Collector's Corner: Cat People
By Michele Alice
This is not about the movie.
And it's not about those individuals who adopt housefuls of felines.
No, this is about the people who collect some of the plethora of items about cats. Knick-knacks (figurines), calendars, books, prints, ornaments, clothing, jewelry - there's almost nothing marketed that doesn't bear the likeness of F. silvestris catus (the domestic cat).
So, what are just a very few of the more popular collectibles?
Fancy Feast Christmas/Holiday Ornaments
Each holiday season, Purina's Fancy Feast offers a limited-edition ornament free for proofs-of-purchase labels and s&h (http://www.fancyfeast.com/exclusively-yours/ornament.aspx).
Many of the retired pieces garner final online bids of from $10 to $30, but remember that the first on any series tends to be the most valuable. So, recently, a NIP (new in package) 1984 Fancy Feast ornament fetched $133.48!
The Cat in the Hat
First published in 1957, this children's favorite has seen numerous editions, but a true "first" (first edition, first printing) usually commands several thousand dollars. Look for the 200/200 price, printed on the inside flap of the dust jacket, which denotes this edition.
And don't overlook later printings. For example, a third printing of the first edition, with a 195/195 price on the dust jacket, can sell for several hundred dollars or more, depending on condition.
"First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books: A Guide to Identification," by Helen Younger, Marc Younger, and Dan Hirsch (http://www.alephbet.com/seussbib.htm) or (http://digbig.com/4femc) is the major print resource for collectors, but some information about various editions can be gleaned through book search engines like Addall, Alibris, and Bibliofind. For links to these and several others, go to Bibliomania at (http://bibliomania.net/Search.html).
A gray/black-and-white striped forerunner to Garfield, Cat appeared on everything from pillows and watches to calendars and cookie jars. The brainchild of Playboy magazine cartoonist B. Kliban, Cat made his debut in 1975 and has remained popular to this day. A few of the items that are particularly sought after by collectors are the face mugs by Sigma ($53), the 1981 ceramic Christmas ornaments ($50-100), and a salt and pepper set with Cat sporting red shoes on his paws ($41). (Prices are recent final bids at online auctions.)
The Message Board and Links at Kliban Klubhouse (http://www.geocities.com/tomakers) help make this a good resource for the Kliban collector.
Made in Japan Figurines
I recently saw a television commercial for what product or service I don't know - I was too busy looking at all the knick-knacks behind the actors. For prominently displayed was a ceramic Siamese cat, identical to one I owned.
After World War II and well into the 70's, all manner of ceramic figures were manufactured in Japan for the American market. They could be found on shelves at every Woolworth, Newberry, and Walgreen across the country. Cats were an especially popular subject, and my Siamese was made in a variety of sizes, several of which I have. Having been made in such large numbers, they are not particularly valuable, and I find them at yard sales and The Goodwill to this day.
Of course, there are a number of vintage Japanese cats that have been increasing in value. These are generally either those marked "Made in Occupied Japan" (between 1945 and 1952) or those by the more skilled artisans or shops. The more common labels - Napco, Lefton, etc. - can still command some nice prices, depending on condition and rarity. Here are just a few of the many resources available to aid in identification:
"Collectors Guide to Made in Japan Ceramics: Identification & Values," by Carole Bess White
"Napco" (Schiffer Book for Collectors), by Kathleen Deel
"Occupied Japan Collectibles: Identification & Value Guide," by Gene Florence
About the author:
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ adelphia.net eBay ID: Malice9
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