Interest in Easter collectibles increasing

The popularity of Easter greeting cards emerged in the late 1890s.

Many of the first Easter cards were postcards, often picturing chickens, eggs, rabbits, children, birds, flowers, religious subjects, sun-filled landscapes or even buildings. The most interesting Easter postcards for collectors are those used in the United States from about 1910 to 1920. Most of the cards were printed in the United States or Germany. They were lithographed, colorful and often embossed, some with thin gold cutouts.

Holidays are becoming an area of great interest to collectors. Christmas and Halloween are already popular, and prices are rising. Easter collectibles still can be found for bargain prices at flea markets and garage sales. Look for candy containers, decorated ceramic or papier-mâche eggs, and figurines. Also look for commercial packages with Easter decorations, such as cottage-cheese containers, and for postcards, greeting cards, advertising signs, photographs of egg hunts, religious memorabilia and any other items that picture the Easter story or traditions.

Q: I have a large set of chimes that belonged to my grandfather. He gave concerts with them in the early 1900s. When they’re set up on two floor racks, the chimes are 7 feet tall, with 10 chimes on the top row and 18 on the bottom. One of the chimes is marked “J.C. Deagan, Pat. May 21, 1901.”

A: You have a set of Deagan “organ chimes,” sometimes called “shaker chimes.” Sound is produced by shaking the chimes. John Calhoun Deagan (1853-1934) was a musical genius who improved and later developed many percussion instruments. He started his company, J.C. Deagan, in the 1880s. His name is used as a trademark on some Yamaha percussion instruments. Not many sets of Deagan organ chimes were made. They were expensive ($650 for the large set) and cumbersome. But they were available for sale until the early 1920s and were marketed as “the greatest novelty instrument ever invented.”

Q: When I was a child about 60 years ago, I was given a toy gun that I still have. It is made of heavy metal and is about 6 inches long. I still have one roll of the ammunition — a small roll of plain paper, not caps. The gun made a “bang” noise when the trigger was pulled. I don’t have the box it came in, but the following information is on the gun: “Super Nu-Matic, LMCO, U.S. Pat No. 2,083,535.”

A: “LMCO” stands for Langson Manufacturing Co., of Chicago. Langson manufactured a few different styles of the Super Nu-Matic toy gun. The patent number on yours was issued in 1937. Langson sold the toy guns from 1939 into the 1950s. The “paper buster” ammunition made a “bang” sound because the gun’s trigger created a pocket of compressed air that exploded through the paper. Langson toy guns now sell for $10 to $25 or more, depending on condition. If the gun were in its original, unopened package, it could be worth close to $100.

Q: My grandmother left me a ceramic pedestal bowl. It has a narrow brown rim, a wide yellow border embossed with grapevines, then three circles of color in the middle, each with a different embossed design. The mark on the bottom of the pedestal is a drawing of a cup, with the initials “GS” astride the word “Zell.” When was the bowl made, and by whom?

A: Your pedestal bowl is a piece of majolica — earthenware decorated with opaque tin enamel glaze. The mark you describe was used by the Georg Schmider United Zell Ceramic Factories in Zell-on-Harmersbach, Germany, between 1907 and 1928. The company is still in business.

Q: My grandparents left us a wooden smoker stand 45 years ago. It’s painted red and has a floral decal on the door. Inside the door is a tin-lined compartment with a perforated tin holder for cigarette papers. Below the door there’s a single shelf, and on the top of the stand there’s a sunken ashtray. A paper label under the shelf reads “Cushman Smoker, No. 538, No. Bennington, Vermont.” What can you tell us?

A: The H.T. Cushman Co.’s history dates back to 1862, when Henry Theodore Cushman started manufacturing corks in North Bennington. Cushman gradually diversified his product lines. By the 1880s, his company was making various novelties, including pencil boxes, and selling them by mail. He started manufacturing small pieces of furniture, such as hatracks, coat racks and folding screens, later in the 19th century. He added telephone stands and smoker stands in the early 1910s. The smoker stands were designed to store smoking accessories — everything from ashtrays and humidors to cigarette papers and cigar cutters. Smoker stands lost favor in the mid-1920s. Cushman smokers sell for $150 to $300, depending on style and condition.

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.Cambridge glass relish dish, Emerald Green, keyhole handle, 6 inches, $30.Penny loafer shoes, black leather, G.H. Bass, 1960s, size 7, $45.Rabbit candy container, rabbit eating carrot, T.H. Stough, c. 1947, 5 inches, $60.Liberty Loan Victory poster, paper lithograph of WWI soldier holding child with wife by side, artist-signed, Alfred Everett Orr, 1918, 27 x 37 inches, $95.Bunny pull toy, tin lithograph, 4 wheels, eccentric action, Lindstrom, 5 inches, $120.Yellowware rabbit dish, molded garland on base, rabbit with petal handle on lid, wooden strainer insert, 12 x 5 1/2 inches, $315.Dedham creamer, Rabbit pattern, trumpet neck, bulbous, white ground, No. 8, 3 1/2 x 3 inches, $485.Irish silver wine funnel, with strainer, Dublin, George IV, 1829, 6 x 3 inches, $800.Black doll by Beecher, stuffed stockinette cloth, painted and embroidered facial features, black button eyes, black fleecy yarn hair, calico dress and sunbonnet, c. 1895, 20 inches, $1,065.Sideboard, rectangular top, 3 drawers over 3 sliding doors, natural burlap fiber on doors, Edward Wormley for Dunbar, c. 1950, 32 x 81 x 18 inches, $2,820.