Treasures in a trifle

By Justin Boron

Picayune fascination tumbles out of Jeffrey Armistead's pockets and closets.

On a quiet day, when the 41-year old isn't working heavy machinery, he pulls from his jean pants trinkets like an old fashioned loupe or an Atlanta transit coin for the street cars.

There isn't much value to the items other than their keepsake, Armistead says.

He said he picked up the transit coin off the sidewalk.

"I thought it was a dime," Armistead said.

But he said he has high hopes for some of the things that he happens upon in old barns, garage sales, and thrift stores.

The avid rummager said he thinks he is onto something big with an old, yellowed piece of newspaper he found recently for 50 cents at a yard sale.

The prized possession is a 1908 New York Herald comic strip called "Little Nemo in Slumberland."

The story by the famous graphic illustrator Winsor McCay was a comic strip that ran regularly in newspapers from 1905 to 1913.

It exists today mostly through reprints and an animated 1992 movie co-written by Ray Bradbury, who is most famous for his novel "Fahrenheit 451" and a short story anthology named "The Martian Chronicles.

The comic's story, told in the weekly in the paper, takes place in the fantastic dream world of a young boy named Nemo.

Its humorous, color illustrations held an undercurrent of social commentary, according to Fantagraphics' Web site, which sells reprints of the comics.

Armistead said he hasn't gotten his strip officially authenticated or appraised.

But David Checkle, who owns David's Comics and Collectibles in Fayetteville, said newspaper clippings tend not to have collector value.

They are worth some money but nothing that would catapult a person to riches, he said.

Checkle said he has seen clippings at flea markets go for about $30 to $40.

They are more of a personal keepsake for fans, he said.

The reprints of the comics sell for about the same, said Dolores Healey, a sales representative for Fantagraphics.