Toys often can tell you when and where they were made.
A recent sale of Easter toys included a tin rabbit that was marked “Germany ... Made in U.S. Zone.” Country names in the marks on toys, figurines, dishes and other collectibles may tell the exact time the piece was made because boundaries and names of countries have changed many times. The rabbit was a tin toy that could hop when it was wound up.
First clue to age: Key-wound tin toys were popular in the first half of the 20th century. The U.S. Zone mark was used on things exported from Germany between 1945 and 1949. Those are the years after World War II when Germany was divided and occupied by Allied forces.
Be sure to look carefully at your collectibles to learn their history. Other marks indicating dates used for a short time after the war are “Occupied Japan” (1945-1952), “West Germany” (1949-1990) and “East Germany” (1949-1990).
Q: I have a partial set of ironstone china in a dark-brown pattern. The dishes are marked “Mason’s” above a crown, then “Patent Ironstone China, Vista, England, Guaranteed Permanent and Acid Resisting Colours.” I’d like to add to my set, but the only dishes I can find in the same pattern are pink or blue, not brown. Can you help?
A: Charles James Mason patented his famous “Patent Ironstone China” in 1813. The Mason family of potters produced both ironstone and earthenware for decades. Later, the Mason’s molds and marks were owned by several firms, including G.L. Ashworth & Bros. The Ashworth firm was renamed Mason’s Ironstone China Ltd. in 1968. The mark on your dishes was not used until after 1940. The Vista pattern can be found in not only pink, blue and brown, but also green, mulberry and burgundy with multicolor highlights. You can find brown Vista dishes at china-matching services around the country. We list several under “Free Resources” on our Web site, Kovels.com. We checked. A brown Vista dinner plate retails for $50.
Q: I own an upright player piano labeled “Rudolph, New York.” Its serial number is 27480. It has pump foot pedals and good sound, but I don’t have the bench or any music rolls. I am wondering when it was made and where I can get music rolls that would work.
A: Rudolph Piano Co. made pianos in New York City from 1903 to 1929, when the company was sold to Winter & Co. The serial number indicates that your piano was made in 1916. There are several sources for music rolls that would work in your piano. Just check online.
Q: I keep reading reports of auction prices for jeweled collars for dogs. When were they used?
A: You probably are reading about dog-collar necklaces that were made for wealthy women. The necklace, a wide tight band, was worn around the neck to cover the wrinkles of old age. It was popular in the last part of the 19th and early years of the 20th centuries. The necklace looked good with low-necked dresses. A few “dog collars” are being made today.
Q: I would like to know more about the history of Descoware, the enameled cast-iron cookware Julia Child liked to use on her TV shows.
A: Descoware was a brand name introduced in 1950 by the D.E. Sanford Co. (DESCo), a successful American importing firm founded in Los Angeles in 1927. The brand was initially used on flame-red Le Creuset cookware imported from France. When the French factory balked at adding more colors and making other changes Sanford requested in 1952, Sanford turned to a Belgium factory, Founderie Emaillerie of St. Trond. Within a year, all Descoware was made in Belgium. In 1969 Sanford was sold to General Housewares Corp., but during the next decade GHC sold its rights to the patented formulas for Descoware to Le Creuset. Julia Child was a big fan of Descoware and promoted it on her TV cooking shows. Today Descoware is popular among collectors of enameled cookware, and it’s also sought by serious cooks.
Q: I have a 12-inch cast-iron level made by Davis Level & Tool Co. The patent date on it is Sept. 17, 1867. Is it valuable?
A: Davis levels are favorites among tool collectors. One of the company’s ornate cast-iron levels can sell for hundreds of dollars if its frame and liquid tube are not damaged. In 1867 Leonard L. Davis (1838-1907) founded a company to make tools in Springfield, Mass. The business was called Leonard L. Davis Co. until 1875, when it became the Davis Level & Tool Co. Davis sold out to the M.W. Robinson Co. in 1892. Levels marked with the Davis name may have been made after the sale.
Tip: To clean a Barbie doll’s arms and legs, use a cotton swab soaked in acetone. Do not use acetone on the vinyl body or face. Clean these with rubbing alcohol.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States.
• McCoy vase, large green leaves with white-and-pink tulips, wide mouth, rolled rim, marked Loy-Nel-Art, 8 inches, $80.
• Napkin ring, boy crawling, stealing bird’s eggs out of nest on top of ring, mommy bird perched on base, marked Meriden Silver Plate Co., $175.
• Green Hornet lunchbox, Hornet driving car on one side, punching bad guy on other, King Seeley Thermos Co., c. 1967 $210.
• Steuben cornucopia vase, Pomona green with amber base, stenciled mark, 8 1/4 inches, $335.
• Madame Alexander Margaret O’Brien doll, brown mohair wig, jointed, tagged outfit, 21 inches, $415.
• St. Charles Evaporated Milk clock, figural, cast-iron cow with clock on side of body, 8 3/4 inches, $425.
• Amish quilt, Triple Irish Chain pattern, blue-and-purple with purple binding, cotton, 1900s, 40 x 52 inches, $610.
• Rabbit candy container, papier-mache, playing baseball, muslin outfit, holding wooden bat, opens at head, glass eyes, Germany, 1890s, 8 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches, $1,035.
• Paddy & the Pig mechanical bank, Paddy holds pig between legs, push lever to deposit coin in Paddy’s mouth, J. & E. Stevens, 8 inches, $1,150.
• French cast-iron baker’s table, white marble top, brass-mounted iron scroll base, casters, 19th c., 39 1/2 x 25 inches, $1,995.
— Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. Names, addresses or e-mail 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, Lawrence Journal-World, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.