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Valuable Toys Toot Own Horns


Toys continue to entice collectors of all ages. The most popular and most expensive are those that are made of metal, have colorful decorations and move and make some type of sound.

Toys representing any type of transportation are especially prized. Those that are humorous or related to cartoon characters also are in demand.

One of the best-known makers of tin toys was Ernst Paul Lehmann of Brandenburg, Germany. Lehmann began working in 1881 and died in 1934. His firm continued making toys after his death.

One famous Lehmann toy was called "the balky mule." The toy mule kicks while pulling a decorated cart driven by a clown. The key-wound toy was so popular that it was made for more than 40 years.

It is claimed that Lehmann saw himself as a balky mule. He felt that he was hard to get along with and was stubborn. He had a kicking mule pictured on a tile that decorated his factory's front entrance.

Question: How can I tell the difference between a hatpin holder, a saltshaker and a sugar shaker? Are sugar shakers still made?

Answer: Hatpin holders were made from about 1860 to 1920, when hatpins were most popular.

Some hatpin holders look like saltshakers or sugar shakers. There are clues to help tell the difference.

Salt and sugar shakers usually have domed tops; hatpin holders usually have flat tops. Hatpin holders usually have flat bases, and if they have a hole in the bottom, it's small; salt and sugar shakers have a welled bottom with a large hole for a cork. The well helped to catch any overflow of salt or sugar as it was poured.

Sugar shakers, which are larger than saltshakers, are still made. You can find them in diners and country-style restaurants.

Q: My Dick Nixon wall clock has a kitschy '70s look, but it's so strange I like it. On the face, there's a caricature of President Nixon wearing a Superman costume.

Are other presidents and politicians pictured on clocks? I might start a collection.

A: U.S. presidents have shown up on clock faces since the turn of the century, when the likeness of President McKinley was featured on several clocks.

The Ingraham Clock Co. of Bristol, Conn., offered six patriotic oak kitchen clocks, including a McKinley clock, in its 1901 catalog.

Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were featured on several metal mantel clocks.

The faces or names of all the presidents since Dwight Eisenhower have made it onto a wide variety of clocks, from tasteful gift items to gaudy alarm clocks.

All such clocks are popular with collectors.

Q: I bought a vintage western-style Stetson. It's made out of soft felt. How do I clean it so I can wear it?

A: If you wear your hat, make sure your hair is clean and dry.

Serious collectors, fearing perspiration and rain, never wear their hats.

Dust your hat daily with a softbristled brush--light bristles for a light hat, dark bristles for a dark one.

You can use a damp bath towel to remove any dust that remains. Rub the towel on the hat in a counterclockwise motion.

Gently rub non-oil stains counterclockwise using a soft, small-pored sponge, an art-gum eraser or--for deep stains--very fine sandpaper.

For oily stains, brush first, then use Fuller's Earth, a cleaning powder available at hardware stores. Let a one-eighth-inch layer of the powder sit on the stain for two to three hours, then brush it off.

Perspiration stains penetrate the felt and require professional attention.


Current Prices

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.

* Bronze-colored letter opener, handle embossed as ticket to "Fiddler on the Roof," 1972, 7 1/2 inches: $25.

* General Electric tape measure, 1920 refrigerator: $55.

* Oven shovel, hand-forged iron, circa 1800, 28 1/4 inches: $110.

* Play set, house trailer, yellow and red, rubber-rimmed metal wheels, fitted wooden compartments and furniture, 1930s, F.A.O. Schwartz, 15 inches: $175.

* Hartland figurine, Davy Crockett with Streak the horse, coonskin cap, green-and-black saddle, long Kaintuck rifle and knife: $375.

* Smith Bros. toothpick holder, ribbed, white ground, pink wild rose, blue leaves, blue beaded top, 3 inches: $495.

* Shaker sewing table, pine and maple, two-board top, turned legs, circa 1840, 28 by 20 inches: $550.

* Bradley & Hubbard table lamp, ivory slag glass panes, brass frame with embossed floral pattern, 22 by 18 inches: $610.

* Wilkinson Toby, Winston Churchill, "And May God Defend the Right" one side, "Going Into Action" on reverse, 12 inches: $1,035.

* Fishing reel, German silver, by T.H. Bates, New York City, circa 1860: $1,265.

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