Journey to the North Pole inspired commemorative game

Terry Kovel
To play the North Pole game, tilt the board and roll the ball along the track. Watch out for the holes! It's less dangerous than a North Pole expedition but still a challenge.

On top of the world! In September 1909, The New York Times published Robert Peary's claims of reaching the North Pole in April of that year, crediting him with the pole's discovery.

However, just a week earlier, another newspaper claimed that Frederick Cook had reached the pole the year before. Both claims have been disputed since then, but they were sensations at the time. 

The journey to the North Pole inspired commemorative figurines, souvenirs and games. This North Pole game has a patent date of 1910. It is a game of skill in which the player rolls one of the included metal balls along the winding track, earning points for each hole the ball passes without falling in.

The rules are printed on the back of the board, along with a scene of two explorers (Peary and Cook, perhaps?) approaching the pole.

This game sold for $480 at Morphy Auctions. The lot included the colorfully lithographed tin game board, two metal balls, the instructions sheet and the box with a color picture of a family in early 1900s dress playing the game. Commercial game boards sell for higher prices when they come with the original box and pieces.

Question: Can you refer me to any website that can check a maker's mark on a Chinese vase and appraise it? It has a printed mark above the words "Made in China," which makes me think it's not worth anything. It's also stamped "Not for food use. May poison food. For decorative purposes only."  

Answer: Your vase is not very old. The Food and Drug Administration began requiring a "Not for Food Use" warning on ceramics with glazes that contained lead in 1971. The FDA recommended testing ceramic tableware made in China, Hong Kong, India and Mexico. The restrictions on the allowable amount of lead in glazes used on dishes used for food were tightened several times. Lead can leach out of the glaze and cause lead poisoning. Chinese marks are hard to decipher.

If your vase was very old, you could take it to a museum to see if an expert there could decipher the mark. A dealer in Chinese antiques could give you an estimate of value. However, your vase is not very old and would not be of great value.  

Q: A friend of mine was bragging about his collection of Kentucky Derby glasses. He seemed to think they are valuable. Are they? 

A: Shot glasses and souvenir glasses are best collected because they are reminders of a fun vacation or event. Every year since 1939, a glass has been produced for the Kentucky Derby in limited quantity with a specific design. The glass is meant to hold the traditional Mint Julep, a drink enjoyed on Derby Day.

Kentucky Derby glass collectors want to collect each annual glass to have a complete set. While they are sought-after souvenirs, they are not as rare as you think. Kentucky Derby julep glasses from recent years sell for about $5 to $9. Older ones are more expensive; a 1961 glass sold for $60 and a 1948 example sold for $150.

Q: I was interested in a turquoise, three-piece Pyrex Amish Butterprint Cinderella bowl set. Can you tell me about this print and set of bowls? 

A: The Butterprint pattern was introduced in 1957. It was one of the first printed patterns on the opal ware Pyrex line. Others included Snowflake and Pink Daisy. Released in 1957, Butterprint was popular with its Amish scenes in turquoise-on-white and white-on-turquoise colors.

The name "Cinderella" referred to a set of shapes, and its naming was probably related to the popularity of the Cinderella story both in film and on Broadway at the time. Sets of four smaller-to-larger bowls run $215 to $300. We found a set of three bowls for $140 at a thrift store. Shop carefully to get the best price.

Q: How can I safely clean old coins?  

A: Coins should not be cleaned. Collectors want coins with the patina unchanged. If your coins are collectible, they should be protected from fingerprints and stored properly. Don't touch the coins to examine them unless you are wearing white gloves. The oil from your skin will damage the coin. If you must touch a coin, hold it by the edge.

Coins should not be stored loose in a box or envelope. They may be scratched. Paper, cardboard, plastic and wood give off chemical vapors that speed corrosion. You can buy archival coin holders online or at a coin shop. Coins should be kept in a cool, dry location. You can find more information on properly storing coins on the American Numismatic Association website,

TIP: Clean cast iron with coarse salt and a soft sponge. The salt is abrasive enough to remove bits of food and absorb oil without harming the pan's seasoning. Rinse and wipe dry.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers' 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

Current Prices

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. 

Advertising fan, folding, Bouillie Barousse, Toulouse, pleated paper, opens to form circle, blue, white letters, wooden handles, France, 17 x 13 inches, $60.

Bronze, mirror, pivot, art nouveau, round, pierced stand, woman on swing, marked, early 20th century, 18 ¾ x 13 1/2 inches, $90.

Toy, car, racing, Shark, brown, Fox Eagle 60 engine, pusher, Remco, 1961, 20 inches, $250.

Lamp, Orbiter series, globe shade, chrome, adjustable swing arm, black enamel handle and base, Robert Sonneman, 53 x 22 x 10 inches, $270.

Furniture, music stand, Rococo style, burl walnut, pierced, inlaid lyre, two-sided, extending brass candlesticks, carved pedestal base, tripod, Continental, 48 x 16 ½ inches, $340.

Tramp art, chest, four drawers, locks, chip carved, round finials, four-footed, includes key, miniature, 20th century, 19 ½ x 14 ½ x 9 inches, $500.  

Wood carving, sugar, lid, painted, red ground, leaves and flowers, pedestal foot, round stepped base, Lehnware, 5 inches, $565.

Picture, appliqued, bird on branch, leaves, fruit, multicolor, fabric, frame, Victorian, 24 x 20 ¾ inches, $640.

Porcelain brush holder, Famille Rose decoration, tiger, head turned, roaring, mountain scenery, painted, character marks on reverse, artist's seals, Chinese, 7 ½ x 8 inches, $985.

Silver tea set, raised scrolls, teapot, coffeepot, sugar and creamer, waste bowl, oval tray with four feet, marked, A. Torres Vega, Mexico, tray 27 ½ x 17 ½ inches, $3,750.