Brand names that have been used for more than 50 years are popular with collectors. Coca-Cola, Hires, Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Cracker Jack, Aunt Jemima, Heinz, Camels, Lucky Strike, Planters, Levi Strauss, Anheuser-Busch and many others are now so popular that there are special collectors clubs and sales devoted to each famous product.
Not many collectors were interested in advertising items in the '60s. But clever collectors researched the history of a company and realized what was rare. Those collectors were among the first to look for brand-name advertising, so they found the best items at the shops and sales. They bought what they liked, then looked for unusual pieces in good condition. They trusted their own taste.
New collectors can learn from that success story. Those who don't follow the crowd sometimes end up with the most interesting and most valuable collections.
Question My strange wall clock is decorated with the partial figure of a nude lady. She is covered by a swinging feather skirt and a fan that swings to conceal and reveal her bare breasts. The clock is marked "Lux" on the back.
Answer You have a Sally Rand Fan Dancer clock, which was sold at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933.
Sally Rand was a famous entertainer who performed her titillating fan dance 16 times a day at the World's Fair. She was one of the most publicized attractions at the fair.
The Lux Clock Manufacturing Co. of Waterbury, Conn., made many styles of animated wall clocks.
Your clock is worth about $500.
Q I bought a 3-inch piece of glass that's in the shape of a barbell. It has cut decorations. What is it?
A You have a knife rest, made to prop up the blade of a carving knife or cake knife at a formal dinner.
Knife rests made of cut glass, silver or bone were popular with Victorian hostesses, who set a large one such as yours near the head of the table and small individual ones to the right of each place setting.
Knife rests are still being made.
Q I have a round, gold-colored piece of jewelry with a shank on top and a tiny lens through the center. If you hold one end to the light and look through the other end, you can see three Oriental full figures in color.
AYou have a charm or watch fob ornament with a Stanhope inside.
A Stanhope is a slim glass rod with a rounded lens on one end. It magnifies a tiny image on a film disc attached to the other end.
Stanhopes were concealed inside 19th century jewelry, tourist mementos and letter openers.
If the photo inside was risque, the Stanhope was called a "miniature peep-show."
The Stanhope was named after its inventor, the English scientist Lord Charles Stanhope (1753-1816).
Q My yellow-and-white dinnerware is marked "Brock Ware California" on the back. The dishes are decorated with farm scenes such as a girl milking a cow or a rooster on a fence.
A Bert J. Brock founded B.J. Brock & Co. in Lawndale, Calif., in 1947. The company made dinnerware under the trade name "Brock of California." Your pattern, called "California Farmhouse," was the company's first major entry in the American dinnerware market.
The salt and pepper shakers look like milk cans, butter servers like flat irons on trivets, and sugars and creamers like caldrons.
Brock went out of business in 1980.
A California Farmhouse cup with saucer now sells for $8 to $10, a coffee pot for $35 to $40.
Q My large gray stoneware jug is decorated with a blue stenciled eagle carrying arrows. There's a number 4 at the bottom, and around the eagle are stenciled the capitalized words "A. ------AD (illegible), New Geneva, Fayette Co., Pa."
A The name on your 4-gallon jug is "A. Conrad." Alexander Conrad was a stoneware manufacturer who worked in southwestern Pennsylvania from 1870 to 1882.
Old stoneware is popular with collectors. Your jug would sell for $300 to $500.
Q I have several children's books, picture puzzles and paper dolls copyrighted by the Whitman Publishing Co. of Racine, Wisc. Do you have any information on this company?
A Whitman published puzzles, games, paper dolls, coloring books and children's books, including Big Little Books.
In 1916, Whitman became a subsidiary of Western Printing and Lithographing Co., founded in Racine in 1907.
Western Printing and Lithographing became Western Publishing Co. in 1960. It is still in business in Racine.
Western, under the name "Golden Press," publishes Little Golden Books.
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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.
* Homer Laughlin sugar and creamer, Bluebird pattern: $55.
* Pan American Exposition mug, Buffalo, two women, 1901, Tenton Pottery, 5 inches: $85.
* Howdy Doody merchandise catalog, 1955, 20 pages, 8 1/2 x 10 inches: $90.
* Nancy & Sluggo sewing set, original box, 1949, 16 inches: $100.
* Tiffany sterling-silver hair brushes, floral-and-fern design, circa 1892, pair: $275.
* Christian Dior chemise dress, pink linen, jeweled neck, size 10, 1950: $210.
* Hawaiian hula dancer nodder, marked "Lenville China," Ardalt, Japan, two pieces: $395.
* Fiberglass shell armchair by Charles Eames for Herman Miller, orange, on a black-wire cat's cradle base, paper label, 22 1/2 x 25 x 25 1/2 inches: $440.
* Double-weave coverlet, medallions, eagle, Independence Hall border, indigo and white, C.W. Jerman, July 4, 1835, 91 x 77 inches: $630.
* Venini glass bottle with stopper, tall neck, squat base, green and opaque blue, gold-foil label, etched "Venini/Murano/Italia," 14 x 5 inches: $725.