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Organ played on 'Bozo's Circus' to go to museum

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 06 May 2011 10:37
A costumed and face-painted Frank Avruch, circa 1960s, one of many TV actors who portrayed Bozo the Clown. Photo appears with permission of GNU Free Documentation License.

CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago marketing executive has paid $3,000 at auction to buy the electric organ used on the long-running Bozo's Circus television show.

The Chicago Tribune reports that while David Plier grew up watching the show, he doesn't plan on keeping the organ. The 43-year-old Plier says he will donate the organ to Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications. Plier serves on the museum's board.

The museum has other Bozo historic pieces, including a bass drum, costumes and the famous Grand Prize Game. Plier says the museum will create a Bozo exhibit in its new facility.

Plier says the organ needs some cosmetic and mechanical work before it can be displayed.

WGN-TV stopped broadcasting Bozo's Circus in 2001.


Information from: Chicago Tribune,

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Last Updated on Friday, 06 May 2011 10:49

Ginger Rogers gowns, shoes sold at Ore. fundraiser

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Written by PARIS ACHEN, Mail Tribune   
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 10:14
1937 Promotional photo of Ginger Rogers for Argentinean Magazine (printed in USA), produced by RKO Pictures and supplied to CINEGRAF. MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) - Actress Ginger Rogers bought a ranch on the Rogue River in 1940 to serve as her sanctuary from the Hollywood madness.

"The ranch was her hideaway and a place she could go and not wear makeup,'' said Roberta Olden, Rogers' former personal secretary.

When Rogers visited Southern Oregon, she put away her gowns in favor of casual clothes she could wear fishing on the Rogue River or picking blackberries to make jam.

Rogers' presence at her Southern Oregon oasis on the 1,000-acre ranch between Eagle Point and Shady Cove helped to build the region's reputation as a tourist destination where visitors could be one with nature, Olden said.

Rogers, who died in 1995, left her mark yet again Sunday when some of her most glamorous gowns and shoes were sold at a tea and fashion show to raise money for Southern Oregon Historical Society, an organization dedicated to keeping Rogers and other characters in Southern Oregon's history alive in the minds of the public.

"It helps to show that history can be very glamorous,'' said Allison Weiss, the historical society's executive director.

Since 1998, the historical society's budget has withered from more than $2 million to $600,000 per year due to the loss of funding from Jackson County, as well as the economic downturn. The organization relies completely on donations, grants and interest earnings. The event Sunday was expected to raise about $15,000.

Sharon Wesner Becker, wife of Jacksonville Mayor Paul Becker, came up with the idea about six years ago after seeing some of Rogers' gowns in a closet at Olden's home in Palm Desert, Calif. Paul Becker was a personal friend of Rogers for 20 years. The idea finally took form this year in honor of the 100th anniversary of Rogers' birth.

"Ginger was history here,'' Sharon Becker said. "She probably was one of our most famous residents.''

Models on Sunday breathed life into 20 of Rogers' personal gowns and paraded them down a catwalk set up before an audience of about 300 at the Rogue Valley Country Club. Five of the gowns were auctioned off at the end of the event, and 25 pairs of Rogers' shoes were sold at a silent auction before the fashion show. One of the gowns that Rogers wore in 1981 for an event, titled 'Texas Women: A Celebration of History,'' sold for $1,200.

Rogers bought her Rogue River ranch in 1940, the same year she starred in Kitty Foyle for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She visited the ranch when she had time off and wanted some solitude, Olden said. After she retired in 1969, she spent summers at the Southern Oregon ranch and spent the winter in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Olden said.

She used to shop at Quality Market on Jackson Street and the old Safeway, Olden said.

Rogers is the namesake for downtown Medford's Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater. She performed in the Hunt's Craterian theater in the 1920s and later, was instrumental in securing the seed money from the Fred Meyer Trust to build the current Craterian theater, which opened in 1997 after Rogers' death, Paul Becker said.

Becker met Rogers in Los Angeles in 1978 when he worked on a radio station.

"She introduced me to the (Southern Oregon) area, and I fell in love with it,'' he said. She also was a draw for others to visit Southern Oregon, including stars such Clark Gable.

Rogers' magnetism also drew two women from out of state to Medford on Sunday.

Joanne Carlson of Chicago and Whitney Hopler of Fairfax, Va. flew into Southern Oregon especially for the event. Both women said the actress was their role model during difficult times in their childhood.

"She was caring, but she wasn't a pushover,'' Carlson said. "When there was a conflict in my life, I would always ask myself what would she have done.''


Information from: Mail Tribune,

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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1937 Promotional photo of Ginger Rogers for Argentinean Magazine (printed in USA), produced by RKO Pictures and supplied to CINEGRAF.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 May 2011 10:33

Gretzky's NHL rookie card auctioned for $94,163

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Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 10:54
Wayne Gretzky rookie card auctioned by SCP Auctions, Inc. for $94,163. Image courtesy of SCP Auctions, Inc.

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (AP) - The Great One is still setting records.

Wayne Gretzky's NHL rookie card earned $94,163 at an online sports memorabilia auction Sunday. SCP Auctions says that's the highest price ever paid for a hockey card.

While a Gretzky rookie card is easy enough to find on eBay, it is rare to find one free of small flaws or imperfections. The card sold Sunday was graded 10, or mint condition, by Professional Sports Authenticator.

SCP calls it "arguably the most valuable modern trading card in existence.''

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-02-11 1510GMT

Wayne Gretzky rookie card auctioned by SCP Auctions, Inc. for $94,163. Image courtesy of SCP Auctions, Inc. Wayne Gretzky rookie card auctioned by SCP Auctions, Inc. for $94,163. Image courtesy of SCP Auctions, Inc.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 12:57

University of Akron auctioning train collection

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Written by CAROL BILICZKY, Akron Beacon Journal   
Friday, 29 April 2011 14:21
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - When the University of Akron bought Quaker Square in 2007, a valuable hoard of railroad memorabilia came with it.

Now collectors will have a chance to get their hands on some of it.

UA will auction off tens of thousands of items divided into more than 1,300 lots Saturday at the former shopping and entertainment complex in downtown Akron.

The train collection once was the heart of the complex that opened as a tourist mecca in 1975. The shops, restaurants and bars in the former oats factory were decorated with model trains and actual train equipment, plus memorabilia.

"When people come here, that's the first thing they ask: 'What happened to the trains?'" said Mike Szczukowski, the UA materials handling director who is overseeing the sale.

UA already has held two tag sales of Quaker Square hotel furniture, decorations and memorabilia, the last of which in June generated about $40,000, he said.

Saturday's sale offers such one-of-a-kind items that UA decided to hold an auction.

Auctioneer Paul Wingard will sell off the items from Quaker Square's basement via camera. As many as 1,000 bidders will watch the proceedings from first-floor cameras, Szczukowski said.

The highlight probably will be the miniature railroad buildings, people and scenery made in the 1940s and 1950s by train enthusiast Mack Lowry, who moved his Railways of America Museum on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls to Quaker Square in 1976. His collection was billed as the largest model train display in the world.

The collection was so vast that about half of it immediately went into storage in the 400,000-square-foot complex and never emerged.

Lowry's widow eventually sold the collection to Quaker Square owner Jay Nusbaum, who in turn handed it over to UA.

The sale also will include towel bars, pipe holders and storage racks from actual trains; six real-size luggage carts, some of them loaded with old suitcases; 20 leather-backed chairs from dining cars; round brass tables from dining cars; train artwork, magazines and advertising memorabilia; two mailbags; and old railroad tools.

The auction will feature more than trains.

Wingard also will auction off models and props handmade for a miniature circus, plus two big-top tents, amusement rides and a wide variety of miscellany.

Akron rubber worker Robert W. Harned created the Greatest Little Show on Earth in the basement of his home starting in the mid-1920s, displayed it at stores and sold it to Lowry, who in turn moved it to Quaker Square.

The auction won't spell the end of trains or the circus at Quaker Square. The university is maintaining displays of both in the museum next to the gift shop on the main floor. The auction pieces are all extra.

Nor is this the end of the UA sales. In coming months, the university will spotlight a trove of other Quaker Square memorabilia, from airplanes to stained glass to car parts, as it edges closer to turning the facility into classrooms. Part of the hotel already has been turned into a residence hall for students.

For now, the focus is on clearing out the train and circus memorabilia. Interested bidders can preview the items for two hours beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Like items that will be sold as groups will be bundled together in clear plastic bags or displayed together on tables.


Information from: Akron Beacon Journal,

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-26-11 0150GMT


Last Updated on Monday, 09 May 2011 09:45

Museum's Coca-Cola auctions promise to be ‘delicious & refreshing’

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Written by TOM HOEPF, Auction Central News International and Outside PR Source   
Friday, 29 April 2011 14:19
Like most early Coca-Cola posters, this one issued circa 1895 featured an attractive woman. It is the only one like it known to exist and is estimated to sell for $30,000. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Collectibles. ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (ACNI) – The biggest and arguably the best privately held collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia will be sold over a two-year period, much of it at public auctions starting as soon as mid-September.

Owners of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia in Elizabethtown have decided to disperse the collection of more than 80,000 items, which is estimated to be worth as much as $10 million.

“The response has been overwhelming. We’re just telling collectors to get signed up for updates and notices about the auctions,” said Larry Schmidt, who represents the fourth generation of the Schmidt family to be active in the Coca-Cola bottling business. He has been involved in the museum since its founding in 1977 and was president of the family owned Coca-Cola franchise in the 1990s.

Unlike his parents who assembled the Coca-Cola collection, Larry Schmidt said he is not a collector and will hold nothing back.

“Everything will be sold,” he said. “It’s a premier collection.”

“A big portion of our life has gone into collecting these wonderful, artistic pieces,” said Jan Schmidt, who, along with her late husband Bill, started the collection in 1972 when they went to an antique advertising show in Indianapolis and came home with a carload of vintage Coca-Cola memorabilia.

“That was the 1970s at the start of the Coca-Cola advertising craze. At that first show there was a huge amount of marvelous things at low prices,” said Larry Schmidt.

The Schmidt collection consists of one-of-a-kind posters, rare serving trays, early bottles, lighted signs, advertising clocks, antique delivery trucks, even the side of a barn emblazoned with “Drink Coca-Cola in Bottles.”

“With 80,000 items it will be necessary to sell some things in larger lots, but we don’t want to do anything that will harm the value. We want to sell the collection in a slow, controlled fashion that will protect the market and collectors,” said Schmidt.

“This collection is the best of the best,” said Allan Petretti, author of Petretti’s Coca-Cola Collectibles Price Guide, who is appraising the collection and helping the family market it. “The Schmidts defined collecting. The depth and breadth of their collection is beyond incredible. They have the rarest of rare pieces. They have things from every era and from every category. You name it, and they have it,” said Petretti.

Richard Opfer Auctioneering Inc., Timonium, Md., will conduct the auctions, which will be held on-site at the museum at 100 Buffalo Creek Drive in Elizabethtown, 50 miles south of Louisville.

The museum has been closed to catalog the items and prepare for the sales.

Items of greatest interest will be sold at the live auctions. Many items with lower value will be sold through the museum’s website beginning in mid-June, said Schmidt.

Coca-Cola runs deep in the Schmidt family heritage. In 1901, Frederick Schmidt became only the fifth Coca-Cola bottler in the nation when he opened a plant in Louisville, Ky. In 1920, the franchise, which covered much of Kentucky and parts of Southern Indiana, was split into three areas with Luke Schmidt, Bill’s father, taking over the Elizabethtown operations. Larry Schmidt, Bill’s son, became the fourth-generation president when he took over in the mid-1990s. The Schmidts later sold the franchise while the museum has remained.

“It’s a historic collection and an amazing legacy my parents have created,” said Schmidt. “It’s been a part of the fabric of Elizabethtown, so this has been a difficult decision but it’s the right one. It creates an opportunity for others to own a piece of history and it allows us to give back to the community.”

The Schmidt family intends to establish a foundation where much of the funds from the sales will be used for charitable purposes.

For details and updates about the sales visit the museum website at

Copyright 2011 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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In the video below, Larry Schmidt comments on the contents of the museum.


Like most early Coca-Cola posters, this one issued circa 1895 featured an attractive woman. It is the only one like it known to exist and is estimated to sell for $30,000. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Collectibles. The Schmidt museum has the only known complete collection of more than 200 styles of Coca-Cola serving trays. This is the hardest to find, dating from 1897. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Collectibles. Larry Schmidt represents the fourth generation of his family to work in the Coca-Cola bottling business. In the background is a side of a barn painted with the Coca-Cola logo. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Collectibles. Bill and Jan Schmidt posed for this photo in 1983. The soda fountain, which was part of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, will be sold at the first auction. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Collectibles. The paper label indicates this 1920s wooden barrel of Coca-Cola syrup was delivered to a wholesale grocer in Junction City, Kans. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Collectibles. Baird Clock Co. produced one of its many advertising wall clocks for Coca-Cola in 1893. Image courtesy of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Collectibles.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 April 2011 15:26

Grey Flannel Auctions inks deal with Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation

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Written by Auction House PR   
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 16:19
Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, Baltimore, where Grey Flannel's free sports memorabilia appraisal fair will be held on June 4, 2011. Photo by Andrew Horne.

WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Officials at Grey Flannel Auctions announced today that they have entered into a multi-year marketing and promotional deal with the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation Inc. The foundation is an independent, not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to perpetuating the historic legacy of Babe Ruth, Baltimore's Orioles and Colts; and local and regional sports.

As part of the new arrangement, Grey Flannel will conduct two annual events at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, located adjacent to Baltimore’s Oriole Park. The first of this year’s jointly sponsored events will be an appraisal fair conducted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, 2011, in the Sports Legends Museum’s theater.

Grey Flannel’s team of experts will be on hand to accept consignments to future auctions and provide free appraisals on game-worn apparel, equipment, vintage collector cards, autographed items and any other professional sports memorabilia.

“It’s a great honor for us to be associated with the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation. Their exhibits and programs at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum and Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards instill a very positive and lasting impression on youngsters, while at the same time honoring Baltimore’s titans of professional sports,” said Grey Flannel Auctions’ president, Richard E. Russek.

The appraisal fair will take place on the same day as an Orioles home game at Camden Yards (start time: 7:05 p.m.). “It’s a perfect way to spend the day – visiting the Sports Legends Museum, meeting the Grey Flannel team at the free appraisal fair, and topping it off with an evening in Baltimore’s beautiful Oriole Park, watching the O’s play the Blue Jays,” Russek said.

Additional information about the appraisal fair will be available soon at and

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Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, Baltimore, where Grey Flannel's free sports memorabilia appraisal fair will be held on June 4, 2011. Photo by Andrew Horne.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 18:09

Fans promote comic books as reading aid

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Written by BILLY WATKINS, The Clarion-Ledger   
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 09:24
The Amazing Spider-Man No. 23 (April 1965), featuring the Green Goblin. Cover art by co-creator Steve Ditko. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Spider-Man All Marvel characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 1965 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved. JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Shayla Patton isn't bothered by her husband's collection of 55,000 comic books stored in a makeshift office at their home in Florence, Miss.

“I read some of them, too,” she said, laughing. “But, seriously, I'm glad Charles has them to come home to. He works in the emergency room at (the University of Mississippi Medical Center). These comic books are a good stress reliever. They help get his mind off things he has to witness every day that most people don't have to deal with.”

And there is another reason she doesn't complain: The Pattons are certain that reading comic books has increased their two daughters' vocabulary, comprehension and love of books.

“I remember when (11-year-old) Amiyah was in third or fourth grade, and she brought home these vocabulary tests she had taken,” Shayla Patton says. “One of the words she had defined correctly was ‘comrade.’ I was pretty impressed. I said, ‘How did you know that?’ She said, ‘I remember seeing that word in a Batman comic book and asking Daddy what it meant. He explained that Batman and Robin were comrades.’ There is no doubt comic books have opened up the world of reading for them.”

Jay Long, owner of Heroes and Dreams: Comics and Collectibles in Flowood, Miss., says he frequently hears similar stories.

“Comic books offer one of the best ways for a child to learn to read because one half of the brain grabs the artwork and the other half grabs the words and story. It's a full reading experience.”

Flowood library includes graphic novels – a series of stories from previously published comic books – and Japanese-style comic books in its children's section.

“It makes reading fun for a lot of youngsters who have never liked to read before,” said Antoinette Giamalva, children's service librarian in Flowood. “And the teenagers really like the Japanese comics that are read back to front and from right to left.”

Comic books, which first appeared in the 1930s, remain a hot collectible.

“Our clientele includes kids who are in elementary school all the way up to people who are retired and have been collecting all their lives,” Long said. “Many of them are in here every Wednesday to pick up the new releases.”

“The movies have really helped,” said Van Peeples, owner of Van's Comics and Cards in Ridgeland, Miss. “People will see a Batman movie or a Spider-Man movie, and then want to come check out the comic books about them.”

Prices are still reasonable from the two largest publishers – $2.99 for new single copies by DC, and $3.99 for those issued by Marvel.

Visually, comic books have come a long way over the past few decades.

“They used to be printed in four-color on paper that was much like a newspaper,” Long said. “Today, the art quality is just incredible. They use multi-colors and the pages are slick. And the art really draws the reader in.”

Some things haven't changed: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men and Wonder Woman are among the top sellers.

“But DC and Marvel will come out with something special for the summer,” Long said. “This year, DC has The War of the Green Lanterns, because there is a Green Lantern movie coming out. DC also has The Return of Doomsday, the character who killed Superman in 1992.”

Have no fear – Superman is alive and well.

“Death doesn't seem to be a big sticking point in comic books,” said Clark Lee, 38, a media specialist at Mississippi Public Broadcasting and an avid collector, particularly of Batman and X-Men. “They even killed Batman off in a way ... sent him back to the beginning of time. But they always find a way of reviving them. And it makes for some pretty good collectibles.''

Like most hobbies, collecting can be as expensive as one wants to make it.

“The most I've ever paid for one was $370,” Lee said. “It was The Incredible Hulk, No. 181. I bought it because it was the first full comic appearance of Wolverine. I got that in 1999.''

Giamalva, 24, has been collecting about two years.

“We were setting up for a comic day here at the library and I picked one up and started reading,” she said. “I found it really interesting. Now, I'm into mostly the graphic novels of Lois Lane, Batman, Mockingbird, Hawkeye, Black Canary and Green Arrow. I'm buying something every month.”

Everyone collects differently, Long said.

“When people ask me how to get started, I encourage people to read what they like,” he said. “So many people back in the 1990s were buying comic books on a speculative basis, trying to figure out what comics would gain value and be worth a lot of money about the time their kids were starting college. That's a pretty unrealistic way to look at it.

“So I suggest people find a character that touches them, that they love reading about and if it becomes worth a lot of money one day, great. If not, they still have something they love.”

And, in some cases, a guide to life lessons.

“Our oldest daughter, MiKayla, is 12 and nearly 6 feet tall,” Shayla Patton said. “She doesn't like being in the spotlight, but it's sort of hard for her to walk around and not be noticed. So we always tell her, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ She first heard that when we were reading her a Spider-Man comic book. And that's a saying we use throughout this house today.”


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger,

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-25-11 1818GMT


Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 12:26

Police recover rare Superman comic stolen from Nicolas Cage

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Written by ANTHONY McCARTNEY, AP Entertainment Writer   
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 16:38
Action Comics No. 1 features the first appearance of Superman. Very few examples are known to exist. This one sold for $1 million in a private transaction brokered by on Feb. 22, 2010. Image courtesy

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A valuable comic featuring the debut of Superman has re-surfaced in a storage locker, and police said Monday that it appears to be the same one stolen from Nicolas Cage more than a decade ago.

The mint copy of Action Comics No. 1 was in police custody after being found last week in a San Fernando Valley storage locker. An investigation into its theft and recovery is under way.

The comic was authenticated and appears to be the one stolen from Cage in 2000, said Detective Don Hrycyk with the Los Angeles Police Department's Art Theft Detail.

It is unclear whether the 1938 comic will be returned to the Oscar-winning actor. Hrycyk said Cage accepted an insurance payout after its theft and will have to work out the details with the company.

The actor made clear in a statement that he would like it back. "It is divine providence that the comic was found and I am hopeful that the heirloom will be returned to my family," Cage said in a statement released by his publicist.

Cage is an avid comic collector, and the Action Comics issue is one of the highest-coveted books in superhero history. A copy of the issue was sold in March 2010 for $1.5 million. It was originally sold for 10 cents.

The recovery of Cage's comic was first reported Sunday by the Ventura County Star. The paper said it was found in a storage locker in the San Fernando Valley last week and that a comic collector who originally sold the book to Cage verified its authenticity.

Hrycyk said his investigation is in its early stages and he is checking out all the stories about how the comic was found.

The detective said a number of false leads on the comic were generated over the years, including a tip in 2002 that the issue was in a safe deposit box in Tennessee. Police searched the box, but found a replica of the comic's cover, which depicts Superman hoisting a car over his head, wrapped around a woman's lingerie catalog.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 16:42

Pacific nation's William and Kate stamps raise eyebrows

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 08 April 2011 17:33
The commemorative postage stamps from the Pacific-island nation of Niue that have WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - The Pacific nation of Niue has printed unusual commemorative stamps for Britain's royal wedding: an image of Prince William and Kate Middleton with perforations that split the couple down the middle.

The general manager of stamps and coins at New Zealand Post, which designed and printed the stamps, told TV3 on Tuesday that the design had been approved Queen Elizabeth II.

Ivor Masters described the design as innovative. He said the stamps were collectors items so it was very unlikely they would be torn apart for postage.

The item features a single image of Kate and William standing side by side on two stamps of different values. Ripping along the stamps' perforations would tear the royal couple apart.

New Zealand and Niue are Commonwealth nations.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-05-11 1026GMT


Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 08:10

Ex-hockey stars cashing in on private troves

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 04 April 2011 12:00
Formerly with the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the now-retired NHL center Bryan Trottier played with the All-Star Legends 2008 in Toronto. Image taken by Horge, Nov. 9, 2008. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. MONTREAL (AP) - Stained clothing, chipped vulcanized rubber and even false teeth.

Whatever the item, if it comes from the personal trove of a retired hockey star it can mean big money. Former pros are reaping cash returns by auctioning gear from their private collections.

Collectors and fans are shelling out more and more for pieces of hockey history - stirring up excitement that has ex-players digging into their own stashes to get in on the action.

This week, dozens of items belonging to Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier, including a pair of Stanley Cup rings, sold for a total of more than $60,000 through a Montreal-area auction house.

In the same sale, Classic Auctions also unloaded personal articles for former NHL all-star Vincent Damphousse and Czech hockey legend Vaclav Nedomansky - earning them around $25,000 each.

But what exactly inspires old pros to unload so much stuff? Some insist it's simply about reclaiming their homes from the mountains of mementoes.

"I had a freaking garage full - I'm talking like a three-car garage,'' Hall of Fame winger Luc Robitaille told The Canadian Press, referring to sports items he's accumulated over the years. "So it was crazy.''

Robitaille hopes to sell part of his personal collection - including jerseys, pucks and a full-size hockey net - in June with the help of Classic Auctions.

He said he will put the money he raises into his foundation for troubled youth in Los Angeles.

Three-time Stanley Cup winner Rogie Vachon, who recently made about $75,000 for selling more than 30 items, had a similar storage dilemma.

"The problem is we have so many things that we keep over the years and every time you move to another house . . . things (the mementos) get broken or you lose stuff,'' Vachon said in an interview from his home in Los Angeles.

Vachon, who sold the Stanley Cup ring he won in 1967-68 with the Montreal Canadiens, figures he'll probably keep the cash for his grandchildren.

He said he was no longer attached to the artifacts and hopes someone else will get some use out of them.

"After a while, it's just sitting there and you figure 'Well, maybe somebody will enjoy having it in their little trophy room,''' he said.

Classic Auctions president Marc Juteau said former players often have the financial returns in mind, whether it's for themselves, their families or charity.

"They've had (the items) with them for their entire careers, so for them it probably doesn't mean as much as to some of the collectors,'' said Juteau, whose packed warehouse holds everything from a vintage Bobby Orr doll to graffiti-covered wooden doors from Muhammad Ali's old gym.

"If you won seven Stanley Cups, to sell two (rings) is not the end of the world - you still have five.''

And these days aficionados will snap up the strangest things.

In November, the auctioneer sold game-worn, fake teeth from Canadiens great Yvan Cournoyer for nearly $1,400.

"I don't want to say that more players want to sell their stuff, but I think the memorabilia market is definitely picking up,'' said Juteau, who's been selling sports collectibles since the 1980s. "I think it's a hot trend right now and there's more people looking to invest.''

Business has also been good for collectors looking to sell high on hockey treasures they picked up years ago. This week, the auction house brought in more than $55,000 for the puck Wayne Gretzky used in 1989 to notch career point No. 1,851 and pass Gordie Howe as the all-time NHL points leader.

Juteau's company made nearly $1.3 million last year for the jersey Paul Henderson wore when he scored the 1972 Summit Series winner.

But it's the personal collections of retired hockey players that have drawn much interest in recent years, particularly Stanley Cup rings. Trottier's two rings sold this week for about $20,000 each, while Vachon's made him about $15,000.

"It's very special for some people to own an actual Stanley Cup ring that once belonged to an NHL player,'' Juteau said.

In 2005, Habs great Jean Beliveau was one of the first hockey legends to auction pieces from his private vault. He made nearly $1 million for nearly 200 items, including the $69,045 he received for his 1958-59 Stanley Cup ring.

At the time, Beliveau said he would share the money with his family, including his daughter and two granddaughters.

But the 45-year-old Robitaille, who played in the era of multimillion-dollar salaries, doubts that former players from the days of lower wages are selling their stuff because they're short of cash.

"I don't think there's that much money in it,'' said Robitaille, who retired after the 2005-06 season and sits 10th all-time in NHL goals scored with 668. "I don't think it's something for guys where it makes a difference in their lives, to tell you the truth.''

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-01-11 1820GMT


Formerly with the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the now-retired NHL center Bryan Trottier played with the All-Star Legends 2008 in Toronto. Image taken by Horge, Nov. 9, 2008. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 April 2011 12:35

Wills and Kate Royal Wedding stamps available soon

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 16:50
The British Royal Mail's new stamps featuring the official engagement portraits taken by world-renowned photographer Mario Testino.

LONDON (AP) - Britain's Royal Mail is celebrating Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding with a new set of stamps that feature their official engagement portraits.

Two pictures of the couple taken by fashion and celebrity photographer Mario Testino will be printed on the set of commemorative stamps, which can be ordered beginning April 7.

The Royal Mail said Tuesday the collectibles have been approved by William and will be released on April 21, the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

William has been featured on stamps twice before - to mark the Queen Mother's 100th birthday on August 4, 2000, and three years later to mark his 21st birthday.

Meanwhile, Transport for London said Tuesday that William and his bride-to-be will also grace special commemorative transit cards.



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AP-WF-03-29-11 1038GMT


Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2011 09:01
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