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Published November 04, 2011, 12:00 AM

Kovels Antiques: Halloween décor can scare up big auction prices

Vintage Halloween decorations are best-sellers today, and their values continue to rise. And sometimes a rare holiday piece will bring an exceptionally high price.

By: By Terry Kovel, INFORUM

Vintage Halloween decorations are best-sellers today, and their values continue to rise. And sometimes a rare holiday piece will bring an exceptionally high price.

Morphy Auctions of Denver, Pa., sold this Vegetable Halloween Man last year. The figure has radish arms, zucchini legs, walnut feet and a watermelon – not a pumpkin – for a head. He grins, and his glass eyes move with the help of a clockwork mechanism. It may be a unique display piece for a store. The 17½-inch figure had many bidders and sold for $19,550.


Q: I heard that glass caskets were once made in the United States. Is that true?

A: Yes. Pressed-glass caskets were made from about 1915 to 1924, but there are patents for glass caskets dating to the 1860s. Early records show that a company in Orville, Ohio, made glass caskets in 1877. It was a Midwestern industry. At least 12 Midwest companies made glass caskets, most using a 1915 patent registered by James DeCamp. Most were small children’s caskets because adult-size caskets were so difficult to make. That’s why large glass caskets were reserved for “holy” people and other important people. Some glass caskets can be seen in Catholic churches in the United States and abroad. Most caskets used today weigh 150 to 200 pounds. An adult glass casket weighed more than 300 pounds, and if dropped or hit, it might break, an undesirable event at a funeral.


Q: I bought an antique solid-oak ice box about 35 years ago. There is a brass plate on the front that says “Challenge, Trademark, Iceberg, Challenge Corn Planter Co., Grand Haven, Mich.” The patent date of April 12, 1887, is stenciled on the back. Can you give me any history of the company and estimate the value?

A: Challenge Corn Planter Co. was in business in Grand Haven from 1883 to 1929. The company made ice boxes (now we use refrigerators) as well as corn planters. Ice boxes were first made in England during the 19th century. The wooden box was lined with tin or another metal and insulated with sawdust, straw or seaweed. Blocks of ice were delivered by the iceman. Other methods of refrigeration were developed in the late 1800s. Electric refrigerators were first sold commercially in 1913. Your ice box is worth $300 to $500.


Q: I have a pair of Rosenthal porcelain doves in mint condition. They were purchased in Europe before or during World War II. Each is marked “Rosenthal Germany Handgemacht” with the crown-over-X mark in the center. There’s also a name under the mark, but I can only make out the first initials, F and H. I would like to sell the figurines, but I have seen their price listed at $200 all the way up to $1,300. Please help.

A: The other mark on your doves is “F. Heidenreich” for Fritz Heidenreich (1895-1966), who worked for Rosenthal from 1919 until 1960. He headed Rosenthal’s art department in Selb, Germany, starting in 1946. Heidenreich designed the doves in the 1930s, but they were made for decades. That’s why the price can vary considerably. It depends on the age of the doves and their condition. And if what you saw online were asking prices, you may never know if they actually sold at those prices.


Q: I discovered that our family has five silver-plated spoons with figures of girls on them along with five different names: Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie and Yvonne. They are not particularly shiny. Can you tell me anything about them, their value and whether I can use any cleaning supplies to brighten the spoons without damaging them?

A: You have a set of Dionne Quintuplet spoons. The end of each handle has a figure of one of the girls. The identical quintuplets were born in Callander, Ontario, Canada, on May 28, 1934. They became wards of the state when they were only a few months old. They were put under the guardianship of Dr. Alon R. Dafoe, the doctor who delivered them, and lived in the Dafoe Hospital and Nursery across the road from the family farm. Their mother opened a souvenir shop on the farm and sold items picturing the girls and souvenirs like “fertility stones” from the farm. The publicity about their birth made the quintuplets famous throughout the world. Up to 6,000 visitors a day came to watch the girls play, and I was one of them. The area known as “Quintland” became the biggest tourist attraction in Ontario. The girls returned to live with their family in 1943. Thousands of special dolls and souvenirs were made picturing the quints at different ages. Emilie died in 1954, Marie in 1970 and Yvonne in 2001. Annette and Cecile still live in Canada. You can use any brand of silver polish to clean the spoons, but if the silver plate has worn off, no amount of cleaning will help. A set of spoons like yours is worth $60 to $75.


For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s website, 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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