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Published July 31, 2009, 12:00 AM

Farm-related toys popular with gardeners

Now that vegetable gardens are in the news – there’s one at the White House, and cities are encouraging residents to plant them on vacant lots – collectors are looking at farm-related toys with more interest.

By: By Terry Kovel, INFORUM

Now that vegetable gardens are in the news – there’s one at the White House, and cities are encouraging residents to plant them on vacant lots – collectors are looking at farm-related toys with more interest.

Toy manufacturers made cast-iron farm toys in the early 1900s, lithographed tin toys by the 1930s and, after World War II, aluminum and plastic toys. You can usually date a toy tractor by the material it’s made of and by the design of the tractor. Most were made as models of full-size machines. Other details, including how the wheels and tires are made, how it’s painted and what the drivers are wearing, also help.

Some of the companies that made toy tractors wanted by collectors are Arcade Manufacturing Co. (1868-1946), Hubley (1894-1965), Marklin (1859-present), Weeden Manufacturing Co. (1883-1942) and Vindex, the trade name used by the National Sewing Machine Co. (1930-38). More recent companies are Ertl (1945-present) and John Deere (1837-present).

Today’s full-size tractors are equipped with air conditioning, comfortable seats, guidance systems and radios. They look very different from old ones. Scale-model toys of new machines are interesting, but probably will not go up in value for at least 50 years if prices follow the pattern of past years. Don’t buy farm toys as an investment. Buy them to enjoy them.


Q: I recently purchased a four-color woven jacquard coverlet at a local thrift store. It’s in excellent condition. The corner block reads, “Made by H. Hersh (with a backward “s”), 1848, for R. Birely.” Any thoughts on what it’s worth?

A: If your coverlet is a genuine antique, it was woven by Henry Hersh, a native Pennsylvanian born about 1808. Although he lived until 1882, his known coverlets date from 1846-49. He worked in Lancaster County in eastern Pennsylvania. Prices of Hersh coverlets that have sold recently ranged from $200 to $550. But copies of antique coverlets are common.


Q: My antique writing chair belonged to my grandfather, who died in 1948 at the age of 76. Family lore says the chair originally belonged to his father, but I’m not sure if that’s true. The writing arm on the chair folds down, and the seat and back are caned in a herringbone pattern. I have had the chair repaired, refinished and re-caned, and when the old cane seat was removed we found the mark “The Delaware Chair Trademark.” Can you tell me some history?

A: Your chair could have belonged to your great-grandfather. Delaware Chair Co. was founded in Delaware, Ohio, about 30 miles north of Columbus, in 1870. It thrived until the Great Depression, then was sold in 1935 and moved out of state. Delaware Chair Co. made sturdy chairs (in fact, one line of chairs was called “Sturdy Line”) for school and industrial use. Most of the chairs were oak with double-sided cane seats woven in a herringbone pattern.


Q: I noticed that a 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers pennant recently auctioned for more than $2,000. I have an old red-and-white felt Cincinnati Reds pennant, 28 by 11 inches, that’s been stashed away for years with my other baseball memorabilia. The pennant is red with the word “Cincinnati” in white capital letters to the right of “Mr. Red,” the team logo. He has a handlebar mustache and a pillbox cap and is carrying a bat.

I have been told that Cincinnati fielded the first professional baseball team in the country. If that’s true, does it increase the value of my pennant?

A: It’s true that Cincinnati’s baseball team, called the Red Stockings then and later, was the first fully professional team in the United States. If you had a 19th-century pennant, it would be a treasure. The clue to the age of your pennant is Mr. Red. He sported a handlebar mustache from 1953 to 1968. So your pennant dates from those years. If it’s in excellent shape, it might sell for $25 or so.


Q: I would like to learn more about Listerine cigarettes and the company that made them. I have an old ad.

A: Listerine cigarettes were made in the 1930s by Lambert Pharmacal, the company that made Listerine mouthwash. The tobacco was infused with the same antiseptic oils used in the mouthwash for a “cooling and soothing effect.” Perhaps they were meant to eliminate “smoker’s breath.” Listerine cigarettes were evidently not very popular because there is almost no record of their existence. The Listerine brand is now owned by Johnson & Johnson.

Tip

Never wear jewelry in a swimming pool. The chlorine may cause damage.

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.

- Bakelite Scottie Dog brooch, pumpkin color, painted black dog collar, two-tone eye, 1930s, 3 inches, $75.

- Roberta Ann doll, plastic, blue sleep eyes, open mouth, tongue, gold blond Saran wig, 1950s, Roberta Doll Co., 14 inches, $90.

- Tin advertising thermometer, “We Recommend Trophy Motor Oil,” red arrow points to 40-below on temperature scale, black ground, 1930s, 7 by 27 inches, $345.

- Chinese wedding skirt, pleated silk with embroidery, framed under glass, circa 1880, 46 by 29 inches, $525.


For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s Web site, www.kovels.com

Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovel, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St. New York, NY 10019.

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