Antiques & Collectibles: World War II newspaper may have some value


Question: We found the pictured newspaper, once owned by my grandfather, while cleaning out our house. He was stationed with the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor during the 1941 Japanese attack. We would like to know if the paper is an original 1st Extra edition or a reprint and if it has value. - M.F., Little Egg Harbor

Answer: Among the most collectible World War II newspapers is the eight-page, 1st Extra edition of the Dec. 7, 1941, Honolulu Star-Bulletin. One of the first U.S. newspapers to report Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the Star-Bulletin issued four editions featuring eye witness accounts throughout that day.

Reprints of the rare 1st Extra edition abound. Within a week, copies were sold to the public as historical mementos, many purchased by servicemen posted in Hawaii during the attack. Over decades, reprints have been offered as souvenirs at various tourist destinations including the Arizona Memorial, other museums and Hawaiian hotel gift shops. It is estimated tens of thousands of 1st Extra edition reprints were produced.

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Experts who buy, sell and collect old newspapers advise that authentic 1st Extra editions show an obvious printing ink smudge between the "A" and "R" in the WAR! headline as well as an irregular smudge line over the paper's flag.

They also note the folio at the top of each authentic 1st Extra edition inside page is not dated, while reprints are dated "Dec. 7, 1941."

Valued at $1,800 to $2,000 in 1995, authentic 1st Extra editions graded Very Fine now fetch $3,200 to $3,800 and a cropped example graded Fine recently sold for $2,500. Since reprints produced within a week of the attack have earned as much as $400 and old souvenir reprints bring $15 to $50, yours may have some value.

Question: My boxed 3 1/2- by 2 1/2-inch raised profile bust of Abraham Lincoln is made of macerated U.S. currency. It is mounted on a 6 1/2- by 3 1/2-inch black cardboard plaque with a metal ring hanger. Framed gold text under it reads, "Made from old and worn-out paper money destroyed at the U.S. Treasury. This figure has an estimated value in old bills of $1,000.00 Washington D.C." Information is appreciated. - T.C., Salem

Answer: Between the mid-1870s and 1928, worn and mutilated currency was returned to the U.S. Treasury where it was reduced to paper pulp. By the 1890s, the pulp was sold to contractors such as the National Currency Souvenir Co. where it was used to create somewhat crude busts of prominent Americans and replicas of national monuments. The early Washington D.C. souvenirs were identified by paper stickers with old script-type printing.

Your more refined, high-relief profile plaque, made from the turn of the last century through its first quarter, attracts folks who are interested in U.S. currency collectibles as well as collectors of objects associated with Abraham Lincoln. It presently brings $125 to $200, when near-mint to mint and boxed.

Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist whose consulting firm, Treasures Unlimited, is based in southern New Jersey. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email:

Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.

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