Celebrity en­dorse­ments from a cham­pion horse

The Washington Times Daily - - Life - TERRY KOVEL

His­tory be­comes more in­ter­est­ing if you learn about it through ob­jects and sto­ries. It’s the “rest of the story” that adds to the fun. A large pail that once held Dan Patch Roasted Cof­fee auc­tioned re­cently for $2,035. The bright red can fea­tures a horse and rider in a har­ness race. The can is col­or­ful, 111/ inches tall and very dec­o­ra­tive, but the price was boosted by the his­tory it rep­re­sents.

Dan Patch was a brown horse, a pacer, born in In­di­ana in 1896. He broke the world’s record for a har­ness race in 1906, and it took 32 years for an­other horse to go faster. He never lost a race. He was a celebrity, and cof­fee wasn’t the only prod­uct named for him. Cars and wash­ing ma­chines and cigars bore his name, and so did pop­u­lar toys.

Crowds fol­lowed his ap­pear­ances, and as many as 100,000 peo­ple went to see the horse, which, ac­cord­ing to re­ports, “ra­di­ated charisma.” Dan Patch re­ceived fan mail and gifts while mak­ing as much as $1 mil­lion in a year. He re­tired from rac­ing in 1909 and died in 1916.

He re­mained a star for many years af­ter his death, partly be­cause his world record was not bro­ken un­til 1938. Streets named Dan Patch still ex­ist. Dan Patch Sta­dium is at a high school in Sav­age, Minn., where the horse lived af­ter he was pur­chased by a Min­nesotan in 1902. An an­nual Dan Patch Day fes­ti­val is cel­e­brated in his home­town of Ox­ford, Ind., and an­other an­nual Dan Patch Day is held in Sav­age.

Books have been writ­ten about him, a movie was made about his life in 1949, and he’s men­tioned in a song from the 1957 Broad­way mu­si­cal “The Mu­sic Man.” But Dan Patch Ground Cof­fee was named for the horse well be­fore the days of movies and tele­vi­sion.

You still can find Dan Patch mem­o­ra­bilia in Sav­age, Minn., to­day. Go to the Sav­age De­pot Cof­fee Shop, the Ra­zors Edge Bar­ber Shop or the lo­cal li­brary.

Q. I in­her­ited two an­tique Met­t­lach steins that were ap­praised six years ago for $1,700 each. I have been try­ing to sell them on­line and lo­cally for less than that, but I have got­ten no tak­ers. Some deal­ers have made in­sult­ing re­marks about my pric­ing. What’s go­ing on?

A. Some Met­t­lach steins in mint con­di­tion can sell for $1,700 or even more, but many sell for a lot less. The price de­pends on the rar­ity of a par­tic­u­lar stein. In ad­di­tion, you’re deal­ing with a niche mar­ket and may not be reach­ing in­ter­ested buy­ers. Try con­tact­ing a na­tional auc­tion house that fo­cuses on steins. You will find sev­eral on­line.

Q. My grand­mother, who was born in 1886, left her fa­vorite rock­ing chair to me. She lived in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and the chair is la­beled “Web­ster Mfg. Co., Su­pe­rior, Wis.” The chair is oak and has a pressed de­sign in the back’s crest above six turned spin­dles. What can you tell me?

A. Web­ster Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co. of Su­pe­rior, Wis., was mak­ing chairs by the 1890s. In its early years, it was called the Web­ster Chair Co. By 1915, it was a ma­jor Amer­i­can chair man­u­fac­turer and had opened a fac­tory in at least one other city. It ap­pears to have gone out of busi­ness dur­ing the De­pres­sion. Pressed oak chairs like yours were es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in the late 19th cen­tury, so it is likely your chair dates from that pe­riod. De­pend­ing on its con­di­tion, it would sell for $100 or more.

Q. I have a kerosene lamp marked “Queen Anne” and “Scov­ill Mfg. Co.” I know it’s about 100 years old. Can you give me some in­for­ma­tion about it?

A. Scov­ill Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co. opened in 1802 in Water­bury, Conn., un­der the name Abel Porter & Co. It made brass buttons and op­er­ated un­der var­i­ous names and own­ers through the years. James Mitchell Lam­son Scov­ill and Wil­liam H. Scov­ill even­tu­ally took over the busi­ness, which was in­cor­po­rated as Scov­ill Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co. in 1850.

Scov­ill made brass lamps, ar­tillery fuses, mu­ni­tions, medals, da­guerreo­type plates, cam­eras and other items. Af­ter 1866, it also made coin blanks for the U.S. Mint. Scov­ill holds sev­eral pa­tents for im­prove­ments to lamp burn­ers.

“Queen Anne” is a type of burner that was in com­mon use in the late 1800s. It was made by Scov­ill and other com­pa­nies. New Queen Anne burn­ers are avail­able to­day for re­pair and restora­tion of old lamps. Scov­ill is still in busi­ness, with head­quar­ters in Clarkesville, Ga.

To­day, the com­pany makes fas­ten­ers for cloth­ing and light in­dus­trial use and holds a patent for the grip­per snap, in­tro­duced in the 1930s.

Your lamp was prob­a­bly made in the late 1800s. If all parts are orig­i­nal, it is worth about $100 to $150.

Q. I have an item called a “mo­tion teaser.” It in­cludes five heavy sil­ver balls about an inch in di­am­e­ter. Each is at­tached to a string and the strings are at­tached to a wooden frame. You swing one ball so it touches the next one and then they all swing back and forth.

How­ever, it stops in about a minute. Aren’t they sup­posed to keep swing­ing back and forth by them­selves? Ev­ery once in a while, I see one of these in an old movie and the balls keep swing­ing back and forth in­def­i­nitely. Am I do­ing some­thing wrong? I don’t see what the big deal is if you have to start it ev­ery other minute.

Some­one gave me this. I think this it’s from the 1970s or ‘80s.

A. Your toy was in­vented in 1967 by Si­mon Preb­ble, an English ac­tor, and is known as “New­ton’s Cra­dle” be­cause it demon­strates one of Isaac New­ton’s laws of mo­tion: “For ev­ery ac­tion, there is an equal and op­po­site re­ac­tion.” When you pull the first ball back and re­lease it so that it swings and hits the row of balls, the en­ergy is trans­ferred through the line of balls to the ball on the other end, caus­ing it to swing out at ap­prox­i­mately the same dis­tance and back to hit the sta­tion­ary balls. If you pull two balls out, two balls will swing out from the op­po­site end.

It’s not a per­pet­ual mo­tion ma­chine, be­cause some mo­men­tum and en­ergy are lost with each hit due to fric­tion. The length of time it will keep go­ing is based partly on how well it’s built. Toys like this were made un­der sev­eral names and in dif­fer­ent sizes. They al­ways have an odd num­ber of balls, usu­ally five or seven. Some­one has even made New­ton’s Cra­dle us­ing 15-pound bowl­ing balls hung from 20-foot ca­bles.

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