Tuesday, October 28, 2008


This witch moves up and down in the pumpkin Savings Halloween Decorations

Save the Halloween decorations you get this year. This witch moves up and down in the pumpkin. The 36-inch-tall toy sold at a Showtime auction this month for $770. It was part of the collection of Sandy Rosnick, who was best known for his collection of tobacco tins.


c.1800 vampire-killing kit

Vampires Beware

Watch out, Dracula--a collector paid $14,850 for a c.1800 vampire-killing kit at a Mississippi auction earlier this month. The kit is complete with stakes, mirrors, a gun with silver bullets, crosses, a Bible, holy water and, of course, garlic, all neatly arranged in an American walnut case. It sold at a Stevens Auction Company sale.


Collectible political memorabilia is everywhere this week, but we just read an AP story about a unique buy from the 2000 election. Remember hanging chads? When the 1,200 Votomatic III voting machines used that year in Palm Beach County were junked and sold, Florida political consultant Jim Dobyns bought a warehouse-full offered on eBay for $12,000. The machines are collapsible and can fold to briefcase-size, so he's selling them online and through his website (JimDobyns.com) for $75 each plus shipping. Presidential libraries, politicians (mostly Democrats), teachers, and of course political memorabilia collectors bought them.

Each machine is a piece of history. Dobyns has only about 60 left, but six months ago he thought about the chads still inside each machine. He and his wife are now selling the chads on eBay. For $20, you can buy 10 chads in a little plastic bag. You'll also get a certificate of authenticity.
So wait till Nov. 4 and see if there is a "hanging chad of 2008" that could be sold in a few years. And save your signs, pins, and other political stuff for future collectors.

We were doing our television show when Richard Nixon was president. Cesar Chavez was boycotting lettuce growers in California, trying to get his United Farm Workers Union rather than the Teamsters recognized as leading the fight to get rights for migrant workers. It was an issue at the 1972 Democratic convention. An angry lettuce grower had special boxes made to support Nixon and the Republicans in the election and to protest Chavez's boycott. We got one of those boxes and showed it on our program as an example of a rare political collectible. We have no idea what this mint box would be worth today--we have never seen one sold. But who knew hanging chads would be worth $2 each?


Donald Duck Rocker

Q: We have a Donald Duck rocker that has been in my wife's family for many generations. The outside is marked "Walt Disney Enterprises." The inside is marked "Mengel Playthings." Can you tell me when it was made and how much it is worth?

A: Donald Duck appeared in his first Walt Disney "short" in 1934. Mengel Playthings was a line of wooden toys made by C.C. Mengel & Brothers Co. of Louisville, Kentucky. They made several different types of rockers featuring Disney characters. The company was founded by C. Mengel in the late 1800s and taken over by C.C. Mengel Jr. and C.R. Mengel c.1900. Furniture, boxes, toys, and other wooden items were made in the early years, and doors, windows, and wooden subassemblies used by car manufacturers were made later. The company was bought by Kroehler Manufacturing Co. in 1956. Your rocker was probably made in the late 1930s or 1940s and is worth $200-$300 in good condition.


N in C Mark N in C Mark

Q: I have a vase with this N in C mark as well as several other letters and numbers stamped or inscribed on it. Who made it and how old is it?

A: This N in C mark was used by Newcomb Pottery, founded in 1895 at Sophie Newcomb College, a women's college in New Orleans. The pottery continued through the 1940s. Students at the college decorated pottery formed by men. Throwing pots was not considered a suitable occupation for women.

Several other marks can be found on pieces of Newcomb Pottery. Initials of the decorator and potter were incised on the bottom of the piece. A date letter code was used from 1901 to 1942. The year was indicated by one or two letters. Single letters A through Z were used until sometime in 1903, when double letters AA, BB, etc., were used. In 1904 the double letter system changed to AA, AB, AC, etc., until the last date letter code, ZY, was used in 1941.

Each piece of Newcomb Pottery was unique. The number after the date letters indicates the number of the piece. There were 100 numbered pieces for each letter or letter combination.


If your stuffed animals have moth holes or other signs of insect damage, just put them in a bag in the freezer for 72 hours. That will kill all sorts of eggs, larva, insects, even mold. Felt is very popular with moths and carpet beetles, so watch out when you display your toys.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Titanic memorabilia continues to entice collectors. You'd think only a limited amount of collectibles survived the sinking of the ocean liner on April 14, 1912. In June a second-class passenger list from the White Star Line with a handwritten note, "Titanic, First Sailing," auctioned for $33,900 at a Philip Weiss auction in New York.

On October 18, there was another Titanic memorabilia auction in England of the belongings of Millvina Dean, a survivor of the sinking when she was 9 weeks old. She was put in a sack, lowered into a lifeboat and with her mother and brother was saved by the steamship Carpathia. Her father died. When the family arrived in New York, they were given a small wicker suitcase filled with donated clothes. Millvina's mother saved the suitcase, some rare prints of the Titanic, and letters she received from the Titanic Relief Fund. Now, at 96, Millvina needs money to pay her nursing home bills. The memorabilia saved her again when it sold for $53,906 (30,000 British pounds).


Nearly 1.6 million drop-side cribs made by Delta Enterprises between 1995 and 2005 have been recalled. Delta has set up a website for consumers: CribRecallCenter.com.

Don't buy an antique crib for your baby. Too many old cribs have bars too far apart, too much space between the mattress and crib sides, and poorly designed drop sides.


We hope you read the blogs from each week's ezine--like this one, an anonymous comment on last week's story about a rock crystal pitcher that sold for $5.58 million. We had wondered if it had been packed away in a little box. Here's what "Anonymous" wrote:

"I like the idea of its being packed away in a little box for 1,000 years. Now if they could find the little box, just THINK WHAT IT WOULD BE WORTH. We all know about items with original boxes!"

That cheerful comment should help soften the gloom found in the 21 comments on eBay's new policies. You can look up any of our back ezines and related blogs. Go to Kovels.com, select "Free Resources" from the top bar, select "Weekly Ezine," then select a date. The blog comments make great reading.


Head Vase

Q: I have a Jacqueline Kennedy head vase marked Inarco. I'm told it's valuable.

A: Head vases were made as early as the 1930s but were most popular in the 1950s and 1960s when they were used by florists. They usually are shaped like a woman or young girl from the shoulders up and are often "dressed" with a hat and jewelry. Most of the vases were made in the U.S. or Japan. Inarco is the name used by the International Art Ware Corporation, founded in 1960 in Cleveland, Ohio, by Irwin Garber. The company was bought by Napco, a Japanese giftware distributor, in 1986 and moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Napco is still in business and lists itself as an importer and distributor of products for the floral, gift, and decorative accessory industries. Your Jacqueline Kennedy head vase was made in 1964 and has sold for as much as $985, but prices are lower this year.



Q: I recently inherited Princess Anne Golden Dusk Ostrow China dated c.1930. Can you provide any historical information on this set?

A: The Ostrow China mark was used by Hopewell China Company of Hopewell, Virginia. The pottery was founded by Sol Ostrow c.1922. It became the James River Potteries c.1938 to 1940. Your china was made between c.1922 and c.1938.


Paper Collectibles

The Maltz Museum in Cleveland has an exhibition of comics and comic artists from the "Golden Age," 1938 to 1950. Museum curators were very careful in displaying the color covers--they fade in the light. A few of the covers shown are carefully done duplicates because of the fading problem. We once loaned a 75-year-old country fair sign for an outdoor display. In four weeks the printed date on the sign faded to blank, but the original printed fair sign, a generic type, kept its color.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Antique Papers Sold, eBay Cuts Jobs

The AntiqueWeek, AntiqueWest, and Auction Exchange newspapers have all been sold by their London owners, dmg World Media. Dmg also sold the London Antiques Trade Gazette. No word yet about who the buyer is. At least four antiques publications have been sold or discontinued this year, but online publications are popping up.

EBay has announced it will cut 1,600 jobs. EBay says it is not a reaction to the changing economy but part of a plan for future growth.


Good Economic News

The Scotland auto license "S1" just sold for 400,000 British pounds ($752,000). Now the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, wants the Lord Provost to sell his plate, "S0," worth perhaps 500,000 pounds ($940,000). He says it belongs to the city and he will not sell. Some in the city think money from the plate's sale could be used to improve city services; others think it is a symbol that should remain with the city and not be sold. Plates in Dubai and Hong Kong have sold for similar prices, but valid license plates are rarely sold by individuals in the United States.

A carved rock crystal pitcher at first thought to be a cheap French claret jug just sold for $5.58 million. It was made for Egyptian rulers about a thousand years ago. The ewer, carved from a large piece of flawless rock crystal, was at first thought to be glass. Estimated at less than $350 at a small-town auction awhile ago, it sold for $383,692. It was resold for the record price at a later auction. We always wonder how expensive antiques like this hide for so many years without being noticed. It couldn't have been packed away in a little box all these years.


Q: I'm trying to find any information I can on the value and demand for this Coca-Cola Spearmint Gum wrapper.

A: Coca-Cola gum was made from c.1903 to c.1920. The gum was not made by the Coca-Cola beverage company but by another Atlanta company, the Coca-Cola Gum Company, which used both the Coca-Cola name and the logo. The Coca-Cola Gum Company was bought by Franklin Manufacturing (later called Franklin-Caro Co.) and moved to Richmond, Virginia, in the early 1900s. The beverage company did not like this use of their trademark and bought out the gum company by 1924. Your "wrapper" looks like it might be a label used on a box or glass jar. Coca-Cola Gum items are rare and usually bring high prices. Coca-Cola Gum glass jars have sold for several hundred to over a thousand dollars, and several years ago a wrapped stick of the gum reportedly sold at auction for $8,000.


Stickley Table

Q: We purchased an unusual table a few years ago. It's a drop-leaf square table that actually "drops" on the diagonal. The joints all have pegs. Can you tell us how old it is?

A: The table was made by L. & J.G. Stickley in Fayetteville, New York. The company was founded c.1902 by Leopold and John George Stickley, younger brothers of the more famous Gustav Stickley. Early designs were similar to those of Gustav, but veneers and laminated wood were used as well as solid fumed oak. Leonard and John George bought Gustav's business when he retired in 1918. A line of colonial reproduction furniture, the Cherry Valley Collection, was introduced in 1922. Pieces in this line were branded "Stickley Fayetteville Syracuse." After John George died in 1921 and Leonard in 1958, Leonard's wife took over the business. In 1974 the company was sold to Alfred and Aminy Audi. Some of the old Mission furniture designs were reintroduced. Alfred died in 2007 and the company is now run by his wife and son. Company headquarters are in Manlius, New York. The company historian may be able to help identify your Stickley furniture. Send photos to Historian, Stickley Furniture Co., One Stickley Dr., Manlius, NY 13104; or send digital images to History@Stickley.com.


Tip from a reader in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Regarding corrosion, when salt is left in a saltshaker and there is a reaction between the salt and the silver top, you may find that immersing it in warm vinegar will help dissolve the corrosion and will allow the top to loosen. Wash thoroughly in warm water with detergent afterwards.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Hummel figurine


Goebel Germany is stopping production of Hummel figurines on October 31, 2008. Demand has dropped to one third of expected sales. They will sell the figurines as long as they have supplies. We spoke to Carrie Kulak, the American media contact, and she said the 2008 International Club Convention in Germany October, 17th and 18th is cancelled. An announcement will be made in Germany at a special event on the 18th about the "solution" to the question "will there be more Hummels?" We are sure the rights to make the figurines will go to another manufacturer. Will prices for old Hummels go up or down? What do you think?


Queen Anne carved walnut Compass-Seat footstool Unpredictable Prices

Prices can be unpredictable but last week some were amazing. The Queen Anne carved walnut Compass-Seat footstool made in Philadelphia c. 1750 sold at Sotheby's with an estimate of $200,000 to $400,000. It auctioned for $5,234,500, the record price for a piece of seating furniture at auction.


The Czar of Luxury

Phillips de Pury & Co., better known to American collectors as Phillips Auction House, has been sold to a Russian company, the Mercury Group. That gives Phillips more money to operate their art auctions. Mercury has high-end boutiques, a luxury mall, and a department store chain. It has franchises with Fendi furs, Rolex, Prada, Brioni, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari, Patek Philippe, Maserati, Yves Saint Laurent, and other luxury brands. The CEO, Leonid Friedland, sometimes called the "Czar of Luxury," is 37 and we wonder if he collects modern art, a favored item in Phillips' auctions. He started his career selling folk art to tourists in 1992.


Howdy Doody Uke

Q: I bought this Howdy Doody Uke for 50 cents at our church rummage sale back in 1972. It's in wonderful condition. Can you place a value on it?

A: The Howdy Doody Uke, made by Emenee in the 1950s, came in various colors. The box was designed to be a carrying case for the instrument. Emenee was a manufacturer of plastic musical toys for children. It was located in Flushing, New York, from 1955 to 1968. Ohio Art Company, a toy company in Bryan, Ohio, bought Emenee in 1968. Howdy Doody was a marionette that starred in "The Howdy Doody Show," a children's television show that ran from 1947 to 1960. A Howdy Doody Uke like yours, with an instruction and song sheet, sold at auction last year for $158. A corner of the box was split and the box was missing the handle. If your box is in perfect condition and you have the instruction and song sheet, it is worth more.


La Francais La Francais

Q: I have an old platter that belonged to my mother. It has this mark on it. I would like to know who made it and how old it is.

A: La Francais is a pattern made by the French China Company in Sebring, Ohio. The pottery was founded c.1900. It became part of the Sebring Manufacturing Company in 1916. Since your platter also has a 1910 patent date mark, it must have been made between 1910 and 1916.


Taking Care of Prints, Pictures and More...

Recycled paper, paper boxes and cardboard will discolor and damage prints, pictures and documents in or near them. They are high-acid papers and the fumes can travel through the air. If you buy a ready-made picture frame be sure to replace the heavy paper backing that keeps the picture in place.