BLAST FROM THE PAST: COLLECTING VINTAGE WRESTLING MEMORABILIA

It appears that as a new member I’m allowed to post. I haven’t watched WWE since 2005 when my son lost interest and we stopped going to shows and following the game. So, I figured that I would just start a topic based on talking about the history of the Golden Age (1950 to 1965) and the colorful memorabilia that the game has produced through the years.

If no one objects I’ll periodically post some photos of memorabilia and discuss its significance during that era. I was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn in the heart of Capitol Wrestling territory and watched wrestling as a rabid fan from 1958 to 1965. Between 1966 and 1970 I slowly drifted away from game altogether only to return when my son picked up the wrestling bug in 1999. We went to myriad WWF, WCW, and indy shows from 1999 to around 2005 when his interest waned.

I will warn you that some of my opinions do not coincide with those of other “old timers,” especially regarding Bruno Sammartino and the early years of the WWWF. Be that as it may, I was there, so you will be getting a first hand account whether you agree or not.

For the sake of creating a starting point and continuity, I want to post photos of the “Parrot Cave” some of which were inadvertently posted in another thread.

Molly Holly and her mom stopped by last November to check out the "Parrot Cave."

There’s another (smaller) room with material and a hallway. I’ll post photos of those in this thread over the weekend or next week. In the meantime, I’ll give you all time to digest this. lol

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This is amazing. I think in one of the other posts you mentioned you were married. What does your wife and Son think about your collection?

My wife’s a fan of WWE but there’s no way she would let me collect so much.

The only thing I have is a couple of Rob Schamberger pictures and the programs from WM30 and 32. What I’ve always wanted is a replica of the Attitude era WWF title with signatures of the champions of that era. I see fans with similar belts at shows and am just in awe.

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My wife is departed and my son has a collector’s mentality, albeit not as severe as mine. When we were going to the matches he got into collecting MOC wrestling action figures (see attached photo). Now that he’s married with two kids of his own I am kind of the keeper of the flame. But, he is well aware of the historic and monetary value of the collection.

The good news is that I made him aware (as much as possible) of how wrestling was in the territorial days. When he was 11 or 12 I showed him a video of the Rogers/O’Connor title switch at Comiskey Park (June 30, 1961) that broke all attendance records with an attendance of 38,622. Since he was brought up on Stone Cold, 'Taker, Kane, The Rock, etc. I expected him to watch for five minutes and get bored. I was amazed that he sat for 35 minutes without moving from the TV screen. The he really knocked me for a loop when he said, "Pop, so some of the matches were for real in your day."

I had impressed upon him that wrestling was prearranged and that statement was a huge compliment to the icons of the Golden Age of Wrestling. Out of the mouths of babes.

Speaking of babies, when my granddaughters come over to visit or are dropped off for me to baby sit I have to barricade off two thirds of my townhome. LOL At 2 1/2 and 4 years old they can be unintentionally destructive!

My son’s old room.

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Awesome room brother

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Your Parrot is beautiful adding beauty to the memorabilia.

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COLLECTING THE GOAT TAG TEAM - THE FABULOUS KANGAROOS

It was the arch-villain Graham Brothers, Dr. Jerry and Eddie, who originally caught my imagination and drew me into wrestling fandom back in 1958. However, after they broke up around 1960 The Fabulous Kangaroos quickly became my all-time favorite tag team relegating the Grahams to #2.

The original 'Roos team consisting of Al Costello and Roy Heffernan with manager Wild Red Berry was formed by Costello in 1957 and remained together until Heffernan left to return to Australia in 1965. The second incarnation was a short lived union between Costello and Englishman Ray St. Clair in 1966. The team only lasted for six months or so before breaking up. The third incarnation of the 'Roos proved to be as long lasting as the original when Al brought in American Don Kent.

Al Costello was not only a consummate wrestler and showman, he was a master marketer. If not the first, the original 'Roos team was one of the first to use entrance music. Younger fans are probably not aware that back in the day there was no entrance music like WWE has today. Dressed in their Aussie military jackets and hats carrying large wooden boomerangs, Costello and Heffernan would march behind Wild Red Berry and their banner to the tune of Australia’s unofficial national anthem - “Waltzing Matilda.”

One of Al’s most successful marketing ploys was the creation of cardboard boomerangs that he and Roy tossed into the crowd during the introductions to their matches. These were not available for purchase and the lucky fans who managed to get a cardboard boomerang had a rare and unique item. It should be mentioned that Costello got the idea from another heel - Gorgeous George Wagner. Gorgeous George’s persona was one of a “dandy” or “fop” who would throw bobby pins to the crowd. Ricki Starr also copied Wagner and enhanced his blatant sissy persona by throwing pairs of mini-ballet slippers to the crowd.

AL COSTELLO AND ROY HEFFERNAN (photos from the net)

ROOs’ MEMORABILIA IN MY COLLECTION

Cardboard Boomerangs

Top to Bottom: Costello/Heffernan; Costello/St. Clair; Costello/Kent; Costello/Kent/Manager Crybaby Canon

Costello/Heffernan, circa 1960

Costello/St. Clair, circa 1966

Costello/Kent, circa 1970

Costello/Kent/manager Canon, circa 1973

Top to Bottom: Extremely rare cardboard boomerang created and used by Roy Heffernan for a short period of time when he returned to Australia to wrestle as single in 1966; 1973 boomerang used by Costello, Kent, and Canon as a Christmas card sent to Roy Shire; 1959 Costello/Heffernan boomerang signed by Wild Red Berry;

The original 'Roos - Costello/Heffernan, original vintage 8x10 promo, circa 1960. Note the misspelling of the word “Kangarroos.” This was typical for back in the day.

Costello/St. Clair, original vintage 8x10 promo, circa 1966

Costello/Kent, original vintage 8x10 promo, circa 1970; cutout piece of Al’s ring jacket, circa 1970.

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you have some of the coolest collection of wrestling items I have ever seen. Not to mention you knowledge of your items is great.

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This is pretty outstanding. I had a pretty sick DVD collection at one point but it pales in comparison to this. Job well done.

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First let me say that this is an amazing collection. It is easy to see the respect and devotion you have for this memorabilia.

Secondly, please continue to share with us. This is a great way to invite us in, show off your collection and educate us on a era I don’t think too many of us know about.

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COLLECTING FRED KOHLER’S CHICAGO PROMOTION

Despite having been born and raised in Mondt/McMahon Capitol Wrestling territory, I am a HUGE fan of promoter Fred Kohler and his Chicago/Mid-West territory.

Kohler virtually took over and controlled the Chicago/Mid-West market by the early 1940s and promoted some of the greatest shows wrestling has ever seen up until 1964. By 1965 he sold out and left the game.

Even though he had his problems with the NWA and its perennial president, Sam Muchnick, Kohler had one of the most important territories and actually became the NWA’s president in 1961. That was the year he and Vince McMahon, Sr. put together the NWA title switch in Comiskey Park that made Nature Boy Buddy Rogers the NWA’s first heel champ and made an attendance record of 38,662 that stood for over two decades.

I had an article printed in the 2017 PWHF yearly induction program/magazine which explains Kohler’s use of his programs in marketing and the variations the collector should be aware of. Below is the original text and some photos.

THE ART OF WRESTLING MARKETING: THE FLYERS/PROGRAMS OF FRED KOHLER’S CHICAGO PROMOTION

By Mike Tereshko

Professional wrestling has provided us with some of the most aesthetically pleasing works of art in the form of advertising posters, broadsides, programs, and flyers. Some of the most beautiful of these were the flyer type programs produced by Fred Kohler’s promotion in Chicago in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These flyer/programs were printed up for Kohler’s wrestling shows in Comiskey Park, the Chicago International Amphitheatre, Marigold Arena, Wrigley Field, and the Chicago Coliseum.

The collector of these beautiful Kohler creations should be aware that the flyer/program for each individual show usually had four different variations. I have broken down the variations as follows:

TYPE I – EVENT FLYER/PROGRAM
The flyer/program sold at the wrestling show itself was called the “event program.” This program had a serial number on the lower right corner of the reverse side indicating where it stood in the total number of programs sold starting with 1, 2…through the maximum number for a sold out house.

TYPE II – FLYER/PROGRAM SOLD OR GIVEN AWAY AT PUBLIC VENUES PRIOR TO THE SHOW
The flyer/program that was sold or given away at various public venues prior to the actual day of the wrestling show were exactly the same as the TYPE I event flyer program, EXCEPT there was no serial number on the lower right corner of the reverse side.

TYPE III – SUBSCRIPTION FLYER/PROGRAM
The subscription flyer/program was mailed out to subscribers a few weeks prior to the show’s date. It was exactly the same as the TYPE II flyer program. However, in addition to not having a serial number on the reverse side it had a large blank space with a Bulk Postage Rate and the subscriber’s name and address typed in on the top left corner of the front side.

TYPE IV – SUBSCRIPTION FLYER /PROGRAM
This was simply a TYPE III subscription flyer/program that was a left over and was never mailed out. It did not have a name and address typed in the blank space with the Bulk Postage Rate on the top left corner of the front side.

TYPE I – EVENT FLYER/PROGRAM SOLD AT THE SHOW

TYPE II – FLYER/PROGRAM WITHOUT SERIAL NUMBER ON REAR SIDE DISTRIBUTED AT VENUES PRIOR TO SHOW

TYPE III – SUBSCRIPTION FLYER/PROGRAM MAILED TO SUBSCRIBERS PRIOR TO THE SHOW

TYPE IV – SUBSCRIPTION FLYER/PROGRAM LEFT OVER AND NOT ADDRESSED

Holy cow, that’s an impressive collection of The Fabulous Kangaroos memorabilia.