Plato Timepiece a Logical Invention


Over the centuries, time has been measured in many ways. Early clocks were candles marked in segments, or sundials. Clocks with a dial divided into 12 parts, with two hands that indicate the hour and minute, date from the 1400s.

In 1902 a novelty clock was patented that resembled a lantern. Flipping numbered cards displayed the time. The clock had a brass stand and handle, with a glass cylinder enclosing the cards. The unusual clock was named the Plato because the famous Greek philosopher Plato was said to have carried a lantern shaped like the clock while he was “looking for an honest man.”

The Plato clock, patented by Eugene Fitch of New York City, probably was made by the Ansonia company in Brooklyn.


Plato clocks were popular. The American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Co. of New York City had sold more than 40,000 by 1904.

Later, the American Ever Ready Co.--makers of the well-known batteries--helped finance and market the clocks as “Chronos Clocks, Ever-Ready Productions.” The clocks were made with metal cases of various finishes, including lacquered brass, polished nickel plate, gilt, silver plate and copper plate.

Reproductions have been made.


Question: My mother’s toddler doll dates from about 1925. The doll is 26 inches tall with human hair. It is wearing the original white organdy dress. She has composition arms, legs and head and a cloth body that holds a small record player. I still have the original records. They play children’s songs, including “London Bridge” and “Rock-a-bye Baby.” The only mark I can find is on the records. It says, “Averill Manufacturing Co., New York City, U.S.A.”


Answer: Your mother’s doll was called Dolly Rekord. The cloth body was originally stamped “Genuine Madame Hendren Doll 26.” “Madame Hendren” was a brand name used by Averill, the doll’s manufacturer.

Dolly Rekords were made from about 1922 to 1928. Averill made dolls from about 1913 to 1965, when it went out of business. Your mother’s doll is worth $550 to $650.


Q I found a Dumbo cookie jar in an attic. It is all white and pictures two different poses of the Disney elephant. The bottom is marked “Patented Turnabout 4 in 1, Dumbo, Walt Disney.”


A The Leeds China Co., a Chicago distributor, was licensed by Walt Disney to market “turnabout” Disney-character cookie jars from about 1944 to 1954. Most of the jars show a character on one side and another character on the other. The Dumbo jar shows two views of the young elephant.

The jars were molded and glazed by another company and sent to Leeds for painting.

Yours is worth more than $100.


Q I have a red Hubley cast-iron racer with a driver. It is 6 1/2 inches long. When was it made?


A The Hubley Manufacturing Co. of Lancaster, Pa., was founded about 1894 to make electric toy-train equipment and parts. After the company was sold in 1909, it made cast-iron toys, hardware and novelties.

When your racing car was made in the 1930s, Hubley was among companies that dominated the American market for cast-iron toy autos. Hubley stopped making cast-iron toys in 1942.


Q We took the fabric cover off the back of an old wooden folding chair and found a painted cigarette ad. There’s a close-up picture of a woman’s face and the words “Duke’s Cameo Cigarettes.” How old is it?


A That chair is more than 100 years old.

W. Duke Sons & Co. was a Durham, N.C., tobacco company owned by James Buchanan “Buck” Duke and his brother Benjamin Newton Duke. They established their first tobacco factory in 1874.

Cigarettes became popular by the late 1800s. Buck Duke saw potential in the product, and by 1888 he had captured more than 40% of the American cigarette market.

Two years later, the company and four of its rivals formed the American Tobacco Co.

Cameo was one of Duke’s most famous cigarette brands. It was introduced in 1884.

The U.S. government forced the American Tobacco Co. to break up in 1911.

For a copy of the Kovels’ 1998 leaflet listing 153 books and pamphlets that are price guides for all kinds of collectibles and antiques, send $2 and a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) No. 10 envelope to: Price Guides for Antiques and Collectibles, Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, Ohio 44122.

Current Prices

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

* California Nugget Chop Cut Tobacco pocket tin, flat, yellow and red and green, 4 1/2-by-2 3/4-by- 3/4 inches: $65.

* Hamilton Beach mixer, No. 18: $165.

* Harley-Davidson 1930s official helmet, flight style, brown leather, button-snap chin strap, orange woven label inside “The Mark of Quality”: $180.

* Stieff sterling silver sugar casters, baluster form, circular foot, reeded rims, knobbed finial, 9 1/4 inches, pair: $460.

* Cowan vase, Arabian Night, blue glaze, designed by Viktor Schreckengost, 6 1/4 inches: $550.

* Gilbert Rohde dressing-table vanity, wood veneer, three drawers, asymmetrical, 1930s, 65 inches: $610.

* Perfume bottle, Allez Hop, figural, small dog, clear glass, frosted stopper, enameled black-and-white head, signed, Jovoy Paris, 1924, 11 inches: $1,585.