Scrap metals toys popular with children during Depression era

Terry Kovel
This Yellow Coach bus made by Arcade is 13 inches long and in great condition. It sold for $600 at Bertoia Auctions in 2020.

The Arcade Manufacturing Company started as Novelty Iron Works in 1868. It made iron storefronts, windmills and coffee mills. It became Arcade Manufacturing Company in 1885 and the first product was a cork puller.

In 1893, they started to make toys to make use of the scrap metal. Animal banks were made after 1908, and child-sized coffee grinders were made from the start until the 1930s. 

In 1921, the company decided to make toys that were copies of real vehicles and everyday items. The first of the toys was an accurate copy of the car used by Yellow Cab. By the 1930s, it was making copies of many other vehicles. The toys were well-made, expensive and popular with children. When World War II started in 1941, it switched to war work, making special iron parts. After the war in 1946, the company was bought. It closed in 1953. 

This Arcade yellow double decker bus was made about 1926. It is a copy of a Yellow Coach and has the name on the side of the 13-inch-long toy,

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Q: I have a pair of brass military binoculars I think my great-grandfather used during the Civil War. They appear to be brass and have eyeshades. The eyepieces are engraved "Lamier, Paris." They were found along with his gold pocket watch that was engraved with his regiment, rank and unit, and dated 1861-1863. I'd like to know the estimated value of the binoculars as I intend to donate them to a historical preservations society. Can you help? 

A: It might be hard to read the engraving, but the binoculars were probably made by LeMaire, a company in business in Paris, from 1846 to 1955. The company made binoculars, opera glasses and other optical items. LeMaire binoculars and field glasses were used by troops in the Civil War, as well as in World War I and World War II. You need a legal appraisal of value in order to get a tax deduction for your donation. Provenance is important and the pocket watch may help, but the binoculars have to be seen by an expert to determine value. It can't be done by a photo. 

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Q: Can you tell me what company made a porcelain bowl marked with an eagle with spread wings above the letters "C.T."? It's also marked "Made in Germany." 

A: The mark on your bowl was used by C. Tielsch Porcelain Factory in Altwasser, Silesia, Germany (now Stary Zdroj, part of Walbrzych, Poland). The company was founded by Carl Tielsch in 1845. It became a part of C.M. Hutschenreuther in Hohenberg, Germany, in 1932. C. Tielsch used an eagle mark for several years. This particular mark was used from 1875 to about 1900. Porcelain exported to the U.S. had to be marked with the country of origin after 1891, so your porcelain bowl was probably made after that. The city name, Altwasser, was added to the mark around 1900.

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Q: I have my brother's Playboy magazine collection plus six Playboy calendars. The magazines are from 1968 to 1984. All are in excellent condition and have been stored in bank boxes. I'd be interested in knowing the value of this collection. I'm looking for a single buyer for the complete set. I don't do anything on the Internet. Can you help me find a home for this collection?

A: The first issue of Playboy magazine was published in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. It became a quarterly publication in 2019. Publication stopped in spring 2020.

Most Playboy magazines don't sell for more than $5 unless they are rare or the cover has special interest. Many sell for only a dollar. A few copies are valuable. The first issue with Monroe on the cover can sell for a few thousand dollars. But it has been copied. Try a local bookstore that sells used books. If they also sell magazines, they may be able to give you a value for the entire collection. It may not be as much as you had hoped, but at least you will have found them a home. 

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Q: We'd like an estimate of the value of an old Dubois & Stodart square grand piano. It lists the address as "Broadway. New York" but we can't read the street number. Some veneer is missing, but I think the keys are in good shape. We'd like to know more about it. Is it worth anything? 

A: William Dubois and Adam Stodart started Dubois & Stodart in 1822. Stodart was a piano maker. Dubois was a music publisher who imported and sold pianos. He left the partnership in 1834, so your piano was probably made between 1822 and 1834. The company was located at 126 Broadway from 1822 to 1827 and at 167 Broadway from 1828 to 1834. If you can read the address on your piano, you will know the approximate date it was made. The value depends on the quality of the piano, age and condition. If you want to sell the piano, contact a local dealer who buys and sells used pianos. It's difficult to sell a square grand piano. 

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TIP: Put the silica packets that come in shoeboxes, handbags and with some prescription pills in the storage containers that hold your out-of-season clothes. The packets keep moisture and bugs away. 

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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. 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. 

Roseville Rozane jardiniere, embossed flowers & veined leaves, dimpled green ground, squat oval shape, marked, c.1920, 12 1/2 x 14 inches, $70.

Toy sewing machine, cast iron, table top, Willcox & Bibbs Sewing Machine Co., working condition, 10 3/8 x 8 1/2 inches, $145.

Royal Copenhagen porcelain vase, Clipper Ship at Sea, lighthouse in background, shades of gray and blue, cylindrical with swollen shoulder, 13 x 6 inches, $250.

Rug, Tibetan, yellow flowers, ochre ground, light green border, 19 feet x 11 feet 11 inches, $370.

Tiffany glass bowl, gold iridescent, flared rim, footed, marked "L.C. Tiffany, Favrile, 1848," 4 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches, $440.

Furniture, pie safe, wood, original brown stain, cornice molded top, 2 doors over drawer, 12 punched tin panels with designs on doors & sides, 60 x 41 x 17 inches, $540.

Cane, wood, carved animal's head grip, elongated ear, rustic textured shaft, c.1910, 35 inches, $790.

Bottle, historical flask, George Washington on side, Zachary Taylor on reverse, yellow green, applied sloping double collar mouth, 1850-1855, qt., $1,310.

Pottery, midcentury, bud vase, earthenware, mottled luster glaze, bulbous bottom, elongated stem, flared rim, marked, BEATO for Beatrice Wood, 9 x 3 3/4 inches, $2,375.

Paper, poster, Uncle Sam, I Want You For the U.S. Army, signed by artist, J.M. Flagg, 1917, 40 x 30 inches, $3,125.