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Collectibles

Campbell Kids' Popularity Began in Early Advertising

ALSO: * The Barcelona chair; * Letang copper mold

October 17, 1998|TERRY KOVEL and RALPH KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Trademark figures are sometimes called the "icons of industry." Premiums that were giveaways now bring high prices.

One popular figure is the Campbell Kid. Joseph Campbell and Abram Anderson started a canning plant in Camden, N.J., in 1869. They did not make the famous soup until 1897.

The Campbell Kids were introduced in ads in 1904. They were designed by Grace Drayton, a well-known book illustrator. In recent years, they have been redesigned. They are now thinner and more athletic-looking.

During the 1930s, many children saved the printed ads that had a cartoon-like picture of the Campbell Kids with a short poem. Postcards and advertising trading cards have also been saved. The first Campbell Kid dolls were made in 1910. Serious collecting did not begin until the 1950s. The first dolls were made of fabric. Most are now in "played with" condition. Rubber squeak dolls were made in the 1930s. The vinyl dolls of the 1950s became collectibles.

The next time you see a Campbell Kid, notice that it has no neck, no ears and no name. The kids are currently available as dolls, cups, blankets, figurines, key chains and plates.

*

Question: Who designed the Barcelona chair? I have seen several references in decorating magazines.

*

Answer: The Barcelona chair is one of the most famous chair designs of the 20th century. Well-known German architect and designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) introduced the chair in 1929 at the Barcelona, Spain, International Exhibition. That is how the chair got its name.

The armless chair consists of two rectangular cushions supported by leather straps. The straps are attached to an X-shaped, but slightly curved, chromium-plated steel frame.

Early German manufacturers changed the construction of the chair. They moved the screws that held the frame together from the outside to the inside of the metal so that they could not be seen.

In 1948, when Knoll International of New York started producing the chair, the screws were discarded in favor of a welded frame. Early German chairs with screws are the most valuable.

*

Q My heirloom copper mold is marked "Marque de Fabrique" around a picture of a cornucopia. Do you have any suggestions about the age and maker?

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A Marie Letang et Fils (Marie Letang and Sons) used the mark in Paris from 1893 to 1897.

*

Q My mother bought a set of etched-gold dinner plates in the 1930s. I'm not sure whether they were new or old. The plates are 10 3/4 inches in diameter, and there are two marks on the bottom. A gold shield says "Pickard." A standing lion in an oval has the words "Hutschenreuther, Selb, LHS, Bavaria."

*

A Your plates date from between 1925 and 1930. At that time, the Pickard Studios Inc. of Chicago (now Pickard Inc.) used the etched-gold coat-of-arms trademark. While your plates were decorated by Pickard, they were not manufactured by the company.

Pickard bought china blanks from all over the world and hired decorators to paint or etch the designs. The Hutschenreuther mark indicates the plates were made in Selb, Germany, by the Lorenz Hutschenreuther Porcelain Factory.

*

Q Is the Chatty Cathy doll as old as Barbie? Was it the earliest talking doll?

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A Both Chatty Cathy and Barbie were made by Mattel. Barbie was introduced in 1959, two years before Chatty Cathy. Expensive talking dolls were made in France during the 1890s. After World War II, Terri Lee Sales of Lincoln, Neb., manufactured a more affordable talking doll that plugged into a record player. In 1950, Ideal made the Talking Tot doll, a key-wind talker. The 20-inch brunet Chatty Cathy was the most successful of all talking dolls. Talking dolls are still being made.

*

Q My mother and I have been collecting Root Mason fruit jars for years because my mother's maiden name is Root. She is originally from Missouri. Some of the jars say "Root" in script letters with the word "Mason" printed below it. Most are light green or blue. We have half-quart, quart and gallon jars and have found most of them in the Midwest. Can you give us any history or value?

*

A The word "Mason" on your jars refers to John L. Mason, a New Yorker who was granted early patents for glass jars and screw tops. The word "Root" refers to the Root Glass Co. of Terre Haute, Ind., which opened in 1901 and was bought by Ball Co. in 1909. Ball closed the Terre Haute plant in 1913.

Root Mason jars range from $4 to more than $100, depending on color. Aqua is common. Olive green and olive amber are rare.

For a listing of helpful books and publications, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope to Kovels, Los Angeles Times, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

Current Prices

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

* Roger Maris Action Baseball game, box top is newspaper front page with Roger batting, black and white, original marbles: $135.

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