Archive for Sunday, May 9, 2004

Antiques: Colorful ‘penny toys’ are worth more than a penny

May 9, 2004


A penny saved by a child in the 1890s could be spent to buy a small toy from a street vendor.

"Penny toys" were made by factories in Germany, France and Japan between 1890 and 1935. They were small but colorful and detailed. Some had moving parts. The most collectible today were made of lithographed tin, but others were made from lead, cast iron, paper, wood or celluloid. The toys included a car with a driver and moving wheels, a dancing clown, a ship on wheels and a girl with a toy in a baby carriage.

Today, prices for these toys are far more than a penny. At a recent Theriault's auction, most of the penny toys sold for $100 to $500 each, and a few sold for thousands of dollars.

Please tell me when rectangular piano benches were introduced. Were they first made before or after the round, adjustable stools?

Before about 1800, stationary round stools were usually used by musicians sitting at keyboard instruments, like pianos or harpsichords. Music stools with adjustable round seats were introduced in the late 1700s or early 1800s. It was a practical improvement, allowing musicians of different heights to use the same stool. Rectangular stools with a storage area under the hinged seat were introduced around 1850.

Can you help me identify my family heirloom? It's a large, ceramic lobster plate that belonged to my great-grandmother. She hung it on her wall. It is white with gold trim and a large, lifelike, bright-red lobster in the center. The mark on the back is three fleur-de-lis above the initials "J.S." and the word "Germany." How old is the plate, and who made it?

The mark was used between 1896 and 1919. Your plate was manufactured by Josef Schachtel, who operated a porcelain factory in Silesia, Germany (now Zofiowka, Poland). Schachtel's factory produced decorative and household porcelain.

I have a pair of matching brass sculptures of an Egyptian-style face. They belonged to my late husband since before we were married, 61 years ago. Each face is hollow and just 6 inches high and 4 1/2 inches wide. My husband was told that the sculptures were originally mounted on the corners of a chest. I have hung them on the wall and often use them to hold flowers. During the past few months, I have noticed that small pinholes are appearing on the faces. What is causing these holes, and is there anything I can do to stop this?

The holes are corrosion caused by a chemical reaction. There is a common chemical corrosion called "bronze disease" that can afflict brass, bronze and other metals exposed to moisture. We suspect that the base metal of your figures is not brass, but some other metal. If you want to save the pieces, contact a professional conservator who might be able to fill the holes and suggest a method of protecting the sculptures from further corrosion.

This baby carriage is a penny toy only 3 1/2 inches long. It was
auctioned for $578 by Theriault's of Annapolis, Md.

This baby carriage is a penny toy only 3 1/2 inches long. It was auctioned for $578 by Theriault's of Annapolis, Md.

My mother left me her favorite brooch, and I would like to know more about it. The frame is shaped like a butterfly. Within the wings are nearly invisibly set diamonds and colored gemstones. A handwritten note left in its box says "Oscar Heyman." Is that the designer?

Take the brooch, its box and any related paperwork to a reputable jeweler in your area. The brooch could be worth a great deal of money and should be appraised by an expert. Oscar Heyman & Bros. of New York is famous for its brooches shaped like butterflies and hummingbirds. The company has been in business since 1912, but only lately has it begun to market pieces under its own name. Previously, only a store name was linked with an Oscar Heyman piece.

I have an old, wooden tub washing machine with a painted logo on the side that reads "The Nineteen Hundred Washer." The logo also lists patent dates ranging from 1889 to 1901. The tub has four outstretched legs surrounding a large coil spring that spins the tub. There's a handle on the outer rim of the tub and wooden baffles inside to agitate the clothes. Any information?

Your washing machine was operated by hand from a sitting position. A customer could also buy a wringer to mount above the machine. The Nineteen Hundred Washer Co. was founded in 1889 in Binghamton, N.Y. Your machine dates from the first decade of the 1900s. Other companies made similar machines. In 1929, Nineteen Hundred Washer Co. merged with Upton Machine Co. of St. Joseph, Mich., and became Nineteen Hundred Corp. The company was renamed Whirlpool Corp. in 1950. But Whirlpool has been a registered brand name since 1907. The brand was acquired by Nineteen Hundred Washer Co. in 1922.


Hand-wash dishes and glasses with gold or platinum trim.

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.

¢ Archie comic-strip paper dolls, Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Whitman, uncut, 1969, 6 pages, $30.

¢ Planters Peanuts bank, hat reads "Mr. Peanut," turn hat to open, plastic, 1950s, 8 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches, $75.

¢ Nickel-plated brass hand bell, embossed "Schafferstown U.B. Church, 1851-1919," 4 inches, $135.

¢ Olympic pin, 1956, Melbourne, Kenya team, multicolored, $300.

¢ Popeye toy, celluloid, head goes up and down, windup, King Features Syndicate, 1929, 8 1/2 inches, $950.

¢ Pennsylvania Chippendale chest of drawers, walnut, 4 cock-beaded dovetailed drawers, fluted columns, ogee bracket feet, 36 x 42 x 22 inches, $4,400.

¢ Spatterware waste bowl, red, Primrose pattern, flared edge, yellow center, purple flower, green leaves, 3 x 5 1/2 inches, $1,210.

The Kovels answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for its use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and addresses will not be published. 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 Kovels, (name of your newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019.

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