Archive for Sunday, October 29, 2000

Halloween items not always spooky

October 29, 2000


Halloween memorabilia does not always feature ghosts, goblins and witches.

From about 1930, famous figures from radio, movies, sports, politics and television became popular as Halloween costumes, masks and decorations. In the early years of the 20th century, costumes were homemade. Gypsies, fairies, med-ieval maidens, animals, scarecrows and the ever-popular witches and ghosts were favored.

When masks of papier-mgauze or vinyl became available, the costumes often represented characters or living people. Laurel and Hardy, Roy Rogers, Buck Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy and others were imitated with a mask and costume sold as a set in dime stores.

Other Halloween "props" also included caricatures of the famous. Bags to carry Halloween treats, postcards and party favors pictured orange-and-black witches, cats and sometimes a celebrity.

Collectors today search for the obvious items from the holiday, the black cats and goblins. Less-obvious Halloween pieces that are not in popular colors and that have more modern subjects are the "sleepers" for collectors.

Have you heard of a glass company called "Gay Fad"? A friend of mine says her 1950s drinking glasses were made by this company. The glasses are marked with the initials "GF," but I still am not sure I believe her.

Your friend is telling the truth. Gay Fad Studio opened a factory in Lancaster, Ohio, in 1945. A Detroit woman named Fran Taylor founded the company. She had started hand-decorating metal wastebaskets, canister sets and trays a few years earlier. They sold well, so Taylor started decorating glass tumblers. The glasses sold even better, so she opened her factory in Ohio. She wanted to be close to several of the sources of glass blanks for her decorating staff.

The factory also turned out glass pitchers, cups, saucers, ashtrays, salad sets and barware. Some glass sets were made to match popular ceramic-dinnerware patterns, like Blue Willow or Currier & Ives.

Gay Fad's factory closed in 1965.

My pottery tiles have relief decorations of a Greek goddess with children. The front is marked "H.M." and the back is marked "American Encaustic Tiling Co. Limited, New York, Works, Zanesville, O." Any idea of its age?

American Encaustic Tiling Company worked from 1875 to 1935. It made tiles for floors, walls, fireplaces and more. "H.M." are Herman Mueller's initials. He worked for the tile company from 1887 to 1894.

My mother left me a necklace made from stones of various colors. I don't know whether the jewelry is valuable. It is probably about 50 or 60 years old. The piece is signed "Seaman Schepps."

Your necklace is a good one. Seaman Schepps (1881-1972), a native New Yorker, founded a jewelry store in New York City that is still in business. Schepps designed fashionable and sometimes one-of-a-kind bracelets, rings, brooches and necklaces using precious metals and precious and semiprecious stones.

Take your necklace to a jeweler to have it appraised and checked to be sure the stones are not loose. Most jewelers can assess their value.

I have a crate that is printed "Arbuckles' Roasted Coffees." My grandfather kept it full of his woodworking tools. I understand these boxes are now valuable. It is at least 100 years old.

All old advertising crates have value. Most sell from about $75 to $100. They are worth more if there is a paper label or labels in good condition.

The Arbuckles' Coffee crate has a special audience and, even without a paper label, is worth up to $500 in some parts of the country. Arbuckles' Coffee was a popular brand after 1865. It was roasted, specially treated and sold in 1-pound bags to consumers. Larger bags were sold to restaurants or trading posts. A special mail-in premium offer was included, and the Arbuckles' signatures could be redeemed for useful household items.

The crates that held the coffee bags were given to customers by stores. They were used as shelves, tables or storage boxes. They were especially prized by people living on Indian reservations. In the West near Indian settlements, the boxes sell for the highest prices. They bring back many memories of earlier times.

My pressed glass platter pictures three presidents: Garfield, Washington and Lincoln. On the edge it reads "In Remembrance." It is 12 1/2 inches by 10 inches. When was it made?

Your bread plate is known as the "Three President" pattern. It was made just after President James A. Garfield was assassinated on July 2, 1881. It is worth about $150.


Don't use the popular aluminum-foil-and-baking-soda system to clean antique silver. It leaves the silver with an undesirable white film.

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