The smart collector: Folding bed has value as a curiosity, but no collector market really exists

2013-06-16T00:00:00Z The smart collector: Folding bed has value as a curiosity, but no collector market really existsDanielle Arnet Tribune Media Services Smart Collector Arizona Daily Star

Q: My mother bought this folding bed in the 1970s. It's marked "Bednet," but I can't find any info online. Is it a Murphy bed?

A: The bed seen in images sent is, for several reasons, not a Murphy bed. Technically, it's a portable folding bed.

True Murphy beds are named for inventor William Murphy, who filed his first patent around 1900. They are marked as such.

Many have seen vaudeville routines on TV and in film featuring a Murphy bed in humorous situations. In reality, falling beds were no joke.

Folding beds were around even before Murphy and were sold through popular retailers. His innovations were technical and included a pivot mechanism.

The term "Murphy bed" became so common and the technology copied so widely that the name no longer has patent protection. A close analogy is how Frigidaire became a synonym for refrigerator.

The original company, www.murphybedcompany.com, still exists.

Like the original, the reader's folding bed has wire mesh to support a mattress. And like the original, the bed works fold into a wall-hugging case. When opened and the bed is extended, one side of the case becomes a head, the other a support for the springs.

We could not find any info on the maker. So many companies made folding beds that anything but the original is hard to place.

There is no collector market for the beds, except as curiosities.

Q: Any info on my Mutt and Jeff comic book No. 8? I bought it 40 years ago for $100. It is in pretty good condition. How can I sell it?

A: To clue readers, the comic book written by Bud Fisher dates from 1922. It predates the Golden Age of Comics (the late 1930s to early/mid-1950s). A dealer might call the reader's comic "Platinum Age."

On a less glowing note, smart collectors know that when something is produced in a series, buyers pant for the first. Following this thread, a Mutt and Jeff book No. 1 would bring top dollar.

Sometimes, collectors go for the last in a series; it's like bookends. Books in the middle sell for far less.

Another general rule in collecting is that people buy what they remember from their childhood. That means fewer potential buyers for a 91-year-old comic. Plus, when our reader bought his comic in the '70s, prices were up and very early comics were hot.

In short, tastes change. There will be a buyer for that comic and it will probably be a serious collector. But the pool is smaller. It's all about supply and demand.

We found three copies of the same book listed on eBay starting at $12.98 to $92. Online databases show a recent sale on eBay for $90 and one for sale on www.abebooks.com for $69. In contrast, book No. 1 sold on eBay last year for $699.

To sell, I suggest online because that's where motivated buyers shop. Alternatives are a local auction with online bidding or a local comics dealer you trust. Be sure to check out the pros and cons of all routes.

MORE: We recently had the fun of participating in a podcast hosted by Martin Willis for Antique Auction Forum, www.antiqueauctionforum.com

Check out the site: It has a backlist of interesting conversations.

Taped in audio using round-robin format, the podcast featured several lights of the antiquing world, including Harry Rinker, Al and Susan Klein Bagdade, and Sally Schwartz, the dynamic founder and driving force behind Chicago's busy Randolph Street Market. The topic (and take that loosely) was the current state and possible future of collecting.

COLLECTOR QUIZ

Q: Mutt and Jeff was the first continually published six-day-a-week comic strip. It did not start with that name. What was the original name? Bonus points for the years it started and ended.

A: "A. Mutt" started in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1907. The strip was retired in 1982.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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