Dear Old Man:
I am a collector of the Golden Age of Radio promotional ephemera. “Sky King,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Amos and Andy,” Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and the vaudevillians Ted Lewis, Sophie Tucker and Ed Wynn. I have sent you a photo of a not perfect Ed Wynn’s Fire Chief mask, which I love. Can you tell me about it, and does it have any value because of the damage? AW
At 84, I can remember sitting in front of our Philco radio and listening to Sky King and Amos and Andy. I not sure whether it was the script writers or the actors or maybe it was a combination of both, but we sure did “sit on the edge of our seats,” listening. I guess good memories are wonderful to have. Now to your Fire Chief mask.
Isaiah Edwin Leopold (November 1886-June 1966) was born in Philadelphia, Pa. Son of Jewish immigrants, he left home early because he wanted to be in show business and was afraid of causing sorrow to his mother and father.
He performed in vaudeville and in the Ziegfeld Follies and was famous for using strange onstage props. The props included carrying on stage an 11-foot pole for people he would not touch with a 10-foot pole or a windshield wiper for people who love to eat grapefruit.
His character was the “perfect fool” dressed on stage in clownish costumes and unusual head dresses. Wynn’s Texaco Radio Show was on NBC radio 1933-1935.
Your Fire Chief Mask was a premium in 1935. The mask, for being paper and 86 years old, is not in bad condition considering only a torn right temple. I am guessing on this one, but I think $50 is fair market value on eBay and $75 or even $100 in a specialty ephemera shop. By the way, I too love ephemera and it’s a lot of fun to collect.
Ed Tuten is the executive secretary of the New England Appraisers Association and can be reached by phone or by writing 901-216-7070 or 6973 Crestridge Rd., Memphis, Tn 38119 Please include pictures.