Popularity of historical memorabilia doesn't reduce with time

By Terry Maurer, Special to the Herald June 29, 2008 

The Beatles were a cultural and musical phenomenon that hit the U.S. at the beginning of 1964.

In the years before they were popular here, John, Paul, George and Ringo had first been struggling artists, then a super group in Great Britain and Europe.

In today's What's It Worth, a reader asks about her pre-U.S. Beatles fan magazine.

Q. I have a No. 1, Acme Publishing Inc., magazine titled The Beatles 'Round the World. About the size of a Life magazine, it has lots of black and white photos with brief articles.

The paper was newsprint, so the pages are a little yellowed. The covers and center page are in glossy color. The magazine is in very good condition. Is it worth anything? -- Anne in Richland

A. Your magazine, was published before the Beatles made their first American appearance. They debuted live in the U.S. on Feb. 9, 1964 on the Ed Sullivan Show, a Sunday night TV staple of the era. Seventy million people watched. The Beatles went on to play concerts in Washington, D.C., and New York's Carnegie Hall. After another gig on the Sullivan Show, the group flew back to England.

Already incredibly popular when they hit these shores in person, the Beatles were riding a tidal wave of popularity with the chart-topping single I Want To Hold Your Hand and Meet The Beatles, their Capitol records album that was No. 1 for 11 straight weeks.

Anyone who was around when all this happened -- nearly 45 years ago -- remembers "Beatlemania." The screaming, crying, fainting fans. The manic chase for all things Beatle.

For readers who weren't here for the Beatles, there's this take on the phenomenon from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cincinnati, where the Beatles were inducted in 1988.

"The impact of the Beatles upon popular music cannot be overstated; they revolutionized the music industry and touched the lives of all who heard them in deep and fundamental ways. They literally stood the world of pop culture on its head, setting the musical agenda for the remainder of the decade."

All the hype led to hundreds, perhaps thousands of licensed Beatle souvenirs and memorabilia. This magazine was among the flood of items you could buy.

At 40 pages and with more than 50 color and black and white photographs, Anne's fan magazine covers the Beatles' Scandinavian and European tours from October 1963 through January 1964, before they came here. Much space is devoted to the group's famous three weeks of concerts in Paris.

Today, in good condition, it sells for anywhere between $35 and $75 at bookshops and specialist dealers.

Q. This gavel and case were given to me by my father-in-law more than 40 years ago. Supposedly the gavel was made from wood from the cabin Abraham Lincoln was born in. I would like to pass this on to my grandson and would like to inquire in to it's authenticity and value. The metal plate on the box is legible and the script on the metal plate on the gavel head also attests to this being historical. -- Joe in Pasco

A. Appraisers see many "family items" where the story is "this quilt was used by George Washington," or "Benjamin Franklin had these dishes imported from France." Most of the stories turn out to be just that -- stories. They can't be documented or authenticated in any way.

Once in awhile, the "real deal" comes along. Joe's gavel could be one of those authentic items where the story is true.

The wording on the gavel itself (it may not show well in today's photo) reads, "Made from a piece of the Log cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born."

Our research hasn't turned up the William H. van Meter who in 1895 presented the gavel to Newark, New Jersey's Lincoln Post 11 of the Grand Army of the Republic -- a Union Civil War Veteran's association.

We did uncover historic reference to another gavel much like this one that was used at the 1896 Republican Convention in St. Louis.

The New York Times pre-convention coverage includes a story about the gavel used by the Convention Chairman. The Times' reporter wrote, "The gavel is an excellent piece of wood carving, done by W. H. Bartels of Carthage, Ill. Mr. Bartels selected the wood, a hickory log taken from the log cabin occupied by President Abraham Lincoln in New-Salem, Ill., in 1832." The gavel was supposed to have been presented to the eventual nominee -- William McKinley -- at the end of the convention.

So, there is historical reference that gavels such as this actually existed at that time.

Further research is need to authenticate this gavel and if it proves to be exactly what the plaque says it is, the value will be $500 and perhaps more.

* Terry Maurer, a Tri-City personal property appraiser and antiques dealer, is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. You may submit your antiques and collectible questions to What's It Worth by e-mail to whatsitworth@clearwire.net

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