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The Party Items of Halloweens Past

October 24, 1998|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Holiday collectibles are becoming more important, so save your paper cups, noisemakers, masks, costumes and other trivia from Halloween.

The pressed-cardboard pumpkins of the 1920s have been replaced by plastic jack-o'-lanterns. If you had a black cat papier-ma^che candy container made before World War II, it would be worth $22 today. A Casper the Friendly Ghost costume from the 1960s is worth $38; a "Maverick" cowboy costume complete with guns is $750. The paper jack-o'-lanterns cost $50 to $225. Old masks sell for up to $400.

Save the new Halloween pumpkins, skeletons, black cats, devils and crepe paper decorations, paper plates, tablecloths and banners. Start a collection that can be used each Oct. 31. It might go up in value.

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Question: I have inherited a simply designed but beautiful antique grandfather clock. The wood appears to be cherry and the top is carved with two scrolls and a central pillar. On the white clock face are floral decorations; the date, 1793; and the name Thomas Balch of Newburyport, Mass. What is the clock worth?

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Answer: The Balch family was one of the first prominent clockmaking families of Essex County, Mass., in the northeast corner of the state. Thomas Hutchinson Balch (1771-1817) was one of two brothers who made up the second generation of clockmakers in the family. Your clock is made in the Chippendale style. It is valuable and should be appraised by an expert who can examine it carefully.

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Q: With Election Day coming up, I was wondering about the value of my silver "bug" pin from the 1896 McKinley-Bryan campaign. The bug's wings pop out, showing miniature photos of Democrat William Jennings Bryan and his running mate, Arthur Sewall.

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A: Your political pin is made of silvered brass with a spring inside that releases the wings. It is the best known of several mechanical shell (stamped metal) badges designed for the 1896 campaign.

There is a companion gold-colored brass pin that pictures the Republican candidates, William McKinley and Garrett Hobart. The silver color symbolized the Democratic Party's support of free coinage of silver. The gold color represented the Republican Party's support of the gold standard. Bug badges were originally priced at a dime each. Today, one that is working is worth more than $100.

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Q: My enameled silver belt buckle is marked with the word "Cymric" plus some small pictures of an anchor, a lion and a letter. The buckle is ornately worked silver with blue and green enamel added.

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A: Your buckle was made by Liberty & Co. of London during the late part of the 19th century. Cymric was one of the trademarks used for Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau silver designed and made at the famous store. The Cymric designs were made until the 1930s.

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Q: My metal leaf-shaped dish has a mark on the bottom that includes the word "Buenilum." Is that the name of a metal?

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A: Your dish is aluminum. Buenilum is a trade name coined in 1933 by Frederic Buehner. Buehner was an artist who immigrated to New York from Germany about 1930. The word "Buenilum" is a combination of the words "Buehner" and "aluminum." Buehner's company, Buehner-Warner, became affiliated with Pfaltzgraff. The company made aluminum, stainless steel and vitreous porcelain giftware until the 1970s.

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Q: I have an 1872 Democratic Party presidential campaign poster measuring about 9 by 13 inches. It was published by the famous printers Currier & Ives. It pictures Horace Greeley of New York and his running mate, Benjamin Gratz Brown of Missouri.

I know the print is original because it has been in my wife's family since the election. The banner at the top says "Liberty, Equality & Fraternity, University Amnesty, Impartial Suffrage." The title at the bottom reads "Grand National Liberal Democratic Banner for 1872." Under it are the words "Entered in accordance with Act of Congress in the year 1872 by Currier & Ives in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, Published by Currier & Ives, 125 Nassau St." I know many people collect political memorabilia, so I'm wondering what the poster is worth.

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A: Nathaniel Currier started a lithography business in New York City in 1835. James Ives became his partner in 1857. The company's prolific output of prints records a pictorial history of the United States. Currier & Ives printed posters for several political campaigns and for many political parties. The company closed in 1907. Your poster is a small one but is valued at more than $200.

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.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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.

* Skeleton pin, plastic bones, spring for neck, metal ring, connector body parts, made in Japan, 1955, 5 1/2 inches: $45.

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