Card games were a popular pastime in the Great Depression

Terry and Kim Kovel
When advertisements include pictures of people, their clothing and hairstyles can help date the item. This store display for Bicycle Playing Cards is from about 1930.

Bicycle Playing Cards may be the most recognizable brand by the United States Playing Card Co. The brand has been around since 1885. One look at this store counter display advertising Bicycle Playing Cards will tell you that it's not from the late 1800s.

The large center scene shows a lively, colorful scene with two men and two women in formal dress around a card table. Changes in men's formal wear since the 19th century are much less dramatic than changes in women's clothes. The women in this picture have short hairstyles and low-neck sleeveless dresses that weren't seen until the 20th century.

Short hair for women came into fashion in the 1920s, but the women in the advertisement don't look like they are wearing 1920s flapper dresses. If we could see their full bodies, dating their clothes would be easier; 1920s evening dresses were famously short! But from what we can see, the dresses appear to match the low-necked, close-fitting evening styles of the 1930s. This display sold for $1,375 at a Potter & Potter auction, and its description dated it to "circa 1930." 

A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be used for a wide variety of games that can accommodate many players. Card games were a popular pastime in the Great Depression.

Question: Were any pieces of Moderntone transparent pink depression glass made other than tumblers?

Answer: Moderntone is a pattern made by Hazel Atlas Glass Company from 1934 to 1942 and again in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Pieces were made in amethyst, cobalt blue, pink and Platonite. Some pieces were made in clear glass. Cobalt blue is the most popular color. Tumblers were not part of the Moderntone pattern but were sold with it. Two different tumblers were advertised and collectors today consider them part of Moderntone.

Q: I have a doll I think is a Sweet Sue doll. She has rooted brown hair, open-close eyes and an open mouth with teeth showing. What can you tell me about her?

A: Sweet Sue dolls were made by the American Character Doll Co., a company in business in New York from 1919 to 1968. Sweet Sue is a hard plastic "pre-teen" doll made from 1951 to 1961. The doll was made in several sizes ranging from 14 inches to 31 inches tall. Some had bendable elbows, knees and ankles. Some were walking dolls. The Sweet Sue Sophisticate doll, a fashion doll that wore high heels, was made in two sizes in 1957.

Some Sweet Sue dolls are marked, but many are not. Without a mark, it's hard to tell if your doll is Sweet Sue or just a lookalike. Most dolls listed as Sweet Sue have closed mouths. Your doll has an open mouth with teeth showing, so it could be a lookalike doll. Value depends partly on size. A 14-inch Sweet Sue doll in original clothes and wearing roller skates sold for $67 recently.

Q: In 1967, as a 14-year-old, I lived in Sebastopol, California, with Charles Schulz as a neighbor. I was friends with his sons. One day, as I was visiting his place, I got several discarded sketches on 4- by 6-inch notepad paper. When Mr. Schulz was formulating ideas for his strip, he would sketch out his ideas on notepads before he finalized them in his strip. Then he would crumple them up and toss them away.

Many years ago, I framed them with copies of the actual comic strips that they inspired, which were published a month or so later. One example is Snoopy pretending he's a fierce mountain lion. Another is Snoopy's dilemma when he realizes he has been fed cat food. I have always wondered what value these sketches could have.

A: Charles Schulz created the comic strip "Peanuts" in 1950. It originally ran from 1950 to 2000 and has been in reruns since then. Original art for popular comic strips sells for high prices. The record price for original art for "Peanuts" was $192,000 for a four-panel, black-and-white daily strip from 1950. It sold at Heritage Auctions in 2020.

Individual sketches have sold for a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. Subject, size and condition help determine the value. The artists' signature also adds value. Your small, unsigned sketches will be of interest to collectors if they are in good condition. Contact an auction house that sells comic art to find out the value of the sketches.

TIP: Keep old, worn vintage doll accessories. Even if you substitute new accessories, save the old ones. They add value. 

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.

Bucket, candy, Sovereign, King of All Toffees, lid, beach scenes, red, yellow and blue, bail handle, metal, early 1900s, 8 x 7 inches, $83.

Doll, walking, pushing red pram with baby, blond hair, blue checked dress, repaired, Goodwin, 13 inches, $250.

Vase, smoke glass, closed handles, cup shape, incised signature, Timo Sarpaneva, midcentury, 3 ½ x 3 inches, $330.

Toy, zeppelin, EPL-1, yellow, two gondolas, tin lithograph, box, Lehmanns, 7 ½ inches, $380.

Jewelry, pin, clover, four leaves, on narrow bar, old cut diamond center, oval stone on each leaf, sapphire, ruby, emerald, diamond, art nouveau, 2 ¼ inches, $470.

Sampler, alphabet, bird, flower basket, deer, panels of stitch patterns, frame, Gisey Burns, 1832, 14 x 14 inches, $595.

Silver flatware spoon, Queen Anne style, dome end, finial, marked, Royal Irish Silver, Dublin, 16 x 3 inches, $820.

Furniture, table, work, yew, mahogany, fruitwood, hinged top, inlaid image of St. Mary's Cathedral, flowers, vines, shamrocks, fitted interior, round platform base, three paw feet, Ireland, mid-19th century, 27 ½ x 22 ½ x 16 ½ inches, $940.

Poster, travel, Pennsylvania Railroad, "Plan Your Vacation Trip By Train," man and woman carrying suitcases, W. Walter Calvert, c. 1953, 40 x 26 1/4 inches, $1,190.

Scent bottle, stopper, gold iridescent, green hearts and vines, marked, LCT Tiffany Favrile, c. 1900, 4 x 2 inches, $1,750.