Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Every now and then some Milton Caniff-related auctions come up that include rare and unusual items.  Here are a few recent ones:

Milton Caniff did not have a lot of time to do special drawings for everyone that asked.  There was just too much demand and he had a strip to get out.  Early on he solved this by having prints of different characters which he would then personalize and sign.  Sometimes these prints were black and white, sometimes he would hand color them.  For a time in the '40s he had pre-printed color prints that he would send out.  The drawing above is completely original, not a print, and hand colored.  He clearly took his time with this one, as there's nothing "sketchy" about it.  A really exquisite piece and one I'm jealous not to own. 

This is a more typical specialty request, but also a little unusual in that it is poster-sized.  The drawing of Steve is a print and Caniff added in the word balloons, lettering and dedication.  I couldn't find any information on the 9094th, possibly a now-defunct Air Force Reserve unit.  There was an early jet aerobatic team called the Skyblazers, a forerunner and contemporary of the Thunderbirds, but I'm not sure if the reference is connected.  I'd be glad to hear from any Air Force guys on fleshing this out.

They don't get more unusual than this one.  Hand-painted ties of Caniff's Miss Lace character.  These ties were hand painted by Dorothy Hagan.  There is a typed statement above the ties that reads:"Miss Lace - The design on these ties was created and copyrighted by Milton Caniff (creator of Terry and the Pirates) for Squadron 41 for the A.F.A. Conventions of 1950, 1951, & 1952." 

So, who knows if Ms. Hagan just made them for her husband, or there are more ties out there, or perhaps they were some type of prize.  I think they are well done, particularly the green dress which is spot on Caniff.

This shows you the growing popularity of "Terry & the Pirates" in the early years.  Just three years into the strip and it has it's own board game.   I'm not sure how to play, but the board looks kind of complicated.  I'm not sure who did the box art,  but the art on the board itself looks like it was taken from the strip (or redrawn fairly accurately).  The game was manufactured by Whitman in 1937 for the Famous Artists Syndicate and is Whitman product #2181.  "Terry" was a Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate strip, so I'm not sure what the Famous Artists Syndicate was.  Was it possibly a licensor for comic strip properties? Looking for any help with that answer.

Quaker Oats was the sponsor of the "Terry & the Pirates" radio program in the mid-1940s.  Above is a promotional postcard from their Puffed Wheat Sparkies Jingle Contest.  This was one of two postcards sent to contest entrants.  This card depicts six character headshots - Burma, Terry Lee, Dragon Lady, Pat Ryan, Connie and Flip Corkin.  These could be ordered separately as 8x10 color prints.  A set of prints (below) just sold at auction last week for $120.


Jim Bennett said...

I have four Caniff sketches, pen and ink with water coloring, from about 1941. They show Terry, Burma, the Dragon Lady, and Captain Blaze. They were given to my father when he worked at the Daily News. Size wise, they are about 24 " high by 18 " wide. There are some condition issues with the Captain Blaze but they are being repaired by a prominent paper conservator.

Do you have any idea of their value ? If not, who might ?

Matt Tauber said...

Jim, I'd really like to see them, if you have scans - . Typically he would hand color prints. If that was the case I'd say 800 - 1200. I've never seen a Captain Blaze print, though. So, if they were true originals, drawn, inked & hand-colored, it's a toughie. 1500 - 2000 maybe.

Jim Bennett said...

Matt, sorry it took so long to get back to you but I have not yet received the repaired pieces from the conservator. I am supposed to get them on Friday. The conservator Alexandra Von Hawk has told me that the pieces are not prints, but rather original pen and ink drawings that were hand colored with water color paints. I don't have a digital camera and I'm still trying to find someone who does and can take photos to send you.