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Ad Clocks: Free Then, but Costly Now

September 23, 2000|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Just as in the past, today's advertisers want to put their message in front of buyers. The places chosen for ads are often unexpected.

From about 1870 to 1900, clocks placed in public spaces like barbershops or drugstores were popular with advertisers.

The earliest clocks were wooden with a pendulum or a spring mechanism. Later clocks were electric with metal cases or, since the 1940s, plastic cases. The advertising clock is still used, but it might have lights or neon trim.

The wooden clocks rented or lent to barbershops often displayed ads for razors. Many, like the Gem Damaskeene Razor clock, pictured a man shaving.

On the Gem clock, the man has a small mirror, shaving mug and brush perched on the arm of a chair. With one hand he's shaving, while the other hand holds a squirming baby who has grabbed the man's towel. The clock was made by Sessions of Forestville, Conn., in about 1910. This rare clock is worth more than $4,000.

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Question: I have inherited a marquetry center table from my grandparents. They purchased the table decades ago when a Chicago mansion was being torn down and all its furnishings sold. The table is in the Renaissance Revival style and is made of walnut with walnut veneers. A faded paper label under the tabletop is hard to read, but I believe it reads "George Gilbert, 261 Wabash, Chicago."

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Answer: George Gilbert probably owned a retail furniture store at the Wabash Avenue address. The style of your table was popular during the 1870s and '80s. Many similar tables were made in the Midwest, especially in the furniture-making center of Grand Rapids, Mich. Depending on the workmanship and condition of your table, it should sell for $1,000 to $2,500.

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Q My sister and I have been cleaning out our parents' home and found an old "Dick and Jane" reading book we used in grade school in the late 1940s. It's hardcover and titled "We Come and Go." Is it worth anything today?

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A The 1946-47 edition of your book is valued at close to $50. The most valuable "Dick and Jane" book is the first in the series. It was a pre-primer published in 1930 by Scott, Foresman and Co. of Illinois. By the 1950s, more than 80% of U.S. first-graders were using the series to learn how to read. The "Dick and Jane" books included pre-primers, readers and workbooks. The series, which was regularly updated, was published into the 1960s.

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Q My glass vase, which is clear with gold trim, has a faint mark--"Moser"--on the bottom. When and where was it made?

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A Moser glass was made by Ludwig Moser in Karlsbad, Austria. He decorated and sold glass by 1857 and soon had three shops. The glass pieces were purchased locally, then embellished with cut, engraved or enamel decorations. By 1873 he had showrooms in New York, St. Petersburg, Paris and London. In 1895, his company began making the glass as well as decorating it. The company is still working in Karlsbad, Czech Republic.

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Q We have an early-American pewter plate that has been handed down for generations. Our family documents lead us to believe the plate might date from the 1670s. It is plain and measures 8 1/2 inches in diameter. There are three marks stamped on the back. One reads "Thomas" above an eagle and the partial name "Badg . . ." The second reads "Boston," and the third is illegible. Is it possible for you to date and value our plate?

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A Unfortunately, your plate is not 300 years old, but it is a nice family heirloom. According to most experts, the only piece of American pewter that can be dated before 1700 is a mutilated spoon found in Jamestown, Va. The marks on your plate were used by Thomas Badger Jr. (1764-1826), a pewterer who had a shop on Prince Street in Boston from 1779 to 1815. He made plates in many sizes, ranging from 7 3/4 to 15 inches in diameter. Your 8 1/2-inch plate is worth $300 to $400.

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.

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Current Prices

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

* Heddon fishing lure, minnow, underwater, red scale finish, glass eyes, No. 150, 4 inches, $175.

* Ice cream scoop, Dover Clipper No. 20, patented February 1924, 8 inches, $290.

* Mattel Barbie doll, ponytail, red jersey swimsuit, high heels, pearl earrings, 1962, $390.

* Planters Peanuts, Spanish peanuts, salted, box, waxy cardboard, blue box, red center with World War I plane, 1944, 9 by 6 by 3 inches, $415.

* Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform, wool blouse and hat, belt, boots, 1960s, $510.

* "A Handful of Fun" book, paper, yellowed, shape of Mickey Mouse's gloved hand, 12 pages, Eisendrath Glove Co., WDE, 1935, $945.

* High chair, ladder back, three arched slats, turned finial, rush seat, Pennsylvania, 1800, 38 inches, $3,100.

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