Question: How do bottle collectors view the Ezra Brooks variety as opposed to the popular Jim Beam collectibles? --J.T.
Answer: Very favorably. The Brooks firm began issuing collectible bottles about 20 years ago, including a wide variety of subjects from Americana to cartoon characters. The price range has remained relatively reasonable, ranging from under $10 to about $50.
As far as contacting other Brooks bottle collectors, however, the Beam firm had about a decade head start and appears to be much better organized in terms of clubs, which generate collector interest.
Q: How much are old Caruso records worth? --G.N.
A: Our catalogues show Enrico Caruso 78s ranging up to about $60, although a few carried a higher price tag. These were Victor Red Seal pressings recorded between 1903 and the mid-1920s.
Understandably, the sound quality on many of these recordings is poor, given the technology of the time and the wear caused by decades of playing. Some of the later recordings, however, have remarkably good sound and can give the listener some idea of the magic of the Caruso voice.
So precious are these recordings that many collectors are almost loathe to play them except on special occasions for fear of wearing them out.
For record collectors: We've mentioned Rate News (P. O. Box 3171, Pismo Beach, Calif. 93449) in these columns from time to time. Another record collectible publication that we recently received from the East Coast is Pastime (P. O. Box 3758, Trenton, N.J. 08629).
Q: How expensive will it be to add to my Civil War gun collection? Actually, I only have two firearms handed down to me by a family member, and I want to expand if I can afford it. --M.G.
A: You're talking about a major investment. For example, Civil War vintage Colt revolvers have sold at auction for $1,500 and up. Remington handguns also have been sold for several hundred dollars each. Confederate handguns, because of their relative scarcity compared to the above Union-produced examples, can be far more expensive because of their limited production and availability to collectors.
In the Civil War long-arms category, prices also are high, running up to several thousand dollars each, according to auction reports.
Great demand for Civil War weapons and memorabilia keeps prices in a lofty range--which is why many collectors look upon the purchase of firearms from this era as a pretty good investment.
FYI Department: A Collectors Showcase (7014 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood) auction release tells of an unusual personal check recently changing hands for an auction price of $665. The check, in the amount of $25 and dated Nov. 10, 1930, was signed by Stan Laurel for his longtime film colleague, Oliver Hardy. Moreover, Hardy's endorsement appears on the back as well as the stamp of Hal Roach Studios, the release said. "Seems the famous comics were playing poker between takes on the set, and this check represents payment for what Laurel lost to Hardy," it explained.
California chapters of the Cola Clan will host a swap meet March 22-24 at the Holiday Inn, 21333 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance. Telephone (213) 371-3061 or (213) 547-0014.
An antique advertising, toy and doll show is scheduled for the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Feb. 16-17. Admission: $3.
For everyone who has written recently regarding the whereabouts of post card dealers, contact the International Federation of Post-card Dealers, P.O. Box 1765, Manassas, Va. 22110.
Ronald L. Soble cannot answer mail personally but will respond in this column to questions of general interest about collectibles. Do not telephone. Write to Your Collectibles, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.