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Collectibles

Smoking, No--Accessories, Yes

October 21, 2000|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Smoking seems to have lost favor, but smoking accessories are hot collectibles. Lighters, cigarette packs, cigar labels, pipes, ashtrays, advertisements and cigarette boxes are just some of the items sought by collectors.

Cigar labels and old ads sell quickly, and often for high prices. Lighters have been popular as collectibles in all parts of the world for about 20 years. Old Zippo lighters from World War II; expensive gold, silver or jeweled lighters; and figural lighters are in demand in shops and on the Internet. A good lighter can cost more than $500.

Ashtrays are still inexpensive. Ceramic ashtrays with hotel names sell for a few dollars. Pottery ashtrays in modern shapes run from $12 to $20, while enameled-metal ashtrays sell for $30 to $50. Glass ashtrays are usually sold for $1 to $10.

The "smoking" ashtrays are the most expensive. These are figural ceramic ashtrays with a hole in the side to hold a burning cigarette. The smoke rises and exits through another hole in the ashtray.

Some had the smoke coming out the top of a tepee or even the nose of a bull. This is a collectible that often turns up at garage sales. Ceramic ashtrays with a name brand like Sascha Brastoff, quality glass ones like Baccarat, or chrome ashtrays can be worth more than $50 each.

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Question: I have a 9-inch-high chocolate pot that seems to be an ad. On the side is a picture of a lady in an 18th century dress with an apron. She is carrying a tray of chocolate cups. The words "Walter Baker & Co. Ltd. Dorchester, Mass." are printed below. It is marked "Altrohlau, Austria" in a shield.

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Answer: Your pot was made as a promotional piece for Baker Chocolate sometime between 1886 and 1917. The mark was used during those years by Charles Ahrenfeldt & Son, a porcelain-decorating firm in Altrohlau.

Walter Baker Chocolate Co. was founded in 1765. It is still in business. The picture on your chocolate pot shows "La Belle Chocolatiere," a design based on an 18th century painting that is now in a Dresden, Germany, museum.

Legend says that an Austrian prince saw a waitress in a coffee shop, fell in love and married her. He had the portrait painted so he could always remember how she looked the day they met.

The painting was adapted for use as the trademark of the Walter Baker Chocolate Co. The pot is worth about $200.

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Q: My mother called my old wooden magazine rack her "canterbury." It is a low "stool" with short legs on wheels and a drawer. The top part has a series of wooden railings that holds magazines. She says it is 200 years old. I wonder what kind of magazines she had.

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A: You probably do have a canterbury. It originally held bound volumes of sheet music. It was named for the archbishop of Canterbury who, it is said, devised the shape in the late 18th century.

It was short and had wheels so it could be rolled under the piano when not in use. There is also another meaning for the word canterbury: It was a tea cart and had partitions to hold silverware. Today the word usually refers to the sheet-music holder.

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Q: Because I saved a couple of pocket-size transistor radios from the 1960s--my teenage years--I started to collect more of them. What should I look for?

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A: The first commercial transistor radio, the pocket-size Regency TR-1, was introduced in 1954 by Industrial Development Engineering Associates of Indianapolis. It was small and tubeless, and it didn't work well. Soon other American companies were making higher-quality transistor radios.

By 1957, Japanese models were being sold. Collectors look for transistors made between 1954 and 1965, even if they don't work. The best are the pre-1964 radios whose dials have civil defense triangles or some other marks showing where to tune in the event of a Soviet attack.

Collectors also like radios with colored rather than black or white cases. You can find many transistor radios for less than $100.

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Q: What is a carriage clock?

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A: The carriage clock was first made about 1800. Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) probably was trying to help Napoleon's officers keep accurate time while traveling. The clocks had a special mechanism that helped withstand the bumps of a stagecoach.

A simpler clockwork was developed later, and the carriage clock became less expensive. France soon began exporting thousands of the clocks. The carriage clock was small enough to carry and had a handle. It was usually in a rectangular case.

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

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

* Glacier National Park label, slogan "See America First," goat on mountain, plus Great Northern Railway logo, color, 1922, 4 3/4 inches, $26.

* Annapolis Zia Cigarette silk, 1913 Naval Academy, school song, school yell, emblem and mascot, 4 by 5 1/2 inches, $38.

* Steiff curly mohair Zotty bear, glass eyes, jointed, excelsior stuffing, embroidered nose, tan pads, 1950s, 11 inches, $175.

* Coin-silver presentation mug, engraved "Albert Henry Minot, from grandmother 1851," tapering form, reeded top, 4 inches, $175.

* Alphabet figure blocks, paper lithograph on wood, one side features child, other is animal, Schoenhut, c. 1900, 2 by 5 inches, $225.

* Montgomery Ward's Anniversary Barbie doll, 1972, Ponytail Barbie, brunet hair, red lips, black-and-white knit swimsuit, $355.

* Teco pottery vase, cylindrical form, four buttressed handles, yellow matte finish, marked, 6 1/2 by 2 1/4 inches, $1,045.

* Handel desk lamp, reverse-painted shade, autumn landscape, bronze, c. 1915, 12 inches, $1,800.

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