Trap Mickey Mouse Toys From the ‘20s and ‘30s


Mickey Mouse is said to have one of the best known faces in the world.

But the cartoon character has changed through the years. His eyes are no longer huge circles as they were in 1928, or pie-cut as they were in 1934. His nose is shorter, and his teeth have disappeared.

Some things haven’t changed. For instance, cartoon Mickey still has four fingers on each hand.

Mickey Mouse was such a hit when introduced in 1928 that he was featured on toys made the next year in the United States and abroad. European toy makers did not bother paying for rights and made many unauthorized toys featuring a five-fingered Mickey who had teeth.


Those old toys are scarce and expensive today. One tin toy, which recently sold for more than $15,000, features a rat-like Mickey and Minnie on a motorcycle. It was made in 1931 by Tipp and Co. of Nuremberg, Germany.

The company, which was founded in 1912, made many tin plate toys, especially cars, planes and military toys until 1942. It started to make toys again after World War II, but was out of business in 1971. The company used a “T.C.” mark.


Q. I just bought a pair of triangular “smoking tables” at an auction. They’re 18 inches tall and have black legs with red and gold tops. Each one holds a heavy, bronze ashtray. The tables look Japanese, but the ashtrays are marked “Tiffany Studios, New York.” Could the tables have been made by Tiffany?



A. The name “Tiffany” is linked with glass, lamps and a retail shop. Louis Comfort Tiffany’s various businesses also made furniture, metalwork, pottery, silver and jewelry.

Many of Tiffany’s table designs reflected his fascination with the Orient.

Tiffany Studios was founded in 1902. Your tables probably were made sometime between 1920 (when smoking tables became popular) and 1932 (when Tiffany Studios filed for bankruptcy).


Q The bottom of my Royal Worcester figurine, First Dance, is marked “Modeled by F.G. Doughty.” Who was Doughty?


A Freda Doughty was the daughter of Charles Doughty, a British travel writer and poet. Her mother was a painter. Freda and her sister Dorothy began working at the Worcester factory in the 1930s.


Freda’s first series was composed of Michael, Tommy, Mischief and Joan. Most of her figurines were children.

Freda retired in 1961 and died in 1972.

First Dance was first made in 1957. It was discontinued in 1980 and reintroduced in 1990. Original versions are worth $200. New versions are worth about $125.


Q Are the original Bartlett prints of America in black and white or are they colored? I have seen both and suspect that the colored versions are later additions.


A. In 1836, William Henry Bartlett went on a tour of the United States. He made engravings of scenes from his trip. They were published in London from 1837 to 1840. Some of the prints were hand-colored with paints made of vegetable dyes.

Some of the plain black-and-white examples have been colored recently because colored prints sell better. Since 1891 the paints have been made of aniline dyes and the colors are brighter and more opaque.


There are also 20th century printed copies of the colored prints. Each print is about 7 1/4 inches by 4 3/4 inches.

Original prints with the old colorings sell for about $150.


Q. I found a bitters bottle in the mountains of Colorado about 35 years ago. It is an aquamarine flask-type bottle, 8 1/2-inches tall. On one edge are the words “Yerba Buena”; on the other, “Bitters, S.F. Cal.”


A. Bitters, a mixture of alcohol and bitter herbs or roots, was sold as “medicine” in the 19th century.

Like other bottles from the 19th century, bitters bottles are popular collectibles.

Collectors have found Yerba Buena bitters bottles in three colors: amber, aquamarine and olive-yellow. Amber bottles are plentiful; the other two are not. Your aqua bottle is worth $150 to $175.


Q. My two “Rayo” lamps must be rare. No one that I know has ever heard of them. Have you? They’re brass table lamps with green glass shades and clear glass chimneys. One is a kerosene lamp marked “Rayo Junior”; the other looks the same, but it’s larger and electric.


A. Rayo lamps, if fueled by kerosene or electricity, were a late brand made by Edward Miller & Co. of Meriden, Conn., and probably later by Bradley & Hubbard and other companies. Both of your lamps date from the early years of the 20th century.

For other information, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope, and the Kovels will send you a list of publications. Write to the Kovels, The Los Angeles Times, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.


Current Prices

Prices are recorded from antique shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary because of local economic conditions.

* “Stars & Stripes & You” sheet music, American flag and woman on cover, 1906: $25.

* “Roy Rogers at the Crossed Feathers Ranch,” Big Little Book, 1945: $35.

* Elly May Clampett fashion doll, Unique, 1960s, 8 inches: $80.

* American flag, 46 stars, hand-sewn stars and stripes, wool and silk, circa 1907, 75 by 40 inches: $110.

* Tootsietoy Navy Waco bomber plane, blue and silver: $195.

* Roycroft hammered copper letter opener, brass wash, “We Reach the Divine Through Some One. . .” motto: $250.

* Gustav Stickley dining chair, No. 1303, upholstered original leather and tacks, 36 1/2 by 19 1/2 inches: $550.

* Saturday Evening Girls dessert plate, incised landscape, trees, blue sky, green center, 1912, ink mark, 7 1/2 inches: $650.

* Steuben glass vase, fan shape, green jade, alabaster stem and foot, 11 by 9 inches: $675.

* Uncle Sam mechanical bank, cast iron, Shepard Hardware, 1886, 4 7/8 inches: $850.