Jim Lowe

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family. Feel free to include what town you live in, what kind of schooling you've had, favorite subjects, and what kind of work you do.

My wife Jennifer and I are both High School teachers in Altoona, PA. I grew up in Altoona and returned after finishing college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have taught American History for the last 16 years. In addition to teaching history, it is the focus of my reading ineterests, my hobbies and sometimes my vacations. I started reading about World War II when I was in sixth grade and have never stopped. I have my parents to thank for taking me to the library every week when I was that age.

2) Are you a collector, historian, preservationist, veteran, enthusiast or other?

I would say I am a historian and a collector.

3) Anything in particular you would like to see on our site?

More collectors and others using the web site as a place to communicate and share stories and information.

4) If you are a collector, how long have you been collecting?

Aprox. Ten Years

5) What are your areas of specialization and subspecialization if any?


6) What is your one favorite item out of the collection if you could save only one from a natural disaster?

Join a Car Sharing Club Poster by Werner Pursell. The image of a man riding alone in a car with a silhouette of Hitler is a classic.

7) Any items you are actively seeking and wish to be contacted should someone happen upon them??

I am always looking for Anti-Axis items particularly the Bassons Tojo ash tray(s) and would still like to find a Victory Sugar Spoon in its box.

8) Do you have things to trade?

Yes, I have anti-axis items I will trade for similar items including postcards, pinbacks and other misc. items as well as other home front items that arent anti-axis.

9) Do you wish to hear from other enthusiasts?


10) Is your collection available for filming or photographing?

Yes, pictures of some of my items have appeared in my local newspaper as well as several of the books on Home Front collectibles.

11) What publications or productions if any have you contributed to?

World War II Home Front Collectibles, Remember Pearl Harbor Collectibles, and America's Warrtiem Scrapbook

12) How do you display your items? What steps do you take to preserve your items?

Most of my items are kept in storage containers so they are not exposed to the light. Paper items are stored in acid free holders. I do have a case to display my favorite 3d items.

13) What is that one DREAM ITEM that you seek and wont stop searching till you find?

The 12 inch anti-axis figures with the bent necks.

14) What is your forecast for the future of Home Front memorabilia with regards to price, investment potential, supply, demand, and collectiblity?

The supply is slowly drying up as the Greatest Generation gets older and sadly many of them are no longer with us. The collectibles of this generation are being sold, auctioned and unfortunately sometimes discarded. Soon the only supply market for these items will be the collectors and prices will increase as do other antiques and collectibles when they age beyond the life of the generation that saw them used daily.

15) How did you begin collecting Home Front memorabilia?

I first purchased an anti-axis envelope cachet at a local antiques market after reading Stan Cohen's V for Victory book and I was hooked. Cohen's book is excellent and would be a great resource for anyone who wants to know more about the events of the American Home Front.

16) How has the area of collecting changed since you started collecting?

I think the greatest change has been Ebay. I used to search for weeks or even months and not find an item except at large collectible shows and now there are so many items available wekly on Ebay it is amazing. In fact so many items are available that it has affected the price based on supply and demand and good bargains are easy to find on Ebay.

17) Is Ebay the only source of items you buy? What other areas do you frequent?

I still enjoy going to antique stores and shops. That feeling of browsing among the artifacts of America's past cant be found anywhere online.

18) How do you think reproductions and fakes impact prices, supply and demand of home front items?

As a teacher, reproductions have a place for educational purposes but should be clearly marked as reproductions. Fakes and counterfeits are deplorable. There is nothing good that reproductions and fakes can bring for collectors in terms of price. Additionally, some collectors not familiar with items that have been reproduced can unknowingly purchase these items as the real thing. The fakes and reproductions link on this website should be frequented by all collectors.

19) Do you think that items that have multiple cross collectible themes have more demand and hence are more expensive?

Yes, when I look at items that are also jewelry, games, toys or comic books. They always seem to bring a higher price because more collectors are interested.

20) Assume you had two identical ashtrays except for the printed graphics. One said V For Victory and the other said V For Victory AND Smack A Jap. In your opinion would the ashtray with the two slogans be worth more than the single slogan assuming all other variables like condition, provenance etc were held constant? Why?

I would say the one with the two slogans is worth more if the slogans would make the item attractive to different types of collectors and would thus increase the demand. By adding a phrase "Smack a Jap" you have a collectible that would appeal to anti-axis collectors as well as those who collect V for Victory items.. When the demand increases and the supply is presumed stable, then the price (value) increases.

21) Similar to above, what if the ashtray said Remember Pearl Harbor instead of Smack A Jap all other things held constant. Would this ashtray be worth more than a single slogan? Why?

Yes it would be worth more than a single slogan as long as the slogan made it appeal to collectors of different categories of Home Front items. If it said V for Victory and Keep em Flying, both patriotic slogans that are similar in their appeal, I dont feel the value changes that much. However, if it the slogan extends the interest in the ashtray to other groups of Home Front collectibles such as Remember Pearl Harbor or something else like British War Relief Society, Buy War Bonds or Join Your Local Civil Defense Council. The value increases and would depend on the combined demand of the collectors of the first category with the second category.

22) What areas of home front collecting do you believe are keystone areas? Lets define a "keystone home front area" as subpopulations of items within the area of WWII home front that have a significant concentration of dedicated collectors so that the demand would be higher for a given item if it had a feature that interested those subpopulations of dedicated collectors significantly. We are not talking about cross collecting demand (like toppers, comics, milk bottles) but only within the area of Home Front specifically.

My ranking of the keystone areas of Home Front collectibles are as follows and is based on the popularity of the items and the general value of collectibles in that category.

  1. Anti-Axis
  2. Remember Pearl Harbor
  3. V for Victory
  4. Sweetheart Jewelry
  5. War Bonds and War Loans
  6. British War Relief
  7. Civil Defense
  8. USO
  9. Rationing and the OPA

23) If the ashtray above had three slogans, lets say V For Victory, Remember Pearl Harbor, and Smack a Jap versus an ashtray that had just V For Victory and Remember Pearl Harbor, would IT be worth more?

No, the value does not change. When you have all sorts of different themes present in a single item. The value will be based on the type of item compared to the content of the phrases.

24) Do you think there is any place or need for a priceguide in the realm of WWII home front collecting? Assume nothing has been published yet.

A price guide does have its place in any area of collectibles including Home Front collectibles. Collectors must however realize it is a guide and not an end all for pricing. Ultimately, supply and demand sets prices.

25) Do you buy books to aid your collecting?

Yes, I buy anything I see on the home front and that includes books about the home front as well as books about home front collectibles.

26) What role do you think a home front priceguide plays in your own personal collecting, if at all? What role do you think they SHOULD play generally speaking?

The price guide gives me a general idea of the value of ideas in terms of buying and selling. However more important to me is how much I want and or like the item.

27) Dig deep and tell us what it is about collecting WWII Home Front in general that excites you, inflames your passion and causes you to commit so much money to its pursuit?

As a history teacher it is a fascinating period in our nations history and one that we are unlikely to see anything like again both for those in the military and those on the home front. Personally, owning items of this great time in history is a fascinating hobby that allows me top be a collector as well as a lifelong learner.

28) For newcomers to the area, what advice can you give regarding collecting Home Front? How should they start? What should they look for? Where should they look? How do they know its period? What should they pay? How should they maintain and preserve their collection? How do they eventually sell it? Is it a good investment?

First, I would suggest either talking to an experienced collector of home front and looking at some of the home front collectibles books that are available to get an idea of what is out there. If that isnt possible, take a peek at www.ww2homefront.com and chat with some collectors there. Home Front collectibles can be found in great numbers on ebay as well as other auctions, flea markets, antique shops and collectibles shows. When it comes to what someone should look for that is guided by their tastes and preferences of indivdual items and naturally their budget. It is important to familiarize oneself with the production of fakes and the blacklight test for paper items in particular. Once again, experienmced collectors are valuable in sharing the experience. Although I dont purchase my home front items as an investment, I dont anticpate the value of items I have purchased to decline nor do I envision a great increase in value rather a subtle increase as we progress further in years from the end of the war. One last thing I would suggest is look into insurance for your collectibles many homeowners insurance providers offer additional policies to cover your collection for a reasonable price. There is also a collectibles insurance company.

29) What will you do with your collection in the end?

Id like to see it preserved but I havent made any official plans as of this time.

30) What is the most expensive Home Front item you can think of?

The bent neck anti axis figures of Hitler, Musolini and Tojo. I saw them sell in auction for nearly $5000.

31) What is the best bargain you have ever gotten on a Home Front item?

There were two I would say are a tie. I got a mint in box Blackout Kit for the home for $2. Another home front collector emailed me when it was over to let me know he was going to bid but he had fallen asleep. I also got the O'Sullivans shoe heel replacement box with the Japanese soldier cutouts for .99 cents.

32) What do you think the most overpriced item(s) is/are in Home Front?

Posters are often overpriced but at the same time you can often find them on ebay underpriced. Pinback buttons are overpriced but I love them as a great collectible. I still wear my Remember Pearl Harbor Three Inch buton every Dec. 7th. Finally, magazine ads are extremely overpriced. You can pay more for an ad than you would the entire magazine these days.

33) What Home Front items do you believe are still the best buys?

The simple items. You can find may things for less than $20 that may not be hunted by the masses but they stil have the same historic value and can bring the same pleasure to a collector as the high dolar items. I bought a simple wall hanging with the American Flag and flip up cards on rationing, salvage and scrap, first aid, and civil defense for $9.99.

34) What part of your collection do you feel is the most complete?

I would say my anti-axis postcards and my anti-axis pinback buttons, but I dont have anything that I feel is complete and with those two collectibles there are always new old items I have never seen appearing.

35) What part of your collection do you feel needs improvement?

My Bassons anti-axis ashtrays. I only have a couple of the seven I know of that exist.

36) What one item that you lost at auction, do you wish you could rebid?

A few years back I knew what the reserve was on an anti-axis ashtray and I passed on it without bidding higher. Nobody met the reserve and the owner decided to keep it. I havent seen one for sale or auction since that day.

37) Are there any items in your collection tht have truly exraordinary provenance ie. tell a great story? Which and what?

I have my Great Aunt's sweetheart jewelry pin that my Great Uncle made for her during WWII. She wore it every day to work in a Sylvania plant making vacuum tubes for the war effort. He made the item while stationed New Guinea in 1943 from metal from a destroyed Japanese aircraft. I also have a picture frame he made for her from spare metal pieves from a B-25 bomber.