Tag Archives: Collectors Show

A Collection of Lost Grateful Dead Recordings Are Found

Losing Then Grateful for Finding the Dead

 2015 will mark 50 years of The Grateful Dead. During their 30 year career, the Grateful Dead played 2,300 live shows. Of those about 1,700 were recorded and archived. So who cares, right?

It’s not like the Dead were ever huge chart toppers or hit makers. Name a hit song by the group. See? But the number of top ten hits is not what makes this group special. What does make them more noteworthy than anything else was and is the loyalty of their fans and the groups’ devotion to them in turn. David Meerman Scott wrote a whole book about this, “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History.”

So in 2013 when Carolyn Garcia (Jerry’s former wife) mentioned that she’d found a small box of reels among Garcia’s belongings, and she read off the labels. David Lemieux, archivist who knows the Dead’s collection better than anyone, instantly recognized that they had struck audio gold. Lemieux had Garcia send the reels to sound engineer Jeffrey Norman, who eventually gave him the good news: these were indeed recordings they didn’t know existed, and better yet, they were from very important eras. Despite the fact that the reel sat for 43 years in less than optimal storage conditions, Lemieux says the sound quality is great — it’s an Owsley Stanley soundboard recording. Even more important, the performance quality is outstanding.

“It’s a show of incredible historical significance,” Lemieux told Rolling Stone, “because it’s the Grateful Dead, but they weren’t billed as the Dead.” The show was promoted as Mickey Hart and the Heartbeats and Bobby Ace and the Cards from the Bottom of the Deck, giving the Dead an extraordinary amount of freedom to do whatever they wanted.

“So they didn’t perform a full three- or four-hour electric psychedelic Grateful Dead concert,” Lemieux said. “They played an acoustic set, and it was a long one.”

The 80-minute show ends with Ron “Pigpen” McKernan playing six songs solo acoustic, sitting on a stool and building his legacy as not only an incredible bluesman, but also an especially adept guitar player.

April of 1970 was what Lemieux – who hates the terms “crossroads” and “reinventing” – describes as a “transitional” time for the Dead. A month before this particular show the band had been in the studio recording Workingman’s Dead, and a little later in the spring and early summer they went back to record American Beauty. Widely considered the Dead’s two classic acoustic albums, those records were a departure from their Sixties sound. “[This is] massively transitional Dead,” he emphasized. Lemieux said that they’ve got a host of new stuff planned for the 50th year Grateful Dead anniversary in 2015, and for the 2014 releases due out this spring. He said there was a show from 1971 in Garcia’s box that’s “really hot” and has no known set list and hinted that he’s been immersed in 1983 and 1984 Dead.

“People are going to be pretty shocked by what’s to come,” he promised. A self-described “vinyl-head,” Lemieux considers the Family Dog show the perfect Record Store Day Release. According to Norman, who still does all the Grateful Dead mastering, the vinyl versions of the shows are “like listening to them in color for the first time.” As an archivist, though, this show is particularly exciting for Lemieux, because it means that come Black Friday fans will be able to hear something no one knew existed six months ago. “It’s very rare, it’s unique, and collectors are going to flip out on it,” he said.

In October, 2013 Rhino Records issued 7,500 vinyl copies of the lost show. A notice on the album cover says, “This rare recording was made on a non-professional machine at low level and contains some tape hiss and other undesirable stuff. Several procedures were employed to clarify the sound, but artifacts may still be heard. However, the music shines through, and the performance is too good not to bring to you.”




Over 800 Dummies Is A Whole Lot of Dummy

This week on The Collector’s Show we meet Lisa Sweasy, Curator/Director of the Vent Haven Museum. Many museums start based on the collection of a single person and that is the case this week.

The Vent (short for ventriloquism) Haven Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world.  It houses more than 800 figures, thousands of photographs, playbills, letters, and an extensive library of vent-related books, some of which date back to the 1700’s.

To hear The Collectors Show go to http://www.webtalkradio.net or iTunes.

More About Collecting Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments from The Collectors Show

A Hallmark Keepsake replica of the original 12 inch G.I. Joe.


This week on The Collectors Show (www.webtalkradio.net) we meet Kevin Dilmore of Hallmark. Kevin was a collector of Hallmark Keepsake ornaments before he was an employee. He is one of so many people we have on the program who take their collecting passion and make it into a full time career.

The thing I really like about these ornaments is that they leverage other collectibles that remind us of a time when we were younger, or a time that was from what we can remember, better. Yoda in a Santa hat or a replica of the original G.I. Joe are just two examples. It looks like this trend will continue as on January 7, 2015 Hallmark and Mattel announced a renewed licensing agreement. According to their press release, the deal, which includes Mattel’s Hot Wheels, Monster High and Ever After High brands, also gives Hallmark the right to make ornaments and plush products with wider distribution in the United States and Canada. Cool!

Nothing really says Merry Christmas quite like Yoda in a Santa Suit.

Nothing really says Merry Christmas quite like Yoda in a Santa Suit.

And unlike so many other manufactured collectibles, these seem to (in some cases) have retained or increased their value. For example, on the Hooked On Hallmark website, (www.hookedonhallmark.com) there are ornaments for sale that list at $599.99 and dozens more that are priced at over $200.00 each. Like with all collectibles, I recommend collecting what you like and leave the profit taking to others or for a time when you REALLY need the money. At our house we own a number of the pricier/older/rare ornaments but they are strictly not for sale.


In 1973, when Hallmark introduced six glass ball ornaments and 12 yarn figures as the first collection of Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments, a new tradition of Christmas decorating was started and a new collectible industry was born. When the first line was introduced, they were unique in design, year-dated and available only for a limited time – innovations in the world of ornaments. Since 1973, Hallmark has introduced more than 8,000 different Keepsake Ornaments and more than 100 ornament series (groups of ornaments that share a specific theme).

Today’s Keepsake Ornaments reflect the way styles, materials, formats and technology have expanded since they first appeared in Hallmark stores. Once a collection of decorated glass balls and yarn figures, Keepsake Ornaments are now made in an array of wood, glass, metal, porcelain, and handcrafted formats, and many feature licensed properties. Technology has also been incorporated into the world of Keepsake Ornaments through light, sound and motion. The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the superior craftsmanship and high quality that ensures Keepsake Ornaments will become family heirlooms and cherished collectibles.

Collecting Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments On The Collectors Show

This week on The Collectors Show (www.webtalkradio.net) we meet Kevin Dilmore of Hallmark. Kevin was a collector of Hallmark Keepsake ornaments before he was an employee. He is one of so many people we have on the program who take their collecting passion and make it into a full time career.

Kevin Dilmore of Hallmark is our guest on The Collectors Show.

Kevin Dilmore of Hallmark is our guest on The Collectors Show.

Ever since his mom taught him to read at age 2, Kevin has loved to figure out how stories work so he could make up his own to tell-usually ones with spaceships, aliens and weird science stuff. In his career, he has told stories with novels, children’s books, screenplays, newspaper articles and more, including Hallmark greeting cards and Keepsake Ornaments. Kevin grew up in central Kansas and graduated from the University of Kansas.

You will hear his enthusiasm for the topic in his voice. Of course there is always news from the world of collecting, one story in particular that made me laugh. This one is about an author who wrote a book that did not sell well. To drive some sales he signed books to create a collectible but is now unhappy that the collectibles are selling well and he is not getting paid. I say either write better books or become a book dealer.

Mark Bellomo and Star Wars Collectibles

Our guest this week on The Collectors Show (www.webtalkradio.net) is Mark Bellomo. Mark is an accomplished author and collector. He has written hundreds of articles about toys from the 1980’s and a whole library full of books on vintage action figures and pop culture. Most recently, he wrote The Ultimate Guide to Vintage Star Wars: 1977-1985, a book that covers every action figure, accessory, creature, mail-away, play set, vehicle, and weapon system from Kenner’s original Star Wars toy line, along with a wealth of text discussing the history of the characters, spaceships, and settings within the Star Wars universe.

At 272 full-color pages, since the end of November this reference guide has already sold out of its first printing, and the book has garnered many positive reviews. The guide’s second printing was released nationwide on December 17th, 2014.

Star Wars Action Figures 1977 - 1985.

Star Wars Action Figures 1977 – 1985.

Like so many Mark found refuge in collecting from a very early age. He’s been interested in action figures since he was 5 years old. He later got into Spider Man Comics and received as a gift a C3PO in 1977 and never looked back.

Fast forward to the purchase by Disney of the Star Wars franchise. The first movies were pretty entertaining but the next 3 were not as well received. So why is this such an enduring thing? People who saw the 1st 3 were not the right age for the 2nd 3. Kids who saw those last 3 movies loved them. With the new TV show, it’s also a way to get a new generation of consumers into the Star Wars “brand”. So from a marketing standpoint, Lucas did their job of initiating a new generation of collectors and consumers and another tribe of consumers is born. All of us who collect go see these movies and it takes us back to a time in our lives that seems better now. Another reason is just practicality as he wrote about the first three movies because there was just too much to try and include. The characters from those first 3 movies are universally recognizable and are iconic.

Mark describes those original characters as “touchstones”, everyone recognizes them, as compared to characters from the later movies. There were also practical reasons, like limiting the scope of his book. He could write forever if he did not have any boundaries established for his work. Plus, the industry has to make money and Mark and others like him have to write for an audience that will buy books. The fact that he is passionate about action figures and comics compliment his writing and gives him a real purpose. If you can find a profession that combines something you really like to do and make money at, you have arrived. This is a thread that runs throughout the people who come on the Collectors Show. Most of them are passionate about their collections and have found ways to get paid at them.

The 12 Inch G.I. Joe and The Razor and The Blade

When you see the very first G.I. Joe, think of him as the “razor”. The original G.I. Joe came with a uniform, dog tags and training manual. That was it. To make him complete and more fun to play with, he needs equipment, different uniforms, buddies, etc. Those are the “blades”. This philosophy was different than the “play set” model from Kenner who sold you everything in a single box. Same thing with Barbie, Major Matt Mason and so many others through to Star Wars figures, and the phrase “collect them all” became vogue. While being fun to play with was what people my age remember about those original figures, marketing and product extension was what was at the center of their design. Since those early figures through now, the razor and blade model has been used with much success.

Mail Order and Cereal

Kenner was a division of General Mills, the cereal company. Kenner was well known for the Give A Show Projector and the Easy Bake Oven. The Cereal company marketers tied sales of breakfast food to the figures by offering them via mail order. If you sent a proof of purchase seal, you could redeem them for action figures from the Star Wars line. Kenner sold over 300 million Star Wars figures. Redemptions from the cereal company drove a lot of sales of cereal and action figures. It was a stroke of marketing genius.

The 12 Back Set and High Prices

In 1978, Kenner started making Star Wars action figures, mounted them on a cardboard back and sealed them in plastic. They made 12 figures to start with. Each figure had pictures of the other characters on the back of its “box”, known as a “cardback”.

Today, if he is still sealed in the original package, a Luke Skywalker figure could be worth over $600.00. Sure there were millions of the figures made, but how many of them were preserved in their original package and not played with, buried in a sand pile, eaten by the dog, etc. The answer of course is not many and that is why they are so expensive.

Make A Profit Now

To make money on figures this year, with the new movie coming out, you will have to buy those vintage characters and flip them the weekend the movie comes out. Mark did this successfully when he found out that the Guardians of The Galaxy movie was going to get made. He describes the process in detail during his interview on The Collectors Show (www.webtalkradio.net) or iTunes. Mark says there are always opportunities to make money in collectibles but it takes a lot of knowledge and a willingness to sell when the time is right.

To start a “vintage” collection now, he recommends finding a figure you like and when the opportunity presents itself, buy it.

Mark’s Book!

The Ultimate Guide to Vintage Star Wars: 1977-1985 is really good. Yes, it has all the information about pricing in it like all the price guides but it is also a very good read. He has lots of back story on the characters and it is a very well written narrative.


Bankrupted By Beanie Babies

If you listen to the Collectors Show (www.webtalkradio.net) you have heard me say many times 2 things: collect things that you like and that bring you pleasure; do not collect with the idea of making money. Some people do make money on collecting and many of the guests on the show spend full time on their careers and collecting. But those people have devoted years to study and have tremendous expertise. They are rare.

I was researching another project when I came across this video, “bankrupt by beanies” and felt compelled to share it with you all. It is a very dark lesson about the dangers of trying to turn a hobby into a profitable sideline. There is a lot more I intend to share with readers and listeners in the new year about this and other, similar occurrences.

Bankrupt By Beanies

This link will take you to a short film about Chris Robinson and his collection of beanie babies.

What Happened To Those Beanie Baby Collectors?

Beanie Babies were the “tulip craze” of the 1990’s. In just three years, collectors who saw the toys as an investment made creator Ty Warner, an eccentric college dropout, a billionaire–without advertising or big-box distribution.

Beanie Babies were ten percent of eBay’s sales in its early days, with an average selling price of $30–six times the retail price. At the peak of the bubble in 1999, Warner reported a personal income of $662 million–more than Hasbro and Mattel combined.

The end of the craze was swift and devastating, with “rare” Beanie Babies deemed worthless as quickly as they’d once been deemed priceless. For one family, the outcome was devastating.

Meet the Robinsons

Former soap opera star Chris Robinson spent as much as $100,000.00 on Beanies, thinking that the collection would one day become valuable enough to send his five children to college. He was wrong. Compounding his folly, Robinson had five collections for each child. “It was fun,” he told documentary filmmakers. Robinson owns 15 – 20 thousand beanie babies. He does not know their current value.

Robinson had played the role of Dr. Rick Webber on General Hospital during the 70’s and 80’s. According to Robinson’s son, who is also named Chris, “some idiot told my dad that they were valuable and collectors items and the whole thing snowballed from there.” Robinson and his brothers ate at McDonalds to collect “teenie babies” which were a spinoff of the originals. According to Robinson he and his friends at so much fast food from McDonalds they became ill.

In the short documentary “bankrupt by beanies” the elder Robinson admits that the collecting was like “a drug addiction”. Robinson began collecting at the top of the market.

Beanie Inventor Ty Warner

Warner was a failed actor who went to work as a salesman for Dakin, a plush toy maker. He was fired from Dakin for allegedly selling his own creations to customers in competition with Dakin. In 1986 he mortgaged his home and bequest from his father to start Ty, Inc. In 1993 he launched Beanie Babies. At the peak of the Beanie craze, the privately owned Ty Inc. is believed to have earned over $700 million in profits in a year. In September 2013, Warner pled guilty in Federal court to one count of felony tax evasion for failing to report income kept in a secret Swiss bank account for 12 years. In January 2014 he was sentenced to two years of probation and 500 hours of community service. The US Justice Department appealed the sentence to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard argument in September 2014. A decision is pending.

Collecting Victorian Christmas Ornaments With Melanie Thomas

This week on The Collectors Show we talk with Melanie Thomas about collecting Victorian Christmas ornaments. Melanie is a frequent contributor to Antique Trader Magazine and has written an article for Antique Trader magazine about this topic. She and her husband own and operate the Arsenal of the Alleghenies in Gettysburg, PA.

To hear Melanie, go to http://www.webtalkradio.net or iTunes.

Below are portions of an article Melanie wrote for “Antique Trader” magazine. To read the entire article go to:


Like most items still in use today, Christmas tree ornaments have evolved over the decades. From the original ones made from things found in nature to ornate hand blown, leaded glass, the tradition remains a strong one throughout the Christian world. 

This collage of ornaments represents the popularity of Victorian ornaments among Christmas ornament collectors.

This collage of ornaments represents the popularity of Victorian ornaments among Christmas ornament collectors.

For simplicity’s sake, these decorations are divided into four categories: organic items such as dried fruits; spun cotton; die cut paper; and blown glass.As early as 1848, an edition of the London News showed Queen Victoria with her family standing around a decorated tree. Some historians believe the Christmas tree tradition was in the United States as early as the 1700s, brought here by German Hessians, mercenary soldiers hired by the British to quash the upstart American revolutionaries. If they did trim Christmas trees in the 1700s, early American puritan roots would have prohibited frivolity on one of the holiest days of the year, forcing the Hessians to celebrate in private. It would take Queen Victoria to make the decorated tree acceptable and stylish.

The first glass ornaments replicated their earlier counterparts, shaped like fruit and other edibles. As the craft of glass blowing advanced, the molds became more intricate, creating items such as grape clusters and butterflies. Spun glass accented by elaborate threads of silver showcased the craftsman’s skill. Ornaments shaped like birds were a favorite theme, with feathers glued on as wings, glass beads added for eyes and wire tinsel for legs. Because each ornament was handmade, they were all considered one-of-a-kind.

F.W. Woolworth of the famous five-and-dime store chain, brought blown glass German ornaments to the American market in the 1880s. Not impressed at first, Woolworth thought the market for these high-priced gewgaws was miniscule. Urged by his employees, however, he eventually went to Germany to check it out for himself. Finally convinced of their marketability, Woolworth’s Five and Dime stores sold out their first order in just a few weeks. Within 10 years, Woolworth’s supposedly sold $25 million worth of German-made glass ornaments. With the average price between 5 and 10 cents, imagine the millions of ornaments Americans consumed for their Christmas trees.

The start of World War I brought the importation of all German goods to a halt, allowing competitors to fill the void. Japan and Czechoslovakia exported millions of ornaments to the United States, but the quality and attention to detail left something to be desired when compared to the German-made ones.

Early Christmas ornaments are highly sought after by collectors. As with all collectibles, condition and rarity factors are keys in determining value. The intricate spun glass type can easily sell for $200 to $300, but early cotton ornaments can still be found for as little as $25.