Our expert shares the scoop on the history and value of vintage toys, holiday decor and advertising collectibles.
Our expert shares facts and figures about antiques.
This 6-inch-high Mickey Mouse toy somehow survived my childhood in the 1950s. When switched on, Mickey’s body and head move back and forth as he plays the xylophone. The back of the toy is marked“Linemar/Made in Japan”and“Walt Disney Productions.” What is it worth?
Mickey Mouse, who made his film debut in the 1928 sound short “Steamboat Willie,” was a boon to the struggling toy industry during the Great Depression. Toys based on Walt Disney animation characters remained popular through the 20th century. By the 1960s, Louis Marx and Company was the largest toy manufacturer in the world. Marx owned a factory in Japan, which labeled its toys Linemar. The tin windup Mickey Mouse Xylophone Player usually sells for $250 to $300; however, one missing its thin rubber tail sold last year for only $133. Having the toy’s original box adds greatly to the value—sometimes by more than 100 percent. A Mickey Mouse Xylophone Player toy with its colorfully illustrated box sold at Morphy Auctions in 2014 for $1,440.
RESOURCES: Marx Toys: Robots, Space, Comic, Disney & TV Characters by Maxine A. Pinsky (1996: Schiffer Publishing, 610-593-1777, www. schifferbooks.com); LiveAuctioneers, www.liveauctioneers.com.
We bought a box of old Christmas ornaments at an estate sale. This small glass teapot is the most interesting. Can you tell us when and where it was made and the value?
Glass Christmas tree ornaments originated in the town of Lauscha, Germany, where a factory began manufacturing glass toys in the early 1600s. In the 19th century, glassblowers there crafted hollow glass balls called kugels, which were sometimes hung from ceilings and windows for good luck. Soon other shapes were made, including fruit and pinecones. These colorful decorations drew the attention of toy merchants in nearby Sonneberg, who took over the international marketing of glass decorations in the mid-1870s. American variety-store magnate F.W. Woolworth was largely responsible for the rapid increase in sales of glass Christmas ornaments in the 1880s. Hundreds of shapes were made in the 20th century. This teapot was made in Germany in the 1920s or 1930s and is valued at $20 to $40.
This Santa Claus coin bank is about 6 inches high by 5 inches wide by 6 inches deep. It is lightweight, perhaps made of aluminum .“BAN TH RICO IND/ CHICAGO USA” is stamped on the bottom. Is this bank rare or valuable?
Chicago-based Banthrico Inc. produced more than 900 different coin banks while in business from 1931 to 1985. Most of the banks were sold to financial institutions, which distributed them to their customers. The flat panel on the back of the coin bank customarily would have been printed with the name of a local banking company. This bank is made of white metal, which was composed of 95 percent zinc and 5 percent aluminum. A slightly larger version was made in 1955. This size came out a year later. Banthrico white metal Santa banks usually sell for $50 to $75, depending on condition. When the original illustrated cardboard box is included, the bank sells at auction for as much as $250.
RESOURCE: Coin Banks by Banthrico by James L. Redwine (2001: Schiffer Publishing, 610-593-1777, www.schifferbooks.com).
I picked up this 3-inch-high Santa at a flea market. He appears to be made of crepe paper with a wool beard and a tinsel tree. The bottom is marked “Austria.” Can you tell me the age and the purpose of this Santa?
Members of the collectors’ club The Golden Glow of Christmas Past identified this Santa Claus as a postwar decoration, probably made in the 1950s and used in tabletop or shelf displays. Some are found with round cardboard bases, improving stability. Simple examples made of cardboard, crepe paper and cotton can be found for approximately $15 to $20, mainly due to their small size and desirability. Ornate examples trimmed in chenille and felt are sometimes priced as much as $40.
RESOURCE: The Golden Glow of Christmas Past, www.goldenglow.org.
These cards resemble old Christmas postcards but have printing for Lion Coffee on the back. What were they used for?
American manufacturers in the late 1800s often gave small chromolithograph prints to customers who purchased their products. These colorful prints, called trade cards, had advertising printed on the back. The Woolson Spice Company of Toledo, Ohio, founded by Alvin M. Woolson and his brother William Woolson, commissioned trade cards to promote their products. The cards commemorated holidays, seasons and significant events. The company inserted a trade card in each package of its Lion-brand coffee in the 1880s and 1890s. The trade cards, which usually measured 5 by 7 inches, often portrayed women and children. Many of these were printed by Donaldson Brothers of New York City, which produced trade cards for many other companies. Lion Coffee trade cards are usually priced $15 or less each.
This 91/2-inch plate is decorated with berries and small calendar pages of the year 1909. Gilt printing on the plate reads: “D.T. Riser, Bakery and Lunch Room.” What can you tell me about it?
RESOURCE: Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2017 by Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel (2016: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 800-303-1996, www.kovels.com).
by Margaret and Kenn Whitmyer (1994: Collector Books, out of print).
Just as some business owners of today give calendars to customers, merchants in the early 1900s gave calendar plates to customers in appreciation of their patronage. First made in England in the late 1800s, calendar plates reached their peak years in the United States between 1909 and 1915. Many were manufactured in the pottery centers of eastern Ohio and West Virginia. They were decorated with colorful underglaze decals of women, men, flowers, animals and birds, and they always pictured calendar pages of the months of the year. The designs also included the store name along with its product lines and location. Distributed at the end of the year, some had a Christmas theme. Calendar plates usually sell for $15 to $30 apiece, unless the decoration is of special interest or appeal.