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Making the Jump to a Frog Menagerie

August 21, 1986|RONALD L. SOBLE | Times Staff Writer

Question: We have an unusual assortment of collectible frogs--doorstop frogs, banks shaped like frogs, a frog cookie jar and more. How collectible are they?--G.C.

Answer: People collect owls, so why not frogs? In any case, we've heard from other frog-memorabilia collectors before, and, although the little critters aren't at the cutting edge of collecting, they do attract some interest.

We've seen, for example, mechanical frog banks advertised in dealer catalogues for a couple of hundred bucks, frog Christmas tree ornaments offered for $10 or more a pop and old Cracker Jack toy jumping frogs for $12 or more. And there are such items as carved frogs and frog molds.

And don't forget frog characters made popular by animation artists who draw for television and film. And then there's Kermit, the frog of "The Muppets" shows. Such productions have spawned collectible drawings and animation cels.

Q: How important in newspaper collecting is the front page of an old paper? A couple of papers in my collection have damaged front pages or no front page at all.--N.D.

A: To collectors, the front page counts for at least more than half of the paper's value. One reason is that collectors like to display the front page. And the front-page banner headline--whether it recounts a president's death or a landmark sports event--greatly enhances the collectible value.

Interestingly, collectors say it is usually easier to preserve older newspapers--papers printed in the 17th through the 19th centuries--than papers of more recent vintage because of the higher quality of newsprint that was used. Papers, they say, should be stored in polyethylene bags, laid flat and kept away from bright sunlight.

Q: How important is it to have the key to a collectible padlock?--K.E.

A: An antique lock can increase in value if it is offered with its original key. But lock collectors say this is not absolutely necessary and many collectors don't care whether a valuable padlock has a key.

What collectors do look for are padlocks that might have some history attached to them, such as old railroad locks or locks manufactured by such old-line firms as Yale & Towne or Eagle.

Prices can be steep; it's not unusual for padlocks to sell for $100 or more if they are in good condition and can be authenticated.

Date Book

The All-American Collectors Show and Sale will include gum-ball and slot machines, mechanical banks, dolls, calendars, tin cans, advertising memorabilia and antiques. It runs Saturday noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. (213) 392-6676. General admission is $3; children 11 and under pay $1.

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