Hinda Wassau Burlesque Memorabilia

Value (2011) | $3,500 Auction$4,500 Auction
Watch  

GUEST:
Hinda Wassau is the one who actually started this strip in 1924 by having an accident on stage, and it just went on from there.

APPRAISER:
Now, how did you know Hinda?

GUEST:
Hinda passed away in 1980, and I had met her husband at the racetrack, and he used to tell me stories which I thought were unbelievable, and I would go down to the Library of Congress and check them out, and he gave me some of her jewelry and so forth. And he was just a friend, he was an older gentleman that had no family. And then when he did pass away in 1993 is when I had to clean up his apartment, and there was the suitcase with all of the costumes.

APPRAISER:
Now I have to say, if you're looking at this costume, it really looks more like a schoolmarm's costume than someone who was in burlesque or exotic dancing.

GUEST:
Very true.

APPRAISER:
But when you look more closely, I find it fascinating. You pull this over, these are the actual snaps, right, that work right here. And this just keeps snapping away. And that's what she would do on stage, she would just snap snap snap.

GUEST:
Until it fell, yes.

APPRAISER:
I love this headline. "Hinda Headed For Films? Hail Dream Comes True." But she never did, she never made it out of the theater.

GUEST:
They wanted her to go out there in California, make the pictures, but the pictures never did materialize. And she continued dancing until she was in her '60s.

APPRAISER:
Now, these items you brought, tell us just a little bit about these.

GUEST:
This was a watch of hers, and it's considered a 1950 Gruen, and I refer to it as a doctor's watch.

APPRAISER:
Because it has this moving second hand that the doctors could look at easily that would help them gauge blood pressure, time out blood pressure.

GUEST:
Oh!

Now this ring here, it actually would fit anybody's hand because it opens up... And it fits around a finger and then you snap it.

APPRAISER:
Wow, very nice.

GUEST:
So that's that one.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
And this belonged to Sally Rand, and Sally Rand had borrowed money from Hinda, so she gave her the ring and said, "Well, when I get the money and pay you back, then we'll go ahead and you can give me my ring," and she never paid her back. She's sort of a forgotten entertainer.

APPRAISER:
Very true. Burlesque has been around since the 1860s, but the '20s brought about really the golden era of burlesque and of stripping, thanks to Hinda, thanks to Sally Rand, thanks to Gypsy Rose Lee, because they all were the ones who came on stage in revues such as Billy Rose's or Minsky's in New York and traveled also across the country and really brought burlesque to the masses. Radio and film were making such inroads into entertainment. That was vaudeville.

GUEST:
That's right.

APPRAISER:
They had to really bring burlesque sort of out of the back rooms and bring it to center stage. So she was dancing during the heyday. We're going to go through value. This costume, Sandy, I would put an auction estimate on of about $400 to $600.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The ring, we can't prove whether Sally Rand pawned it or not. That was a ring that was made in the 1940s. I did check with my jewelry colleagues, and that ring today, you're looking at probably about $150 to $250.

GUEST:
Gold value.

APPRAISER:
Exactly. And this, of course, is a buckle ring, and you're looking at about $200 to $250.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The watch is worth about $2,500, so if you put the entire archive together, I would put an estimated auction value of $3,500 to $4,500.

GUEST:
Okay, thank you, Lee.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Leila Dunbar Appraisals & Consulting, LLC
Washington, DC
Appraised value (2011)
$3,500 Auction$4,500 Auction
Event
Pittsburgh, PA (August 13, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Material
Gold

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