Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Collectibles

Old Phonographs Play Well Today

September 09, 2000|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There are several reasons why old phonographs are selling for high prices. Collectors are showing a growing interest in technology antiques and early mechanical devices. There is also a need for working phonographs that can be used to play the old records that are collected by music historians.

The first talking machine was made in 1877, but some of the ideas behind it were borrowed from earlier experiments by other researchers. Nineteenth century record players had records that were either cylinders or extra-thick "platters," but they were discontinued in 1929.

The standard LP record was used after 1929. One strange type of machine that played a disc record was made in the United States. It used two horns to carry the sound. The large horns took up space, and soon a smaller horn that could not be seen was built into the machine.

*

Question: Can you tell me anything about my Rand McNally globe? I've had it for about 30 years; the map appears to be much older. Iran is even labeled "Persia." The globe is 18 inches in diameter and sits in a tall, 4-footed, wooden floor stand. Do people collect old globes? How old is mine and what is it worth?

*

Answer: Rand McNally was founded in Chicago in 1856. They made their first globe in 1887. In 1935, the government of Iran asked that the country be referred to as Iran rather than Persia. So we know that your globe dates from sometime between 1887 and 1935.

You can get a better idea of the date by looking more closely at the names of other countries. It would be helpful to compare it to maps of Europe before and after World War I.

Globes like yours sell for hundreds of dollars. Some are worth much more, depending on the age, condition and beauty of the stand.

*

Q What can you tell me about a porcelain figurine that's marked "Cordey" in script? It appears to be hand-painted and well-made.

*

A A Polish artist named Boleslaw Cybis founded the Cordey China Co. in Trenton, N.J., in 1942. Cordey figurines look much like Staffordshire or other European imports. The company also made lamps, vases, candy dishes and other gift-shop items.

Cybis gave up control of the company in 1950 and founded Cybis Porcelain Inc. He died in 1957.

Your figurine should have a mold number and an artist-identification number on the bottom. If it's in excellent condition, it is worth more than $100.

*

Q You recently answered a question about a folding candle lantern. Your reader described the lantern's windows as "isinglass." I think that it was made of mica. Isinglass is made from the bladder of fish and would probably burn.

*

A If you look up the word "isinglass" in a dictionary, you will find at least two definitions. The first is for a gelatin prepared from the air bladders of fish that's used to make jellies and glue. The second definition is "mica, especially when in thin, transparent sheets." This is the definition of isinglass that applies to the lantern's windows.

*

Q When my father worked at a New York advertising agency in the early 1950s, he was given a cast-iron ashtray decorated with a firefighter and the words "Iron Fireman." Do you have any idea what the boots and name represent?

*

A You have an "advertising ashtray." Iron Fireman is a company based in Niles, Ill., that makes burner and boiler products. It was founded about 1900 as a manufacturer of coal stokers.

Today it is a division of a larger company, Vapor Power Group.

The advertising agency your father worked for might have done ads for Iron Fireman. Advertising ashtrays are always in demand by collectors of advertising and ashtrays.

*

Q How can I tell real from fake glass? I collect Victorian colored-glass rose bowls.

*

A The colored glassware made in the last half of the 1800s has been copied many times. Very accurate copies were made in the 1920s and '30s in Europe and Mexico.

In the 1950s, a new batch of colored glassware was made for gift shops, but these pieces were often slightly different in shape or color.

Visit as many shops and shows as you can and handle the glass. Some will feel slightly greasy--an indication of early glass.

Old pieces, especially rose bowls, almost always have a rough pontil or scar on the bottom. New Asian imports made in the past 20 years usually have a smooth, flat base.

Look for wear on the bottom. The glass will scratch when dragged across a table, and that indication of wear suggests that it is not new. But the scratches should go in several directions.

If the wear is even, the scratches in line, it might be artificial aging on a new piece.

Learn to recognize the old shapes by looking in museums or books. Study the catalogs of reproductions offered for sale to dealers. Ask questions when you buy a piece.

A dealer who specializes in art glass can tell you what features prove whether a piece is old or new.

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

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|