Toy collectors like early comic characters

Terry and Kim Kovel
Collectors like unique examples, even those that are mysteries. This wooden pull toy, a copy of Donald Duck, was possibly made in China in the 1930s. It sold at a Milestone auction in Willoughby, Ohio, for $4,200.

Donald Duck is a Disney character and there are strict laws about copying his likeness, so this wooden toy from the 1930s must be a knock-off. The duck could be a relative, but it certainly is not one sanctioned by The Walt Disney Company.

The wooden pull toy has a place to attach a string. Pull it, and Donald's legs "walk," the wheels turn and the tiny chick bobs back and forth. Toy collectors like early examples of comic characters that are rare and by unknown makers.

This is the only one the Ohio auctioneer has ever seen. It is thought it was made in China in the 1930s. The toy, perhaps an Easter gift, sold on the 57th bid for $4,200, well over the estimate.
Q: I have a McCoy pottery planter that reads "Rodeo" on the side. The McCoy stamp on the bottom is backwards. Does that make any value difference?
A: This cowboy planter was first made in 1956. It was part of a line of Western theme planters and vases. All Rodeo planters evidently were made with the reverse McCoy mark. Perhaps it was a mistake, but it doesn't seem that a corrected run was ever made. The value was about $100.
Q: I have some blue-and-white dishes my grandmother said she took from the dining car on a B & O Railroad trip years ago. I know stolen paintings, ancient relics and other stolen items are confiscated and, if possible, returned to the original owners. Can I put my dishes in an auction?
A: Railroad dining cars and airplanes used to have special dishes made with their names and significant views or logos. And there have been "Railroad China" collectors for years. Some of the china was "liberated" by dinner guests, but much was sold at the railroad's gift shop. Most popular was the Centenary china first used in 1927 by the B & O Railroad for their 100th anniversary. It was so popular they continued to use it for over 50 years, and later, even made copies that were sold at the gift shop. The original, and most expensive for today's collectors, are Centenary pieces with the rectangular "Scammell's Lamberton China Patent Applied For" mark on the back. It was used from 1927 until 1930-31, when the mark was changed to read "Design Patented."
Q: I recently found two old dining room chairs in my attic that I remember using as a child 70 years ago in our dining room. They have an arched back, six turned spindles and a shaped seat. I remember them as having a shiny black finish, but they are very worn. I'm thinking of repainting them, but my son suggests that doing so might reduce their value. Can you tell me what their value is and whether repainting would make them more or less valuable?
A: Repainting or refinishing will lower the value of a piece of furniture if it is a valuable antique, made by a well-known craftsman or finished with a hand-painted technique like grain painting. Your chairs are not very old, probably from the early 1900s. They are worth about $50. So, in your case, repainting them might bring them back to life and raise their decorative value.
Q: I hope you can identify this pen that has been in the family for some time. There is no name on it. I thought it was just a pen, but found out it's a pen/pencil combination. It's been in the family for about 100 years. The ink pen slides out and back and the pencil twists to expose the lead, but it looks like a part is missing at one end of the pen. The only mark is "EPENCO NY" on the pen nib. I found a pen/pencil combination similar to this listed online and it was identified as a "Mabie Todd retracting dip pen & pencil, asking price $279.00." Can you tell me what I have?
A: Combination pens and pencils were popular in the 1930s. Several companies made dip pen-pencil combinations beginning in the late 1800s. Makers designed a variety of innovative ways to make the combinations work. Mabie, Todd & Company was founded in New York by John Mabie and Edward Todd in 1859. If your pen was made by Mabie, Todd & Company, the original nib would have been marked "Mabie Todd." Some Mabie Todd pens are marked on the shaft as well as the nib. Epenco is an acronym for the Eagle Pencil Co., which was founded by German pencil maker Heinrich Berolzheimer in New York City in 1856. Both companies made pens, pencils, pen-pencil combinations, and gold nibs for pens. Since "Epenco" is the only marking on your pen-pencil combination, it probably was made by the Eagle Pencil Co.
Q: I have a print by Henry Aiken and wonder if you could tell me anything about it - the year and someplace besides eBay where I can sell it. 
A: Henry Thomas Aiken (1785-1851) was a British artist known for his pictures of sporting scenes. Some of his oil paintings sell at auction for thousands of dollars, but many original works have been reproduced and are available online for as little as $10 or less. Your print should be seen by an expert to determine if it is an original and what its value might be. If it's an original, it would sell for a satisfactory price at an auction.

Tip: Old, authentic carousel figures almost always have glass eyes or realistic horse-shaped eyes. Reproductions have human-shaped eyes, either Asian or Caucasian.
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
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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.
Cut-glass bowl, hobstars, flared fans, notched miters, strawberry diamonds, 3 5/8 x 9 inches, $20.
Oushak rug, repeating triangular shapes, blue ground, green and blue flower border, 2 feet 7 inches x 6 feet 3 inches, $100.
Hawkes glass, whiskey jug, marquis cut, hobstar band, fans, panel-cut neck, stopper, 15 x 3 3/4 inches, $210.
Mardi Gras parade bulletin, Momus, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Searcy & Pfaff, 28 x 42 inches, $340.
Pewabic, vase, cup shape, magenta, teal, glazed, 4 x 4 1/4 inches, $375.
Dinner gong, brass, wrought iron, relief repousse portrait, Roland A Ronceveux, scrolled support, 32 x 31 inches, $475.
Desk, vargueno, oak, leather, double doors, pierced bronze escutcheons, 59 x 26 1/2 inches, $550.
Silver bowl, filigree, repousse, cornucopia, berry, vine, flower bunting, 15 1/2 x 13 3/4 inches, $690.
Carousel horse, prancer, horsehair tail, leather tack, beige, spots, Armitage-Herschell, 46 3/4 x 13 3/4 inches, $1,560.
Andirons, winged putti, molded, scrolled, gilt, base, urn, oak leaf garlands, 19 x 25 inches, $3,900.
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