Advertising signs sell for big prices

Terry Kovel
Could this sign date from 1889? In small letters at the bottom it says: "Over 50 years on the market," and Uncle Sam and Miss Liberty look Victorian. Is it 50 years from the founding of Kirk & Co.? Or 50 years from the 1930s Proctor & Gamble ownership, in which case, the sign was made in 1980. 

Advertising signs with bold-colored graphics, interesting product names and pictures of Uncle Sam and other patriotic designs sell for high prices. They sell best in the size sometimes called a "sofa picture," since it's big enough to hang between the ceiling and the top of the sofa. Many collectors want advertising for the historic content and authentic pictures of costumes, rooms and occupations and as a way to date popular messages and sayings.

The large, cardboard American Family Soap poster offered recently at a Morford auction in Upstate New York brought $1,652. It was a bright-yellow "sofa-sized" picture of Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty with the slogan, "It is cheaper to buy good soap than new clothes. Every atom cleanses."

American Family Soap was made by James Kirk & Co., a firm that started in 1839. It was purchased in 1930 by Proctor & Gamble, which made the American Family brand for the hard water of the Midwest. They also included a coupon on the wrapper that could be used for gifts. An old wrapped bar of the soap to display with other country items is sometimes offered for sale online for $10 to $15.
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Q. I have a set of china marked "Theodore Haviland, New York, Rosamonde." It includes eight five-piece place settings, sugar, creamer and a few extra pieces. Five pieces are damaged. I also have a couple of other pieces that sort of match the set and probably were bought to fill in for the missing pieces. I know these dishes are old, but I wonder if they are worth anything.
A. Theodore Haviland (1842-1919) was the son of one of the founders of the famous Haviland family that started making porcelain in Limoges, France, in 1842. He came to the United States in 1865 to promote sales and returned to France to work with his brother in the family business in 1879. He left to start his own company, Theodore Haviland & Co., in 1893. Sets of china are hard to sell, often impossible. Damaged pieces have no value. If you want to keep the set, you may be able to find replacements from a matching service. Prices are so low that it is sometimes better to give Haviland to charity.
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Q. I have a Betty Ballard doll from my childhood, early 1950s. She has blond hair, wears a red knit outfit and white plastic shoes, and stands on a heart-shaped stand. I cannot find any information at all on the doll. Can you tell me anything about it?
A. The Betty Ballard fashion doll was a promotional item for the Ballard & Ballard Co. of Louisville, Kentucky. The company, also known as Ballard's Obelisk Flour and Ballard Mills, was founded by Samuel Thurston Ballard and Charles T. Ballard in 1880. Pillsbury bought the company in 1951, and among their products were refrigerated packaged biscuits. Cut-and-sew doll dresses were printed on 10-pound sacks of Ballard Flour. A coupon attached to the sack gave instructions for ordering a fashion doll to wear the clothes. Betty was 11 inches tall and very much like the recently released Barbie doll. She came in a box with a swimsuit, high-heel slippers, jewelry and nylons, and was available with several hair colors and bathing suit styles. The dolls were available from about 1960 to about 1964, when the factory closed. We found one for sale online for $60.
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Q. My husband bought an old cabinet with carved panels from the American Indian Chief (Two Moon) estate in Waterbury, Connecticut. He died in 1933 after traveling the world and bringing back treasures. The estate caretaker said the owner bought it from a London museum. What can you tell me about it? Is there an organization that might be interested in buying it?
A. Chief Two Moon was born Chico Colon Meridan (later changed to Meridas). It's unclear when and where (about 1888), but his parents were from Mexico. His mother's name was Mary Tumoon, perhaps where "Two Moon" comes from. It's said he sold herbs on street corners in Philadelphia. He married and moved to Waterbury, Connecticut, where he began to make and sell herbal medicines. His "Bitter Oil," a laxative, and "Wonder Tonic" were sold by salesmen, mail order and drugstores and brought him patients from all over. He became wealthy and is said to have traveled and bought expensive clothing, furniture, cars and an airplane. Your piece is called a Tudor "court cupboard." It was kept in a prominent room to display important possessions. An auction company that sells period furniture can validate the age of your cupboard. It is either Tudor (1500s to early 1600s) or Tudor style, a reproduction made from 1850 to the 1920s. The original would sell for thousands, the reproduction for much less.
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TIP: Felt-tip markers in shades of brown and black can be used to camouflage a small nick in furniture. You can use several markers and blend the color.
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Buffalo Pottery platter, Willow, blue & white, landscape, temples, boats, trees, patterns, 10 1/2 inches, $10.
Haeger figurine, woman, nude, arm raised, knee out, long hair, head turned, white, 24 inches, $125.
Creil-Montereau jardiniere, flowers, buds, branches, leaves, bouquets, oval, gilt bronze stand, 6 x 12 inches, $220.
D'Argental vase, irises, buds, leaves, brown, cameo glass, 11 1/2 inches, $380.
Battersea box, portrait, George Washington, white scarf, red jacket, yellow base, 1800s, $455.
Arita bowl, white flowers, blue ground, celadon center, lobed, shaped rim, 11 1/2 inches, $595.
Nailsea fairy lamp, green, opal loops, satin finish, three-part construction, scalloped rim, c. 1875, 5 x 5 3/4 inches, $810.
Frankoma figurine, pacing ocelot, black matte glaze, 5 x 8 1/2 inches, $1,010.
Fry Foval vase, trumpet shape, white pulled feathers, blue foot, blue rim, 18 inches, $1,260.
Sideboard, mahogany, satinwood, inlay, bowfront, frieze drawer, pedestals, drawer, fitted cupboard, carved paw feet, 88 x 20 inches, $2,240.
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