Miniature toy icebox fetches $1,440 at auction

Terry Kovel
This toy refrigerator can be dated by the square section that held a block of ice, an early type used from the 1840s. It sold at auction in "unplayed with" condition with a pristine box for more than $1,000.

Children's toys are often miniature copies of full-sized objects in the house. They like to imitate Mom and Dad's work.

A recent Bertoia auction sold the toy icebox with its original pristine box for $1,440. The Gurney toy refrigerator made by Arcade is only 5 1/2 inches high. It is a copy of a 1840s icebox.

Although the first refrigeration method was patented in 1809, the icebox for home use dates from the 1840s. The toy has a square door on the right side that covered the compartment that held a block of ice, which was delivered by an iceman in a horse-drawn wagon. Food was kept in the large compartment, and the small section on the right is where the water from the melting ice was collected and discarded each day.

A modern electric refrigerator was made by General Electric Co. in 1927. It is named for the Monitor Top. It remained popular until the 1940s. Today's refrigerators can be dated by the special section for frozen food introduced in 1924. All of the styles have been copied for toys. 

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Q. I'm trying to find some information on a figurine that belonged to my grandmother. It's a woman wearing an off-the-shoulder, long blue dress, posed as though she's dancing. It's marked "Created by Goldscheider" over a large capital letter "G" and below that "Goldscheider-Everlast Corp." I've seen several that resemble it but not this exact one. Can you tell me an approximate age and value?  

A. Goldscheider was founded by Friedrich Goldscheider in Vienna, Austria, in 1885. Members of the Goldscheider family moved to England and the United States when Germany annexed Austria in 1938 and took over the factory. Goldscheider started factories in Staffordshire, England, and in Trenton, New Jersey. The name of the New Jersey factory was Goldscheider-Everlast Corporation from 1941 to 1947, when it became Goldcrest Ceramics Corp. The Vienna factory was returned to Goldscheider in 1950 but closed in 1953. The New Jersey company is now Goldscheider of Vienna, Inc. It's a wholesaler of religious art imported from Italy. The mark on your figurine indicates it was made between 1941 and 1947. Some of the older figurines made before World War II sell for high prices. An 8-inch Art Deco figurine of a girl playing with a dog sold for $446; an 8-inch figurine of a woman dancing wearing a butterfly costume sold for $235. A 9-inch figurine of a seated woman, designed by Josef Lorenzl for Goldscheider around 1926, sold at auction for over $1,700.  

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Q. I have a stuffed raccoon and two stuffed birds. One is an owl and the other looks like a hawk. Is there a market for these? What kinds of prices would they bring? 

A. Taxidermy (stuffed animals) done by professionals sells at auctions and taxidermy stores. Price is partly determined by the type of mount, size and rarity of the animal, and the setting. Imaginative settings, like a pair of boxing squirrels or frogs playing musical instruments, were popular in the 19th century and sell for high prices. Fantasy figures, combining parts from different animals or adding fantastic elements, are being done by some taxidermy artists today. You should take your stuffed animals to a taxidermy shop to see what they might sell for. If there aren't any in your area, ask at a store that sells hunting equipment.

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Q. My grandfather had several bullets, cartridge cases and tin items that I believe are from the Civil War. Are they worth anything or just an interesting collectible? 

A. Civil War items are collectible, and some are valuable. Some tin items, badges, belt buckles, canteens and personal items, sell for hundreds of dollars or more. Bullets and spent cartridge cases are common and not particularly valuable. If there are markings on the bottom of the cartridge cases, you might be able to identify the manufacturer. Bullets from a known battle sell for a few dollars at historical sites and online, while others are giveaways. Old bullets and other ammunition, especially hand grenades, can be dangerous. If you're not sure they are harmless, take them to the police or fire station and ask them to remove any live ammunition or tell you if they're safe to keep.

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Q. I'm trying to find the age and value of a blob-top bottle that's been in my family since the 1930s. It's blue-green and is 10 inches high with a cork stopper. It's embossed "G. Krueger BWG Co., Newark, N.J., Registered." I'd like to leave it to my great-grandson. What do you think it might be worth?

A. Your bottle was made by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company in Newark, New Jersey. Although the brewery traces its beginning to the 1850s, the name didn't become G. Krueger Brewing Co. until 1875. Blob-top bottles were made by applying a blob of molten glass to the top of the bottle and hand-tooling it to shape. The bottles had a cork stopper and a wire loop to hold the cork in place. They were usually made to hold soda or mineral water. Your bottle was made between 1875, when the company name became G. Krueger Brewing Co., and 1890, when bottles with better closures were made. Bottles like yours have sold for $800, but most are worth $200 to $300. If your bottle has the original cork and wire closure, it might be worth a little more.

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TIP: If a thin chain becomes tangled, dust it with talcum powder and the untangling should be easier.

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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer reader's questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at

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Piano Baby, bisque, child lying on stomach, rosy cheeks, brown molded hair, bare feet, romper, holds pug dog, painted, Germany, c.1900, 9 x 4 inches, $70.

Peking glass snuff bottle, white, yellow & gray overlay, painted relief crickets, oval, Peking glass & beaded metal lid, late 1800s, 2 5/8 x 2 inches, $150.

Fenton carnival glass water pitcher, Fluffy Peacock pattern, ruffled rim, applied green glass handle, c.1910, 9 3/4 inches, $200.

Armoire, Louis XV style, walnut, stepped and arched top, two doors with shaped panels, drawer, iron hinges, France, 80 x 70 inches, $375.

Toy, Flash Gordon Rocket Fighter, No. 5 on fin, red & yellow, tin lithograph, windup, key, Marx, 12 inches, $510.

Sundial, pedestal stand, stone, baluster, octagonal base, zinc dial, "Time Passes, Memories Remain," Roman numerals, gnomon, 36 inches, three pieces, $650.

Weather vane, rabbit, running, cut sheet metal, gilt patina, stand, 16 x 30 inches, $1,300.

Advertising oil can, Camel Motor Oil, 100% Pure Pennsylvania, For Endurance, Long Life, tin, camel, orange blanket with Camel Penn, 5 qt., 9 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches, $1,845.

Bracelet, bangle, hinged, textured 14K yellow gold, 5 bezel-set oval faceted sapphires, modernist, marked, Ed Weiner, 6 1/4 inches dia., $2,320.

Pottery vase, purple volcanic luster glaze, bulbous tapered shape, flared rim, Beatrice Wood, 1950s, 5 1/2 x 4 inches, $2,750.