Archive for Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kovel’s Antiques: Popular clothing line started in sporting goods

March 28, 2010


Only a fisherman would know that this is a mahogany line dryer. The 8 1/2-inch-wide spool with wooden spindles sold for $590 at an auction held by Lang’s Sporting Collectables of Waterville, N.Y. The silver foil label with the initials “A & F” (for Abercrombie & Fitch) added to the value.

Only a fisherman would know that this is a mahogany line dryer. The 8 1/2-inch-wide spool with wooden spindles sold for $590 at an auction held by Lang’s Sporting Collectables of Waterville, N.Y. The silver foil label with the initials “A & F” (for Abercrombie & Fitch) added to the value.

Did you know Abercrombie & Fitch made line dryers for fishing lines? Did you know there was even a need to dry your fishing line? At a recent auction by Lang’s Sporting Collectibles, which specializes in fishing items, a wooden line dryer sold for $590. David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch became partners in a New York City sporting goods store in 1900. Their store had large displays of camp scenes that included camping equipment, a casting pool to let fishermen test gear and a rifle range for hunters. One item for fishermen was a fish line dryer. After a day at the lake, fishing line should be wound on a large, airy reel so it can dry before the next excursion. It should not be wound on your hand because it might kink and later snarl. Many of the dryers look like storage holders for clotheslines to someone who doesn’t use a rod and reel. Collectors interested in fishing look for old rods, reels, creels, lures, tackle boxes, fish decoys and line dryers.

Q: A friend of mine in Turkey shipped me an antique ceramic heating stove because he’s sure it’s American. Sure enough, the plaque on the back says, “Rathbone, Sard & Co., Albany, Chicago & Detroit, Pat.: May 26, 1891.” I don’t know how the stove ended up in Turkey, but ceramic stoves are quite common there. Can you give me any information about the maker?

A: George Sard started working for Rathbone & Co., an Albany, N.Y., stove manufacturer, in 1860. He was just 17 years old. Eight years later he was offered a partnership in the company, which was renamed Rathbone, Sard & Co. in 1873. It went out of business in 1930. The patent date on your stove refers to a U.S. Design Patent issued May 26, 1891, for the design of the outside of your stove. So your stove was made in the 1890s or the early 1900s.

Q: I bought an oak buffet from a neighbor who moved out of state. The label in the back of one of the drawers pictures two Windsor chairs and says, “Windsor Chair Shop, The Owen Sound Chair Co., Ltd., Owen Sound.” The bottom corner of the label is torn off. Any idea where this company was?

A: There’s a town in Ontario, Canada, called Owen Sound. Your label was missing “Ont.,” the abbreviation for Ontario. The Owen Sound Chair Co. was in business from 1912 until about 1937. It manufactured dining room sets, living room suites, office furniture and Windsor chairs.

Q: While cleaning out our basement, we came across a large porcelain figurine my grandmother gave us years ago. I know she bought it in Europe during her travels, but I would like you to identify the mark. It’s a crown with the words “Turn Wien,” “Ernst Wahlis” and “Made in Austria.”

A: Ernst Wahlis owned retail stores that sold Bohemian porcelain in London and Vienna (“Wien” in German) in the late 1800s. In 1894 he purchased the Alfred Stellmacher porcelain factory in Turn, Bohemia (now Trnovany, Czech Republic). The factory manufactured porcelain and marked it with Wahlis’s name. The mark you describe was used from about 1897 to 1906. The factory closed in 1934.

Q: I have a large collection of Dixie Cup lids and premiums from the mid-1930s to the 1950s. Does anyone else collect them?

A: Sure. A few years ago, a collection of 760 Dixie Cup premiums auctioned for just under $8,000. The lids and premiums you’re referring to relate to Dixie Cup ice cream cups, not the paper drinking cups introduced in the early 1900s by Lawrence Luellen of Boston. The disposable cups were named “Dixie” in 1919, and four years later it became the corporation’s name. Then came the introduction of little paper ice cream containers with patented pull-off lids. To help market the new product, Dixie printed pictures on the inside of the lids. From 1930 to 1954, lids featured pictures of movie stars, sports heroes, animals, cowboys, etc. Customers could save the lids or mail 12 of them in for a premium, a larger photo of a real or fictional celebrity. Today a Flash Gordon premium photo sells for about $200 and a Roy Rogers for $100. Price depends not just on the fame of the star, but also the rarity and condition of the photo.

Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. 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.


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.

• Masonic sash, red velvet, beaded woven star design, fringed, three metal rings hold sash together, 38 inches, $48.

• “Supercar to the Rescue” board game, player whose car gets to the disaster scene first wins, Milton Bradley, 1962, $55.

• Herbert Hoover-Al Smith matching mugs, white porcelain, Patriotic Products Association, Philadelphia, 1928, 7 inches, pair, $86.

• Blue Ridge teapot, snub nose, rose bouquet, pink roses on white ground, 2 cups, $95.

• Superman “Super-Babe” doll, composition, sleep eyes, jointed at shoulders, hips and head, snap-on cape, 1947, 15 inches, $375.

• Disney calendar for National Life & Accident Insurance Co., “The Shield Keeps the Wolf from the door,” 3 Little Pigs & Big Bad Wolf, 1939, 16 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches, $495.

• Leather jacket, orange, zipper front, long sleeves, lined, Chanel label, 1970, size 4-6, $510.

• Blown glass fly catcher, bamboo-engraved glass, witch’s ball stopper, 3-footed, c. 1875, 13 inches, $660.

• Sterling silver serving bowl, pumpkin shape, Gorham hallmark, 1947, 9 5/8 inches, $695.

• Chinese red-lacquered scholar’s desk, three parts, top with five drawers, round brass pulls, latticed shelf, squared legs, 19th century, 31 x 67 inches, $4,320.


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