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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Promotional Figure; wood composition; 1942; 5 foot 5 inches sold for $6,325. Photo courtesy of Hake’s Americana & Collectibles.
“Faster than a speeding Bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

If you grew up in the ‘50s you know exactly who I’m talking about--the man of steel, Superman!

Superman has used his superpowers for over 70 years now to fight bad guys, defend truth and justice--not to mention the American way.

What mother wouldn’t be thrilled to have her daughter bring Superman home to dinner?

What newspaper, if they knew his real identity, wouldn’t be overjoyed to have Clark Kent on staff?

Call me naïve. But to me, there was an element of reality about Superman. He may have started out as a comic book character, but like Batman he grew larger-than-life.

This strange visitor from another planet carried on his one-man crusades like the biblical character Moses. Fighting off the Lex Luthor’s of the world, saving the damsels in distress, he demonstrated greatness again and again right before our very eyes.

Come on. How many of you donned a towel at some point in your youth and jumped off the nearest armchair in pursuit of invisible crooks?

What I especially appreciate is that the strong man in tights we’ve all come to love was dreamed up by two high school boys. Talk about revelation.

Superman came to Jerry Siegel in a vision during a sleepless summer night in Cleveland in 1934 after his graduation from Glenville High School. His buddy, turned cartoonist Joe Shuster, gave Superman life with his pen.

“I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn't know I existed or didn't care I existed," Siegel said. "It occurred to me: what if I had something going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around or something like that?"

Siegel turned his adolescent lovesickness into the most enduring superhero of all time. With his undying virtue, humility and just plain decency, who couldn’t love this character?

Superman showed up for the first time in the 1938 DC Comic series Action Comics. Since then he has moved on to movies, books and cartoon shows, not to mention t-shirts, action figures, statues and more.

The 1938 comic is considered the first in the Golden Age of comics. If by chance you stumble upon a copy of the first issue in near mint condition in the attic, it could be worth up to $400,000.

The problem is most of us loved our comic books and swapped them around so much they ended up looking like litter box liners. Such is life.

What we’re left with is an endless assortment of other Superman stuff to collect like the wooden figure produced by the Ideal Novelty & Toy Company in 1941. Granted, the figurines and store displays aren’t in the same league as the Golden Age comics but they’re still collectible.

On Jan. 29, 2008, Hake’s Americana & Collectibles in York, Pa., featured a selection of Superman collectibles in its auction. Looking through the catalog was like digging through my childhood toy box. Here are some current values.


Paint Set; pair; by Kenner’s; colorful blister card contains paints; 1966; 8 ½ inches by 11 inches; $316.

Krypto-Raygun; battery operated; made by Daisy; 7 inches long; $383.

Pennant; felt; issued by clothing stores; includes full figure of flying Superman; 3 ¼ inches by 11 ¾ inches; $518.

Wood Jointed Figure; Ideal Novelty & Toy Company; 1940; 13 inches tall; $920.

Secret Chamber Ring; premium for the Superman Defense Club milk program; cost 10 cents and two bottle caps; 1941; $4,313.

Promotional Figure; wood composition; designed to promote Superman DC Comics to distributors and retailers; 1942; 5 foot 5 inches; $6,325.

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