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Trick-or-Treating as Buck Rogers

October 28, 2000|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Halloween memorabilia does not always feature ghosts, goblins and witches. From about 1930, famous figures from radio, movies, sports, politics and television became popular as Halloween costumes, masks and decorations.

In the early years of the 20th century, costumes were homemade. Gypsies, fairies, medieval maidens, animals, scarecrows and the ever-popular witches and ghosts were favored. When masks of papier-mache, gauze or vinyl became available, the costumes often represented characters or living people. Laurel and Hardy, Roy Rogers, Buck Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy and others were imitated with a mask and costume sold as a set in dime stores.

Other Halloween "props" also included caricatures of the famous. Postcards, party favors and bags to carry treats pictured orange-and-black witches, cats and sometimes a celebrity. Collectors today search for the obvious items from the holiday, the black cats and goblins. Less-obvious Halloween pieces that are not in popular colors and that have more modern subjects are the "sleepers" for collectors.

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Question: Have you heard of a glass company called "Gay Fad"? A friend of mine says her 1950s drinking glasses were made by this company. The glasses are marked with the initials "GF," but I still am not sure I believe her.

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Answer: Your friend is telling the truth. Gay Fad Studio opened a factory in Lancaster, Ohio, in 1945. A Detroit woman named Fran Taylor founded the company. She had started hand-decorating metal wastebaskets, canister sets and trays a few years earlier.

They sold well, so Taylor started decorating glass tumblers. The glasses sold even better, so she opened her factory in Ohio. She wanted to be close to several of the sources of glass blanks for her decorating staff.

The factory also turned out glass pitchers, cups, saucers, ashtrays, salad sets and barware. Some glass sets were made to match popular ceramic-dinnerware patterns, like Blue Willow or Currier & Ives. Gay Fad's factory closed in 1965.

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Q My pottery tiles have relief decorations of a Greek goddess with children. The front is marked "H.M." and the back is marked "American Encaustic Tiling Co. Limited, New York, Works, Zanesville, O." Any idea of its age?

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A American Encaustic Tiling Co. worked from 1875 to 1935. It made tiles for floors, walls, fireplaces and more. "H.M." are Herman Mueller's initials. He worked for the tile company from 1887 to 1894.

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Q My mother left me a necklace made from stones of various colors. I don't know whether the jewelry is valuable. It is probably about 50 or 60 years old. The piece is signed "Seaman Schepps."

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A Your necklace is a good one. Seaman Schepps (1881-1972), a native New Yorker, founded a jewelry store in New York City that is still in business. Schepps designed fashionable and sometimes one-of-a-kind bracelets, rings, brooches and necklaces using precious metals and precious and semiprecious stones.

Take your necklace to a jeweler to have it appraised and checked to be sure the stones are not loose. Most jewelers can give you an idea of their value.

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.

* Cat in the Hat puppet, 1970, 18 inches, $45.

* Postcard, black cat on Jack-O-Lantern, 1909, 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches, $50.

* Green Ghost board game, Transogram, 1965, $65.

* Cookie Monster cookie jar, California Originals, box, 12 inches, $80.

* Autumn Leaf mixing bowl, nested, set of 3, $110.

* Evel Knievel Halloween costume with mask, Ben Cooper, box, 1974, $125.

* Blown-glass witch's ball, sapphire-blue, sheared, 1885, 5 1/4 inches, $200.

* Movie poster, "Incredible Shrinking Man," 1957, 1 sheet, $550.

* Norwich Coffin poison bottle, medium amber, tooled lip, 1890, 5 inches, $935.

* Biedermeier game table, walnut, lotus-carved legs, claw-and-ball feet, 1890, 31 inches, $1,700.

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