Archive for Sunday, October 27, 2002

Halloween items gain popularity

October 27, 2002


Halloween collectibles are becoming more and more popular. They now rank second only to Christmas memorabilia. Most masks, costumes, trick-or-treat bags, flat wall decorations and crepe-paper table centerpieces are still inexpensive.

Three-dimensional cardboard items, like jack-o'-lanterns and candy containers, are high-priced. The reason is quite understandable. Collectors like to exhibit their prizes. Medium-size 3-D pieces can be set on a shelf and can easily be seen. Large store display pieces, over 3 feet tall, are also expensive because they are very decorative.

My grandparents left us an antique porcelain jar with a cover. It is about 10 inches tall. The round jar is black and white with gold decorations on the borders. On two sides, there are paintings of women in fancy flowing dresses. The oval mark on the bottom has an eagle and the words "Victoria Carlsbad, Austria." My grandfather used the jar as a humidor. I am wondering if it's a tea caddy. Can you help?

Your jar was made at Schmidt & Co.'s Victoria Porcelain Factory between 1891 and 1918. The factory worked from 1883 to 1945 in Altrohlau, Bohemia (later located in Czechoslovakia and now known as Stara Role, Czech Republic). The factory made household and decorative porcelain. Given the size and shape of your jar, we believe it is a cracker jar. It is worth $300 to $400.

In 1978, I bought a pine table with four side chairs and a captain's chair at an auction in Georgia. Each piece is stamped "Handmade by Habitant Shops Inc." Two chairs also have paper labels. Can you tell me anything about the company?

Habitant was working in Bay City, Mich., during the 1940s. The company made rustic-style furniture.

I own a glass pitcher that was a wedding gift to my great-grandmother in 1897. I saw a similar piece in a glass museum in Wheeling, W.Va., and learned that the pattern was called No. 335 and was made by the Hobbs Glass Co. Is it valuable?

The Hobbs Glass Co. worked from 1888 to 1891, when it became part of the U.S. Glass Co. The firm's roots date back to 1845, when Barnes, Hobbs & Co. took over a glass factory in Wheeling. From 1881 to 1888, the firm was known as Hobbs, Brockunier & Co. It was during this period that the company made the glassware that's prized today. The pattern of your pressed-glass pitcher is also known as "Hexagonal Block." This pattern was first made in early 1890, but ruby-stained pieces like yours were not introduced until the following year. Hexagonal Block was also made with amber stain, amber stain with etching, and ruby stain with engraving or etching. Your pitcher is worth about $150.

I have had an American Indian chief doll for 50 years. My aunt and uncle gave it to me when I was 12. They drove across the country from California to Florida and bought the doll somewhere in the Rockies. I've never seen another doll like it. The chief is 9 inches tall, with a composition head and eyes that glance to his right. He is wearing what appears to be a piece of a real Indian blanket over a shirt and pants. His long black hair looks real. The bottom of his feet are marked with an oval, but I can't read the words. Can you identify the doll?

Your doll might be a "Skookum" Indian doll. The style of the eyes and the faded mark on the feet are clues. A Montana woman named Mary McAboy was granted design patents for a male and a female Indian doll in 1914. The dolls were given the brand name Skookum (meaning "bully good" or "excellent"). By 1920, they were being produced at a Denver factory and sold from coast to coast. The earliest dolls' heads were dried apples. Later heads were made of a plasterlike material. By the 1950s, the heads were composition or plastic, with eyes that glanced either right or left. By 1952, the year you received your doll, the oval Skookum trademark was embossed on the soles of the doll's molded plastic feet. If your doll is in excellent condition and if his clothing has not faded or worn thin, he would sell for $200 or more.

I have a brass oil lamp made in France. There are engraved words on the front of the brass that I have had translated: "Guaranteed safe, non-explosive, genuine lamp pigeon. A lamp pigeon has a pigeon resting on a sphere terrestrial. Silver Medal Paris 1855." Can you tell me anything about this lamp?

Your lamp is called a Pigeon Lamp (not a lamp pigeon). The "sphere terrestrial" is a globe, part of the lamp's mark. The lamp won a silver medal at the 1855 Paris Exposition. Charles-Joseph Pigeon (1838-1915) invented a nonexplosive gas lamp in the mid-1800s. His lamps were made in several styles and were sold at his Paris store. Pigeon lamps are available today at European flea markets for about $50.

Tip: Always remove the top drawers first from a large chest. If you pull out the bottom drawers and then move the chest, it is likely to tip over.

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