Question: I have an old peanut-vending machine from the Midwest that's about 50 years old. What prices have you seen on such machines?--A.V.
Answer: Dealer and collector prices, depending on condition and the materials with which the machine was made, can vary from $100 to more than $500. Collectors like painted cast iron--and the use of brass or porcelain enhances value.
Particularly popular are the old hourglass-shaped models that dispensed 1 cent's worth of candy or peanuts.
Although many collectors check for original paint, in this particular collectible field there appears to be little aversion to machines that have been repainted over the years. As a rule of thumb, however, it's best to stick with original paint and parts.
Nicknamed the "penny gumball" machine, it seemed to remain popular in this century right up to World War II. Now, such machines have become collectibles as well as decorator items used to add a funky quality to a den.
Q: My father left us an old fire helmet he acquired decades ago from a rural fire department back East. How collectible is it?--N.S.
A: Fire fighter's helmets are sought after by firehouse collectors who usually are prepared to pay hefty prices for originals.
It's not unusual for domestic or foreign helmets using brass and leather materials in their construction to sell for more than $200. Related gear, such as buckets with appropriate fire department emblems, engine name plates and fire extinguishers, also command high prices.
Our inquiry into local clubs that specialize in world's fair memorabilia brought a response from Edward J. Orth of Los Angeles, secretary-treasurer of ECHO--Expo Collectors & Historians Organization (1436 Killarney Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90065). He says ECHO was established in 1976 and that new members can join for $9. Included in the membership is Expo Info, an indexed quarterly guide to fairs, expositions and related collectibles.
New York-based DC Comics Inc. says it's going to revive Superman with a six-issue, biweekly comic-book series this summer entitled "The Man of Steel." Then, the publisher says, "Superman No. 1, The Adventures of Superman," will be released in the fall.
We are told this is all a prelude to Superman's 50th anniversary in 1988 when DC Comics will revitalize the Man of Steel in a regularly issued comic book.
June 20-22--The annual Santa Ynez Valley Antique Show and Sale, sponsored by the Santa Ynez unit of United Voluntary Services, is scheduled at the Veteran's Memorial Building in Solvang. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Antique dealers from throughout California and Arizona will display art, glass, silver, jewelry, prints, furniture and other collectibles. For details, call Mary Lee at (805) 688-5479.
June 21, 22--The 18th annual San Bernardino County Historical Bottle & Collectibles Club show and sale will be at the San Bernardino County Museum, 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands. Everything from soda and medicine bottles to fruit jars and flasks will be on display, according to the club's announcement. The club, writes president Phyllis Kemble, "is one of the three oldest bottle clubs in Southern California and is very proud to host the annual show and sale, which is attended by collectors and dealers from all over the state." For more information, call Gary and Sheran Johnston at (714) 823-9564. Admission by cash donation.
Ronald L. Soble cannot answer mail personally but will respond in this column to questions of general interest about collectibles. Do not telephone. Write to Your Collectibles, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.