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Sports Equipment Scores Big Bucks as Valuable Player

September 20, 1997|RALPH and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Don't discard Grandpa's old golf clubs, fishing tackle, baseball gloves, tennis balls or other sports equipment.

Many collectors have been saving baseball cards since the 1950s, but sports equipment was ignored by all but a few. All kinds of sports collectibles now are seen at the most prestigious antiques shows and at many flea markets.

High-end antiques include 19th century golf balls and clubs, large silver trophies, pottery and porcelain figurines and dishes that picture sports events and players, and authentic game-worn uniforms or autographed balls associated with famous players.

Even toys can be of value. Collectors look for nodding-head figures, banks, miniature baseball bats and board games featuring a sport.

Don't overlook oddities such as cast-iron bottle openers, instructional films, posters, golf-ball washers and containers that held equipment.

Scorecards, calendars, can labels, magazines, newspaper advertisements, trade cards and books of matches can be valuable as well. And prints and paintings related to a sport can take on extra value.

A few years ago, a Mickey Mantle's Holiday Inn soap bar in the original wrapper brought $440.

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Q: We have a grand piano manufactured by Decker Bros., New York. There's an 1863 copyright date inside. Can you tell me anything about the company?

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A: Decker Bros. was founded in 1862 by David and John Jacob Decker. The brothers took out their first patent on a piano in 1859. The firm closed in 1893.

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Q: What's the difference between a "stock" trade card and a "national issue"? I thought that they are all printed on "stock."

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A: Advertising trade cards were made by various lithography companies from about 1870 to 1900. The card fronts had colorful illustrations, and the backs were printed with an advertisement for anything from baking powder to shoes. The cards were available free at stores or from salesmen.

The word "stock," in this case, refers to a trade card that was printed in huge quantities with a generic picture. Stock cards were shipped to all sorts of retailers, with their own messages printed on the back.

Stock cards are usually less valuable than "national issue" cards that were commissioned by a single retailer. Their illustrations picture the retailer's product advertised on the back.

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Q: Can you tell me anything about cut glass signed "Fry"? Someone told me Abraham Lincoln encouraged Mr. Fry to make cut glass.

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A: Henry Clay Fry was born in 1840 in Lexington, Ky. In 1856, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he worked as a sales representative for William Phillips and Co., a glass manufacturing company.

While on an 1860 sales trip to Springfield, Ill., Fry met presidential candidate Lincoln. It isn't known whether they discussed glass.

After the Civil War, Fry worked at several glass companies and founded the H.C. Fry Glass Co. in 1901 in Rochester, Pa. The company made cut glass, etched glass, oven glass, kitchenware and the famous pearl art glass called "Foval."

Fry died in 1929, and the company closed in 1933.

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Q: What is a jardiniere?

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A: There are several meanings of "jardiniere."

It could be a large, decorative flower pot.

To collectors of American art pottery such as Roseville or Weller, "jardiniere" means a rounded bowl greater than 20 inches in diameter.

It could be a ceramic pedestal, about 3 feet high, that holds a potted plant.

Potters often made a matching bowl and pedestal. The two pieces were pictured in advertisements as a jardiniere.

Most antiques dealers use "jardiniere" to describe a large bowl. They specify "jardiniere on a pedestal" if it is a two-piece set.

A drooping Boston fern was a popular plant to put in a two-piece jardiniere.

Art pottery jardinieres were especially popular from the late 1890s to 1920.

If you wish other information about antiques, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope, and the Kovels will send you a listing of helpful books and publications. Write to the Kovels, Los Angeles Times, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

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Current Prices

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

* Batman half-gallon ice cream carton, 1966: $75.

* Bausch & Lomb binoculars, 7x50, black, 1942, 7 by 5 inches: $90.

* Masonic Encyclopedia of Free Masonry, Mackey, two volumes: $110.

* Animated clock, swinging girl, marbleized case, electric, Mastercrafters, 1950s: $225.

* Howdy Doody push puppet, wood, jointed, holds NBC mike, mouth opens, Kohner, 1960s, 5 inches: $335.

* Aluminum plate set, 12 brass zodiac symbols in center, Kensington, 12 pieces: $525.

* Roseville candleholders, cherry blossom, two-handled, yellow and white flowers on cream and brown ground, label, 4 1/4 inches, pair: $450.

* Baccarat millefiori paperweight, dancing devil, goose, deer, goat, 1884, 2 inches: $860.

* Michigan Chair Co. Arts & Crafts magazine stand, No. K125, two vertical slats, keys and tenons, original finish, paper label, 33 by 16 1/2 by 16 1/2 inches: $1,000.

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