Nodders - early form of bobble heads

Terry Kovel
There are many collectors of Christmas and Halloween collectibles, but few celebrate St Patrick's Day with a collection of figures. This smiling leprechaun nods his head as he learns that he was bought for $59 at a Bertoia auction in New Jersey.

Bobble heads are popular today as sports collectibles. Most baseball teams offer souvenir bobble-head dolls at some of the games during the year, but today's dolls are made of slick plastic and usually are wearing fabric uniforms.

Early toy bobble heads were made of painted papier-mache. The head bobs up and down because it is attached to a long-weighted neck that's suspended in the neck's hole. It is balanced on a narrow metal rod that swings back and forth, making the head move.

The idea came from 18th-century porcelain figurines that had moving heads and hands. The major German porcelain factories made complicated nodders. One was a group of four women drinking tea while their heads and hands moved. Another was a 20th-century figure of a woman seated in front of a typewriter. Her hands moved up and down as she typed.

This bobble-head figure in a lime-green suit and hat is a 5-inch tall smiling Irish Leprechaun nodder. It was made in Germany of a composition material; his glass eye is winking. He's a charming fellow, but St. Patrick's Day collectibles are not as popular as those for Halloween or Christmas, and there were fewer bids. The buyer paid only $59.
Q: Is it true that furniture from the U.S. House of Representatives is sometimes sold at auction? Who owns the chair used by each elected official?
A: For many years, there were few rules about the furniture that belonged to the government in the Congressional buildings, the White House or other Federal buildings. It is said that President Lincoln's wife sold some of the furnishings because she needed money to live on, as there was no pension for the wife of a president. Now there are pages of instructions about buying and selling official furnishings. Most pieces have to be paid for by the elected official according to a written schedule. We have seen several Victorian chairs from the House of Representatives sold. They were made in 1857 by a famous New York firm, Bembe & Kimbel. They featured three stars carved on the chair crest, and carved oak branches representing longevity and laurel for victory on the arms and legs. In 2008, a chair sold for about $19,000.
Q: Are old Jantzen bathing suits collectible? Sellable?
A: Carl Jantzen and John and Roy Zehntgbauer started the Portland Knitting Co. in 1910 in Oregon to make hosiery and sweaters. So when they were asked to make a knit wool bathing suit for a rowing team, they tried. By 1918 their company was called the Jantzen Knitting Mills, and they were making and licensing bathing suits sold all over the world. They made stylish suits that were nationally advertised, and promoted swimming events. The diving girl logo was created in 1920. All types of clothing made for sports have become collectible, and many serious fashion collections that started with designer gowns now have a division for sneakers and sports uniforms. A vintage swimsuit could sell for $25 to $50.
Q: My grandmother and grandfather got a Three Face cake stand as a wedding gift back in the late 1800s, and I have it now. My daughter doesn't seem to want it - just my Lalique! I love the cake stand, but it's time to be getting rid of things. I want to sell it and wonder what it's worth.
A: Three Face is a pattern designed by John Ernest Miller for George Duncan & Sons of Pittsburgh in 1875. Some sources say Miller's wife was the model for the faces. The factory burned down in 1892, and the molds were destroyed. A new factory in Washington, Pennsylvania, opened in 1893. The company became Duncan & Miller Glass Co. in 1900, and became part of the United States Glass Co. in 1955. Duncan & Miller reproduced some Three Face pieces in the early 1920s and again in the early 1950s. Other companies also made reproductions. The value of a Three Face cake stand depends on which version it is. Many copies were made by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and are marked "MMA." The original piece fluoresces yellow-green under a black light. It sells for about $300-$400.
Q: When I was little, my dad gave me a 3 1/2-inch high teddy bear he got on a trip to Germany. When a knob on the bottom is turned, the head revolves to show two different faces One side has a stitched nose and mouth and metal eyes. The other side has googly eyes, a metal nose and a white metal grinning mouth with a red tongue that sticks out. The bear is amber-colored mohair and has movable arms and legs. What can you tell me about it?
A: This little bear was made by Schuco in the 1950s. The company was founded as Schreyer & Co. in 1912 by Heinrich Schreyer. The name was abbreviated to Schuco and used as the company's trademark beginning in 1921. The little bear is called Janus, after the Roman god with two faces. It sells for $200 to $450, depending on condition.
Tip: Decorated glasses given as promotions at fast-food restaurants often fade in sunlight.
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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
Wooden pie crimper, pastry wheel, shaped turned handle with ball finial, "France" etched on handle, 1960s, $15.
Marshmallow tin, "Strawberry Oberon Marshmallows, Loose Wiles Co.," round with red and gold lithograph, 1930s, 4-inch diameter, $90.
Murano vase, orange creamsicle swirl, free form with in-folding rim, orange, white and clear, Italy, c. 1960, 9 x 9 inches, $145.
Weighing scale, apothocary, cast iron with hand-forged brass container and blue and red paint, Chinese herb store, 15 x7 inches, $170.
Mountaineering pack, back board, hardwood, rope, webbing and adjustable straps, climbing tools, 1940s, 27 x 15 inches, $265.
Lamp, carved cameo, conch shell shaped, etched with Mount Vesuvius volcano scene, tiered round wood base, electric, 1970s, 7 inches, $500.
Advertising sign, "Drink Smile," orange cola beverage, smiling orange, two-sided, bottom flange, vertical mounting, 12 1/2 x 10 inches, $845.
Portrait plate, poet and comedian Moiere, cobalt blue and gilt scalloped border, Sevres, 1853, 11 inches, $1,925.
Carousel decoration, clown head, wood carved and painted, smiling, tall conical hat with pom poms, late 1800s, 13 x 4 inches, $2,300.
Bookcase, oak, Mission-style, open shelves, chamber back, tenon sides, corner section with chain drop door, Stickley, c. 1900, $4,250.
The 50th Anniversary edition of Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2018 will be published in September 2017. The book includes a special new section containing Terry Kovels' reflections on 50 years of collecting, with prices, trends, special events and surprises. Kovels' 50th Price Guide will be available soon at