Babies popular theme around New Year's Eve

Terry Kovel
The 44-inch-tall antique wicker carriage has an adjustable hood. It auctioned for just $61.50 at a Conestoga Auction Co. sale.

The "New Year" is celebrated in many ways, but in the United States, there are always midnight celebrations with pictures of an old man representing the past and a baby, the new year. The other popular symbol is a clock of almost any style with the hands at midnight. 

The early Greek idea of Baby New Year was a baby paraded around in a basket to welcome the new year. Then it became pictures of the Baby Jesus or a Baby New Year. But pictures were created for publications, and each year from 1907 to 1943, Joseph Leyendecker drew a different, humorous illustration of a Baby New Year for the Saturday Evening Post that have influenced all that followed.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was searching for the missing Baby New Year in a cartoon in the 1970s. Modern celebrations give gifts to the first newborn baby of the year at hospitals. We think the 19th-century baby buggy would be a nice gift for this year's first born. 

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Q: What is Burger King's "Magical Burger King" doll worth? It was made by Knickerbocker Toy Co. in 1980. The doll is about 20 inches tall and has a cloth body and plastic head and hands. The king is wearing a red outfit, yellow cape and boots, and has a crown on his head. 

A: The "Magical Burger King" doll came in a box with a plastic official Burger King ring and magician's props, a scarf that changed color, and a disappearing sponge "hamburger." The doll alone sells for about $10. Dolls in good condition with the original box and all the parts included sell for $25 to $50. 

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Q: My grandmother lived in California in the 1930s and often went to explore Catalina Island. She had some dishes marked "Catalina Pottery made in the U.S.A." It is no longer made. What can you tell me? Is it valuable?

A: Catalina Island and its town, Avalon, were still recovering from a fire when, in 1915, it was bought by William Wrigley Jr. as a place for spring training for his baseball team, the Chicago Cubs. He learned about red clay there that could be used to make pottery. So in 1927, he built a factory to make bricks to use in the buildings that replaced fire-damaged ones.

By 1937, the factory was making decorative tiles and pottery using the name Catalina. The best pieces were designed by artists who hand-painted plates and vases and even signed their names on the bottom of the piece. The red clay gave special qualities to the glazes, so although other companies used the name Catalina, their pottery was less desirable.

Unfortunately, sometimes pieces today are attributed to the wrong Catalina pottery. The Wrigley pottery was sold to Gladding McBean and Co. in 1937, and the wares were made on the mainland with the Catalina mark. Gladding McBean is now part of the Wedgwood Group. The early red clay pieces are the most wanted. Look carefully for any chips that may show the red, not white, clay. Large hand-painted pieces can sell for $1,000. Utilitarian pieces of dinnerware can be under $100.

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Q: I'm trying to find information about the maker of a porcelain vase a friend gave me several years ago. The letters "CF" and numbers "284" are molded into the bottom. Can you tell me the age of this vase? 

A: An impressed "CF" mark was used by Christian Fischer of Pirkenhammer, Bohemia, from 1846 to 1857. The pottery was established in Pirkenhammer in 1803 and operated under various names and owners. Martin Fischer bought the pottery in 1811 and his son, Christian Fischer, became manager in 1831. Christian's son-in-law, Ludwig von Mieg, became part owner in 1852, and the name of the pottery became Fischer & Mieg. It became part of OEPIAG, an association of potteries, in 1918. OEPIAG became EPIAG (First Bohemian Porcelain Industry) in 1920. The incised "CF" mark was used from 1846 to 1857. If the vase is more than 8 inches high, it might sell for $75 to $100. 

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Q: I have a magic lantern, complete with metal chimney, canister with lenses, reflector, fuel canister with wick and three hurricane shades. I also have 21 glass slides of animals, ships at sea, whaling, children and other scenes. The lantern is marked "Made in Germany, 1905, E.P., Series 8." What do you think it might be worth? 

A: Magic lanterns were invented in Europe in the 1650s. At first, they were lit by candles and used by traveling showmen to project shadow figures of ghosts, witches and goblins for entertainment at public gatherings. Kerosene magic lanterns became popular for home use in the 1800s.

Electric magic lanterns were made from the early 1900s until about 1930. Several companies in Europe and the U.S. made magic lanterns. Some were made especially for children. The mark "E.P." was used by Ernst Plank of Nuremberg, Germany. The company was in business from 1866 to 1932 and made magic lanterns, steam engines and toys. Slides sell for about $25 to $50 each. Kerosene magic lanterns in good working condition sell for $250 to $500.

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TIP: Don't stack boxes of Christmas ornaments. The weight may break some of the glass ornaments.

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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.Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at

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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. 

Christmas tree stand, cast iron, oxidized silver finish, tapered holder, embossed swags and tassels, scalloped band, 4 long scrolled legs, 9 1/2 inches x 24 inches, $45.

Furniture, wash stand, Sheraton, pine, grain painted, yellow, green and black stripes, red wash, dovetailed gallery, brass rosettes, drawer, turned legs, 

c. 1835, 37 x 18 inches, $160.

Cane, picker end, bamboo & maple, brass and steel fittings, "Fruit," "Flower" on reverse, embossed mark, "Underwood 56 Haymarket, London," c. 1875, 43 inches, $190.

Fountain pen, Montblanc, Meisterstuck, black, gold bands, 14K gold nib, marked "4810/14K/ Montblanc," original fitted case, c. 1980, 5 1/4 inches, $385.

Sampler, red-brick house, alphabet, numbers, baskets, urns of flowers, Martha Kirby & Sophia Melhuish, Aged 11 years 1842, linen, cotton, frame, 16 x 13 inches, $475.

Toy, truck, cement mixer, pressed steel, red and black paint, silver-color grill and headlights, rubber tires, Buddy L Junior Series, 1920s, 10 x 25 x 8 inches, $540.

Indian vase, Pueblo, pottery, blackware, black matte glaze, glossy symbols, bulbous, squat, tapered top, Maria Martinez, signed Marie & Santana, 1960s, 6 x 7 inches, $710.

Advertising sign, Buster Brown Bread, Branch of Golden Sheaf Bakery, pictures Buster Brown, his dog Tige and sheaf of wheat, embossed tin, frame, 22 x 30 inches, $1,535.

Chinese export supper set, porcelain, enamel decoration, scenes with figures, octagonal center, 8 shaped dishes surround, 1700s, center dish 7 3/4 inches, 9 pieces, $1,875.

Poster, concert, Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Fillmore West, Feb. 5-8, 1970, pictures arched window with starry sky and magic mushrooms, lithograph, David Singer, 22 x 14 inches, $2,745.