May 2001

Welcome back to the second edition of our newest feature on We scoured the auction landscape for you and came up with a real jewel. Unfortunately our bid was insufficient and this gem got away but becomes all of ours in the medium of cyber space!!!! And what a jewel this is!!!!

This item came out of Wyandotte, Michigan. It is an advertising prototype for Cunningham's Drug Stores. This plaster car measures a whopping 8" x 8" x 24" and weighs in at an impressive 15 pounds. It is patterned after a late 1930's Cadillac or Lincoln delivery vehicle. On the belly of the vehicle is painted "Job #1942 Overall IL-506". It sports a terrific period green color and graphics encouraging the purchase of bonds. It is in remarkably well preserved condition with only a few of the most minimal chips. No further information is available.

Note the wheels have a flat base. Clearly this is not a toy. At 15 pounds and stationery this was designed as a storefront or countertop display. Apparently it was the prototype from which duplicates were to be made perhaps for distribution to other stores in the Cunningham's chain or for the production of saleable toys.

So why is this our Treasure Of The Month you ask ? Because this item raises a few very important collecting guidelines. Think back to our discussion in Homefront Digest about appraising homefront collectibles. The apparent supply and actual supply of a given collectible is pivottal in determining its value. This prototype car probably has an actual supply of 10 or less and an apparent supply of 1, speaking ultraconservatively. Realistically, the actual supply is probably 1, apparent supply 1. That is just a fancy way of saying that this item is most likely unique. A one-of-a-kind dinosaur that was unearthed and found its way to the free market. It will now disappear into the hands of a collector reducing apparent supply to zero and hopefully will resurface one day when that collector or his estate turns it over.

These one-of-a-kind items are the items that are consistently most expensive but also not only retain their value but increase exponentially. When an item is singularly unique its value is determined by how much it is desired by whatever buyers are engaged. There is really no guideline. 2 or more buyers seeking the same unique item can drive the price to the high heavens limited often by bank account and available credit!!

Other than getting a glimpse at this fabulous item, the take home message from this month's treasure is that the really hardcore collectors seek and are able to identify the rare, unique items when they come up and pounce on them mercilessly. The only way to identify the rarity of these items is to be a student of the supply. We study all the auctions every day evaluating and memorizing what items are coming up. From these long but enjoyable hours comes a true feel for what's out there. So once again we cannot recommend more highly to visit fellow collectors and study their items. Follow your online auctions. Read your magazines and buy the books that collectors write (hint hint!!!). Subscribe to the various mail auctions. Watch our website and scour the web for others. And after awhile you'll notice some things you see a lot, others almost never. It's the "almost nevers" that are the true prizes.

Had we not had so much money out in other auctions our bid would have been much higher. Our 800.00 was not enough to reel this one in. The final bid price was 1236.00 but the winners bid was closer to 2000.00. Our estimated value of this prototype at auction is about 1000.00 with the caveat delineated above that unique items are worth whatever the market will bear.

To the seller of this fabulous item we offer our extreme gratitude for uncovering this item and bringing it to the free market where it has enriched our dreams. And to the astute collector that identified this item as unique, a diamond in the rough, and bid mercilessly we take our hats off to you in admiration and say in a resounding yawp, BRAVO !!!! But rest assured if there's a next time, we'll be watching and our talons will be indeed, wellsprung!!!!

Thanks for coming again to's Treasure Of The Month. We'll see you next month with another fabulous treasure from our collectible safaris.


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