Archive for Thursday, March 10, 2005

St. Pat’s Day collectibles rare

March 10, 2005


In honor of St. Patrick's Day, green is a color of preference this month.

The holiday celebrates the fifth-century death of St. Patrick in Ireland. There were celebrations in Ireland for centuries, but it was not until 1762 that America held a celebration and parade in New York City.

By the 1840s, the parade had become an annual event to remember the saint. Gradually, Irish immigrants realized that the parade was a show of numbers of voters, and the parades became more political. Every savvy politician and almost everyone else now celebrates the holiday by dressing in green, admiring shamrocks, believing in leprechauns and hoping for a pot of gold.

St. Patrick's Day collectibles made before 1950 are rare, so collectors celebrate the day by "the wearing of the green" or by decorating with green. Using dark-green glass on the table is a good way to dish dinner on St. Patrick's Day.

Q: I have a chair with a tag that says "Drexel Furniture Co., a division of Drexel Enterprises Inc., Drexel, North Carolina." Can you tell me when the chair was made?

A: Today Drexel Furniture Co. is Drexel Heritage Furniture Industries. The company, now based in High Point, N.C., was founded in 1903 at a crossroads that became Drexel, N.C. Your chair was made in the mid-20th century, when Drexel Enterprises was formed as the furniture firm's parent company.

Q: I collect plastic dollhouse furniture -- the kind I played with in the 1950s. I just paid $25 for a plastic toilet that appears to be an Atlanta souvenir. There's a sticker picturing the Georgia Capitol building on the front of the tank. The phrase "Seat of the Nation" is stamped on the tank top, and "Place Butts Here" is stamped on the seat.

A: You paid a fair price for an unusual souvenir. The toilet was made by Renwal Manufacturing Co. of New York City. Renwal produced plastic dollhouse furniture by the carload starting in 1946. When competition became stiff, the company also sold toys as advertisements and souvenirs. The dollhouse souvenir toilets are not common.

Q: Years ago, my father gave me his old Majestic console radio. It is 4 feet 3 inches tall. A metal plate inside one of the cabinet doors reads "Majestic Electric Radio Receiver, Model 92, Grigsby-Grunow Co., Chicago, U.S.A." Can you tell me when it was made and if it's worth getting rewired?

This emerald-green pressed glass creamer and sugar set was made by
U.S. Glass Co. The pattern, plain scalloped panel, was first
produced about 1896. The set sells today for $50 to $75.

This emerald-green pressed glass creamer and sugar set was made by U.S. Glass Co. The pattern, plain scalloped panel, was first produced about 1896. The set sells today for $50 to $75.

A: Grigsby-Grunow Co.'s history dates back to 1921, but it didn't start manufacturing radio receivers until 1928. The company was already using the brand name "Majestic," and its radios became best sellers. But the radios were expensive console models, and the Depression hit the company hard; it went bankrupt in 1933. Your Model 92 was manufactured in 1929. The cabinet is walnut. Today your radio is valued at about $150 whether it works or not. A repair shop might charge more than the value of the radio.

Q: I have a china plate with a central decal of a woman wearing a fancy hat and scarf. Calendar pages for all 12 months of the year 1909 are printed around the rim, with each month's calendar surrounded by an appropriate floral border (holly for December, flower buds for April, etc.). The mark on the bottom is "Smith Phillips, Semi Porcelain." Do you know anything about Smith Phillips?

A: You have a 1909 "calendar plate." Calendar plates were immensely popular between about 1906 and 1929. Many were printed with the name of a store or a product and were used as advertising premiums. Smith Phillips China Co. of East Liverpool, Ohio, was founded in 1901 by Josiah T. Smith and W.H. Phillips. The company manufactured semiporcelain dinnerware, toilet sets, hotel wares and decorated dishes from 1901 to 1931. Your plate would sell for $10 to $20.

Q: You recently wrote about 19th-century bowls designed to serve strawberries. When we were married in 1950, my wife and I were given a silver strawberry server. The bowl sits on a pedestal and has a cover with a strawberry-and-vine handle. We assumed it was a reproduction, but a few years ago a friend told us that it's an antique. So we did some research and learned that the server is made of coin silver. It was manufactured by Gorham in 1858 and originally retailed for $111. What is coin silver, and what is the server worth today?

A: Gorham Silver Co. was founded in Providence, R.I., in 1831. The term "coin silver" indicates metal that is 900 parts silver out of a total of 1,000 metal parts ("sterling silver" is 925 of 1,000 parts silver). Inflation alone has increased the value of your strawberry server to about $2,400. We have seen a coin-silver strawberry server the same age as yours sell for $9,000. Have yours appraised by a professional.


Never dip rhinestone jewelry in water. It will discolor the backing on the stones.

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.Sheet music, "My One & Only Highland Fling," Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on cover, 1949, $15.Political pennant picturing Gen. Douglas MacArthur, yellow and white on blue ground, 25 1/2 inches, $40.Board game, Fibber McGee & Wistful Vista Mystery, 1940, Milton Bradley, $65.Elfinware porcelain high-heeled shoe, forget-me-not decorations, 3 inches, $110.Mechanical bank, Paddy & the Pig, cast iron, Book of Knowledge, 1960s, $255.Pressed glass butter dish and cover, Cabbage Leaf pattern, frosted, 5 x 6 inches, $630.Little Elf Coffee tin, elf carrying tray, Bursley & Co., Fort Wayne, Ind., 1 lb., $670.K*R doll, child in Scottish costume, bisque socket head, open mouth, 4 teeth, black hat and jacket, red plaid kilt, stockings and scarf, c. 1910, 16 1/2 inches, $895.Steiff dog, Irish terrier, golden mohair, painted details, seated, swivel head, amber glass eyes, black embroidered nose, c. 1920, 11 inches, $615.Chippendale camelback sofa, mahogany, domed crest, out-turned scrolling arms, straight legs, floral tapestry upholstery, c. 1800, 69 inches, $2,990.

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