Guest Column: Collector finds no smoking pays off

Guest Column: Collector finds no smoking pays off

By Anita Gold

Q. I have some old unopened cigarette packs. How can I find out if they are of any value? —George Wilson, Munster, Ind.

A. The value of such packs depends on their brands, from when they date, their condition, and desirability. To check out or to sell full, unopened packs, send a clear photo or description of the pack or packs, stating their condition and brand names, to the Cigarette Pack Collectors’ Association c/o Richard Elliott, 61 Searle St., Georgetown, MA 01833-2213. Enclose a long self-addressed stamped envelope for reply, or membership/newsletter information, or phone Elliott at 978-352-7377. E-mail to, or visit CPCA’s Web site at

If you have a full pack of Philip Morris cigarettes in a metal container with a sliding top that looks the same as the paper package with the exception of being metal, it would have a value of $150 in mint condition, according to Elliott. Such metal packs were autographed by Johnny Morris, the little hotel bellhop who promoted Philip Morris cigarettes by giving away the tin packs inscribed with his signature.

Little Johnny Morris, whose real name was Johnny Roventini, was born Aug.15, 1910, and, as an adult, stood 43 inches in height and weighed 59 pounds. He was discovered in the New Yorker Hotel in 1933 where he became the world’s first living trademark. He died on Nov. 30, 1998, at age 88, never having smoked himself, and is best remembered as the much adored little bellhop holding up a silver tray in a hotel lobby shouting “Call for Philip Maw-reeees,” which left an endearing and unforgettable image in our hearts and minds.

Over the years, Johnny Roventini (as Johnny Morris) autographed a great many items, including hundreds of Philip Morris packs. Information on the beloved Johnny Roventini can be found by searching his name on the Web.

“Collector finds no smoking pays off” hardcover edition, was originally $49.95, but due to a huge overprint, is now $10 plus $3.50 postage from L-W Book Sales, P.O. Box 69, Gas City, IN 46933. Indiana residents add 6 percent sales tax. Or phone (800) 777-6450 toll-free to order.

Q. Where can I find information on James Dean memorabilia and movies? —Polly Anderson, Wilkes Barre, Pa.

A. Movie star collectors and James Dean worshippers will fall madly in love with the gorgeous “James Dean Collector’s Guide and Price Guide” by David Loehr and Joe Bill. The guide pictures thousands of items in full color, and includes stunning photos of Dean and all the other movie stars that appeared in his films, including Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and other “giant” stars. The guide includes the largest collection of its kind. The guide is available in all-color, 8×11-inch, 384-page format.

Q. How can I find out the value of basketball cards that my uncle collected and left to me and my brother? —Andy Maxwell, Virginia Beach, Va.

A. You’ll jump up and down when you see the hefty prices of many such cards and other basketball collectibles command (including autographs, figures, and sought—after memorabilia) that can be found pictured, described, and priced, in the “2003 Standard Catalog of Basketball Cards—6th Edition” by the editors of Tuff Stuff Magazine, which includes 155,000 cards accurately priced, more than 2,000 photos, and 3,600 sets from top manufacturers from 1948 to the present. The catalog is available in a large 384-page edition with a chronological index, and separate basketball hall of fame, basketball retired-player, and basketball active-player autograph price guides, as well as a basketball figures price guide, for $25.95 postpaid from Krause Publications 700 E. State St., Iola, Wis. 54990-0001. Or, phone (800) 258-0929 toll-free to order. To buy, sell, or consign for auction, any sports-related items, call Bill “Sportsmaster” Mastro at 630-472-1200.

Q. How can I find out the value of old fishing gear including lures, rods, hooks, and related items found in an old cabin we bought as an investment? —Chuck Sanders, Green Bay, Wis.

A. Write fishing items expert, collector, historian, and evaluator Dan Basore, 3S375 Herrick Road, Warrenville, IL 60555. Enclose photos or full descriptions of all and any fishing items you have, including any names or marks they may have, or call Basore at 1-800-347-4525 toll-free to find out what your items are worth. Basore buys and pays for anything old or interesting that’s fishing connected, and especially wants any old fishing lures (and their boxes for which he pays extra) as well as pre-level wind reels marked with such names as Heddon, Chubb, Foss, Hardy, Marshall Fields, Talbot, Mills, Meek, Sage, Winchester, Ulsa, Flegel, Conroy, Jamison, Snyder, Coxe, Eppinger, Billing Hurst, Kosmic, Milan, Horton Manufacturing Co., Leonard, Shipley, Orvis, Redifor, and Vom Hofe. Basore travels to buy items, should you care to call him at his above toll-free number, to set up a come-see-and-pay appointment, or he’ll instruct you how to ship such items to him.

Upcoming events: The World’s Largest International Vintage Poster Fair, featuring thousands of original vintage posters for sale from the 1890s to 1980s brought by 25 exhibitors from the United States and Western Europe, will be March 14-16 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph in Chicago. For specific show hours, preview, and ticket information, phone (800) 856-8069 toll-free, or visit

The 34th Annual Winnetka Antiques Show, featuring fine and fabulous, country and formal American, English and Continental furniture, Native American and Shaker artifacts, antique jewelry, silver, folk art, pewter, paintings, porcelain, prints, old books, quilts, rugs, and other fine antiques offered by more than 50 of the best dealers, opens March 6 with a preview party, and continues March 7-9 at the Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., in Winnetka, Ill. For specific show hours, ticket information, and participating antiques dealers, call 847-446-0537, or visit

Write Anita Gold, P.O. Box 597401, Chicago, IL 60659; enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.

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