September 2002

Welcome to another edition of's Treasure Of The Month. After several months of roaming about thanks to the FBI, we did stumble across an item that has very quickly become one of our favorites.

This trolley car sign was found in the walls of a house being remodeled in the midwest. It was being used as insulation and structural material in a home built in the 1940's. So to conserve resources in the spirit of wartime conservation, 50 or so such signs of all different slogans were nailed into the wall interiors. Much to the surprise of the homeowner who recently was doing some remodeling they magically appeared. He had a hunch they were valuable so he carefully extracted the nails and up they went on ebay. Most had 5 or so duplicates. They had been in the wall for so long and so tightly compressed that the backside of the sign looks like the wood it was nailed to.

This sign measures 16" x 24" and is of fiberboard composition. It advertises Burma Shave and features hitler listening to a civilian talking. "Loose lips sink ships. Don't talk today. If you must talk step up and say Burma Shave". This is a very valuable sign for several reasons. Firstly, it is a mega cross-collectible. It crosses the domains of Barber shop and Burma Shave collectors, antiaxis, propaganda and trolley car/mass transportation collectors and war bond/finance collectors. Secondly, Burma Shave was active during the war but did not produce a ton of antiaxis advertisements. Antiaxis/Burma Shave collectibles remain one of the rarest and most sought after of ALL Burma Shave items. Thirdly, one of the classic slogans from WWII was "Loose Lips Sink Ships". Ironically this slogan ended up on VERY FEW homefront collectibles. In fact I can name less than 10. And yet of the very few items that bears this slogan, this item is truly the shining star of them all. Finally, the provenance of this item having been used as wall insulation in a house built in the 1940's adds value.

Burma Shave was a product of the Burma Vita company and came to be known by its unique method of advertising not previously seen in the annals of American advertising. They posted a series of signs along roadsides throughout the U.S. which when read in sequence, made a rhyme. They had contests and competitions in order to generate slogans and offered all sorts of prizes. Burma Shave became a household name following their vigorous and novel advertising campaign and is one of the great success stories. The popularity of one such road, Route 66, contributed greatly to the Burma Shave mystique.

Inside the trolley car you would have seen this sign lining the headliner or the various panels between rows and seats. Trolley car signs are fairly uncommon but do crop up. They fetch closer to 100-150.00 depending on topic and graphics.

While Burma Vita has long disappeared and had been bought several times over by other entrepreneurs, their legacy continues. This great trolley car sign having been unearthed and brought to the free market by an entrepreneur in the spirit of the Burma Vita company, is a truly fabulous find. Because of its heavy cross collectibility, and being one of the rare Antiaxis-Burma Shave pieces it fetches more at auction than most of the other trolley car signs save a few of the coke pieces. We value this great homefront piece at 350.00 in its present condition which includes a few nail holes and the wood grain back. So if you're lucky enough to stumble across one of these we recommend you bid heavy. Its one of the rarer birds you'll see in the forest!!!

So back into the Land Cruiser we go on auction safari in search of that big game homefront trophy that you crave. We'll see you next month same time, same channel. Until then watch out for those lions in the auction bushes and we'll see you then.

Remember Pearl Harbor and 911.


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