s President Alex Winter describes the magazine as "historically important because it represents the first appearance of The Lone Ranger in print. The Lone Ranger differs from other 20th-century Western heroes because he has remained in the public consciousness and even gained new fans without a marketing machine or somebody to embody and promote the character." Clayton Moore, who represented The Lone Ranger at public events and in the media for 40 years, passed away in 1999.

Winter likens The Lone Ranger to Superman or Captain America. "The character is rooted in our childhoods, and we don’t let go of it," he said.

The Lone Ranger No. 1 prototype pulp magazine printed in August 1936 is offered in Hake’s March 17-19 auction with an opening bid of $5,000 and a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$20,000.

To contact Hake's, call tollfree 866-404-9800 or 717-434-1600. Visit Hake's online at .

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The Lone Ranger 'ashcan' prototype pulp magazine, August 1936, featuring The Lone Ranger’s first appearance in print, est. $10,000-$20,000. Hake’s Americana & Collectibles image
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2015 11:57

007 production moves to Rome after surviving Sony hack

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Written by TRISHA THOMAS, Associated Press   
Thursday, 26 February 2015 10:18
Monica Bellucci at the Women's World Award 2009. Image by Manfred Werner. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. ROME (AP) – After surviving the Sony hack, production for the new James Bond thriller SPECTRE has moved to Rome, where crowds are gathering to catch a glimpse of 007 and the oldest Bond girl yet, 50-year-old Monica Bellucci.

Daniel Craig, 46, and Bellucci have been seen around town in recent days as filming has taken them from the cobble-stoned streets of the historic center out to the Mussolini-era modern EUR neighborhood.

The main thoroughfare of central Rome, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, was closed to traffic early Tuesday for a nighttime car chase scene featuring Bond's silver Aston Martin. Another chase took place along the bike path on the banks of the Tiber River.

Details of the plot of the Sam Mendes-directed film had been a well-guarded secret until Bond producer EON Productions acknowledged in December that an early version of the script was among material stolen in the Sony Pictures cyberattack. Details have since circulated online.

Nevertheless, curious Romans have come out in droves to take in scenes of the 20-day shoot, which followed an initial one in London.

“I hope to see James Bond. Someone told me that there is also Monica Bellucci,” said Floriana Sacco, 36, as she watched an apparent funeral scene being shot outside EUR's civic museum. “We hope that as all other film settings in Rome, it will be beautiful and it will be good publicity to this beautiful city.”

City officials expect as much as 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in permit fees alone, and that the total boost to the Eternal City could be several times that given the extras, security guards, film crews, catering services and hotels being used.

Rome's historic center has provided the backdrop to several major motion pictures in recent years, including Woody Allen's 2012 romance To Rome With Love, and Paolo Sorrentino's 2013 The Great Beauty, which went on to win an Oscar for best foreign film.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-02-24-15 1515GMT

Monica Bellucci at the Women's World Award 2009. Image by Manfred Werner. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2015 10:29
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