Early whis­tles made from bird bones, wood, more

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel, au­thor­i­ties on col­lectibles, write for the King Fea­tures Syn­di­cate. Visit www.kovels. com.

Terry & Kim Kovel

"I bought a wooden whis­tle, but it wouldn't whis­tle" is part of an old chil­dren's song that goes on to joke about buy­ing a metal whis­tle.

But a mod­ern metal whis­tle used by a po­lice­man looks very dif­fer­ent from the wooden whis­tle made cen­turies ago.

And to­day, if a whis­tle is wood, it usu­ally is carved into an in­ter­est­ing shape or painted to hide the wood sur­face.

Early whis­tles were made from hol­low reeds or bird bones. By the 17th cen­tury, ce­ramic whis­tles were avail­able, of­ten in the shape of an owl or other bird. The cen­ter of the whis­tle held water. Blow­ing into a hole on its back made the water move and make a sound.

There also were wind whis­tles hand­made or molded from clay. Many have been made since the 17th cen­tury, but few of the early clay bird whis­tles re­main.

To­day, you can find a lot of whis­tles made of pot metal, cel­lu­loid or plas­tic. An un­marked earth­en­ware bird whis­tle with col­or­ful paint dec­o­ra­tion was sold at a Hess Auc­tion Group auc­tion that fea­tured Penn­syl­va­nia wares. The 4-inch-long bird sold for $212.

Q: When I bought my hair salon in 1972, it had a Coca-Cola ma­chine. It was made by the Vendo Co. of Kansas City. Cokes cost 15 cents. But it isn't the typ­i­cal red-and-white Coca-Cola ma­chine — the front looks like wood and has eight pan­els with black trim. The ma­chine still works, and I have it in my home. Could you tell me its value?

A: The Vendo Co. was started in the late 1930s in Kansas City, Mis­souri. The Vendo Model 56 vend­ing ma­chine was de­signed This mul­ti­color earth­en­ware bird — a whis­tle that would ac­tu­ally whis­tle — sold for $212.

about 1956 and made un­til the mid-1960s. The ma­chine held 56 bot­tles, sizes 8 ounces to 12 ounces, in up to seven va­ri­eties.

It was of­fered in red and white, red and white with wood­grain, and with wood­grain "decorator doors" that made it look like a cabi­net rather than a brightly col­ored soda ma­chine. Styles

in­cluded Dan­ish, Pro­vin­cial, Colo­nial, Tra­di­tional and Mediter­ranean, like yours.

Vin­tage Vendo soda vend­ing ma­chines in old and worn but work­ing con­di­tion that ad­ver­tise brands such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi sell from about $250 to about $500. Coca-Cola ver­sions are worth the most. Re­stored ex­am­ples sell into the thou­sands. With­out prod­uct ad­ver­tis­ing, they are worth less, about $100 to $300.

CUR­RENT PRICES

Cur­rent prices are recorded from an­tiques shows, flea mar­kets, sales and auc­tions through­out the United States. Prices vary in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions be­cause of lo­cal eco­nomic con­di­tions.

• Mar­ble lamp base: neo­clas­si­cal, gilt bronze, putti, acan­thus base, 1800s, 19 by 34 by 9½ inches, $220

• Ivory card case: pierced, curved, peo­ple in gar­den, dif­fer­ent scenes on re­verse, 4 by 2 inches, $630

• Gar­den bench: ferns, cast and black-painted iron, 1880, 33 by 55 inches, $1,180

• Coca-Cola ra­dio: fig­u­ral, hob­ble skirt Coke bot­tle, em­bossed, elec­tric, 1933, 24 by 8 inches, $3,660

[COWLES SYN­DI­CATE]

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