Women in England who were fighting for the right to vote were given the name "suffragettes." They were suffering by being denied suffrage, but the name also conjures up references to the way the activists were treated. Woman petitioning or protesting to get the right to vote were arrested and jailed. They went on hunger strikes and were either force-fed or allowed to starve until too weak to protest. They were beaten at rallies, including the peaceful ones. The suffragette movement started in 1897 as a peaceful protest, but participants received little attention until 1903, when the movement became militant. Women burned down churches, chained themselves to fences and attacked politicians' homes and golf courses. One woman ran onto the racetrack on Derby Day and was killed. The women were laughed at. Cartoons, plays and figurines were made showing unattractive, angry, aggressive women asking for the vote. Look for these and slogan pins, pamphlets and even precious jewelry with green and purple stones. Collectors want all memorabilia connected with the drive for women's votes. In England the vote was granted in 1918; in the United States, the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. In many countries today, women are still not permitted to vote.
Q: My son-in-law collects old Tonka trucks. He's in the process of taking off rust and peeling paint and repainting them. I told him he shouldn't do this. Who's right?
A: It all depends. Tonka toys were introduced in 1947 by a company called Mound Metalcraft, located in Mound, Minn. Mound is a suburb of Minneapolis near Lake Minnetonka -- hence the trade name Tonka. Early toys were constructed of solid steel. Eventually, some plastic was added. Today the brand is a division of Hasbro. If your son-in-law's toys are early ones in reasonably good shape - if the trucks show only a little wear - then he should not paint them. They are worth more untouched. However, if the trucks have deteriorated to the point where they are rusty and in poor condition, collectors won't want them anyway. So tell him to go ahead and repaint them.
Q: At an estate sale years ago, I bought a 50-page scrapbook-style booklet titled "Chicago." It's string-tied on one end and filled with color lithographed prints of Chicago landmarks. The copyright date is 1910 and the publisher is V.O. Hammon Publishing Co., 215 Wabash Ave., Chicago. I also bought some picture postcards of Chicago buildings from the same era and later. They were all published by Curt Teich & Co. Are the postcards and booklet worth anything?
A: Both V.O. Hammon of Chicago and Minneapolis and Curt Teich of Chicago were well-known publishers of postcards and souvenir scenes of Chicago. Teich was in business from 1898 to 1978, and Hammon from about 1904 to 1923. They both published both lithographic and photographic postcards. In general, old color postcards of city buildings sell for $5 to $10 each, depending on their condition. Your Chicago souvenir book would be of interest to Chicagoans and to historical societies there. It could sell for $50 or more.
Q: My grandmother left me a metal bookstand that held the Finnish Bible she had when she arrived on Ellis Island a century ago. The stand is marked "La Verne W. Noyes, Factory: 12th and Rockwell Streets, Chicago." Can you tell me how old it is and what it's worth? Unfortunately, one of the wooden boards on top is cracked.
A: Your bookstand is not particularly valuable, but it does have an interesting history. La Verne Noyes (1849-1919) was an inventor and entrepreneur. He patented his "dictionary holder" in the late 1870s to hold his wife's unabridged dictionary. Then he opened a factory in Chicago to mass-produce the stands. They sold well to booksellers. But the invention that made Noyes the most money was his akromotor, a windmill part that converted wind to electricity.
Q: I am desperately trying to learn who made my Alice in Wonderland ceramic cookie jar. The impressed mark on the bottom is a copyright symbol and the words "Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney Prod." The jar is round and white with a raised image of Alice wearing a blue dress and a white apron. There are two red-and-yellow flowers with green stems at her feet. The flat cover is white with a round tan handle topped by a raised red circle - it looks like a muffin with a cherry on the top. Can you help?
A: Many cookie jars licensed by Walt Disney Productions are not marked with the manufacturer's name. The shape of your jar and its distinctive handle are clues to its maker. Jars with the same shape and handle are attributed to American Bisque of Williamstown, W.Va., which made pottery from 1919 until about 1980. But your cookie jar was made well after Disney released its animated version of "Alice in Wonderland" in 1951. It probably dates from the 1960s or '70s.