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    Column #1075 Copyright © Rinker Enterprises, Inc. 2006 

    Questions and Answers


    QUESTION:  My mother, who was born in 1934, is moving shortly and is downsizing her possessions.  She recently gave me a sled that was her sled as a child and which has a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse on it.  Is there any interest in something like this? – JK, Allentown, PA, E-mail Question.

    ANSWER:  Disney, led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, remains King of the Hill in the area of movie cartoon collectibles.  Collectors continue to favor licensed pre-1940 Disneyana. However, interest in Disneyana from the late 1940s through the early 1960s is growing.

    Ted Hake’s The Official Price Guide to Disney Collectibles, 1st Edition (House of Collectibles/Random House Information Group/Gemstone Publishing, 2005) provides this information about your sled: “1930s.  Sled toy is 6 x 18 x 29” long formed by steel frame and runners plus wood top panels, side rails and steering bar.  Underside of center slat included text ‘Mickey Mouse No. 80 / Made By S. L. Allen & Co.  Manufacturers Of The Flexible Flyer Sled.’  Top of steering bar has ‘Mickey Mouse’ name decal.”

    Hake values the sled at $150.00 in good condition, $300.00 in fine condition, and $750.00 in near mint condition.  The decal is critical to value.  It must be intact and rich in color for the sled to have maximum value.

    QUESTION:  I have a box containing eleven puzzles.  The maroon-colored box has a yellow banner which reads: “Compendium Box of Puzzles specially selected by F. A. O. Schwarz, New York, Made in England, R. Journet & Co., Ltd., London.”  Inside the box are eleven smaller box puzzles.  What is it worth? – JB, Bangor, PA, E-mail Question

    ANSWER:  R. Journet & Co. is best known for its dexterity puzzles.  These puzzles, housed in a flat box with a piece of glass on top, required you to twist and turn the box to get a ball(s) or similar item(s) through a maze, obstacle, or to rest in the proper hole.  The 1920s through the 1950s was the golden age of dexterity puzzles.

    Robert Journet opened a toy shop in Paddington, England, in 1878.  His father made the first Journet dexterity puzzles in the early 1890s.  Journet’s puzzles sold primarily in England until 1918.  That year the company had a booth at the British Industrial Fair and secured a number of orders from American buyers.

    When Robert Journet died in the 1930s, Fredrick, his son, assumed leadership of the company.  The company expanded.  Abbey Corinthian Games purchased R. Journet & Co. in 1965.  Production continued into the 1970s.

    Although hard to locate, a booklet by James Dalgety entitled R. Journet & Company: A Brief History of the Company and its Puzzles is the principal reference source.

    I was unable to find a complete listing of Journet dexterity puzzles.  Here is a sampling of the titles: Aero, Alice in Puzzleland, Beehive, Cog Wheel, Discuss, Divers, Double Six, Dovecote, Foxhunt, Geometrical, Golden Rod, Golf, Harlequin, Lucky Ring Tail Cat, Lucky Seven, Motorist, Piggyback, Pigs in Clover, Pin-U-Right, Pondsnag, Queen Mary, Rabbits in Corn, Rocky Mountains, Slippery Slabs, Speech Day, Television, The Juggle Puzzle, The Merry Toast, Turnstile, and Whirlpool.

    The back of the R. J. Series of Popular Puzzles reads: “Popular Portable Puzzles Providing Positively Perplexing and Perpetually Pleasing Posers Presenting Persistently Provoking Problems Providing Profuse Pleasure, and Producing a Palliative or Placid Panacea to People Possessing a Propensity for Persistence, Patience, Perspicacity and Painstaking Propensities.”  Fast read this three times.  I dare you.

    I am certain your box of puzzles contains several of these games as well as some that are not on the list.

    Journet jigsaw puzzles are collected globally.  In addition to a small cadre of collectors in the United States, there are a large number of collectors in England and in Europe.

    Location and condition are critical to value.  Recently an Alice in Puzzleland in fair to good condition sold on eBay for $15.59, shipping included.  An English dealer in dexterity puzzles offered the same puzzle in his Internet shop for just over $90.00.

    The majority of the Journet puzzles in very good or better condition sold on eBay realize between $8.00 and $20.00, with the average price being much closer to $10.00.  Most sellers ask shipping costs ranging from $5.00 to $8.00 per puzzle.

    Eleven is an odd number of puzzles to find in the box.  I get the feeling that there were once a dozen and one is missing.   However, the size of Journet dexterity puzzles does vary.  There may be one that is the full width of the box.

    The value of your box of puzzles, assuming they are in very good (no damage to the border papers) condition is between $125.00 and $145.00.

    QUESTION:  I own an Akro Agate Little American Maid Tea Set in its period box.  The pieces are an ivory glass with red swirls throughout.  A picture of the set is attached to my e-mail.  What is my set worth? – SM, Bethlehem, PA, E-mail Question

    ANSWER:  The Akro Agate Company was founded in Ohio in 1911, primarily to manufacture agate marbles.  In 1914 the firm opened a large factory in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

    Increasing competition in the marble industry in the 1930s prompted Akro Agate to expand.  In 1936, following a major fire at the Westite factory, Akro Agate purchased many of Westite’s molds.  Akro Agate now boasted a large line of children’s dishes, floral wares, and household accessories.  The company also produced specialty glass containers for cosmetic firms.  The Clarksburg Glass Company bought the factory in 1951.

    Akro Agate glass has survived the test of time because of its durability.  Most pieces are marked “Made in USA” and often include a mold number.  Some pieces have a small crow in the mark.  Early pieces of Akro Agate made from Westite molds may be unmarked but were produced only in typical Akro Agate colors and color combinations.

    Akro Agate colors include apple green, black, canary yellow, ivory, mottled green (white swirled with green), onyx (ivory stripped with maroon), orange, royal blue, and white.  Akro Agate never used the terms cobalt for Royal blue or pumpkin for orange in its literature.  The color line was expanded in the 1950s.  The color of your set is known to collectors as lemonade & oxblood.

    In order to achieve full value, juvenile tea sets have to be complete and accompanied by their period box.  A battered or heavily damaged box can reduce value by thirty percent or more.

    Roger and Claudia Hardy’s The Complete Line of The Akro Agate Co. With Prices (published by the authors, 1992) contains this information about the juvenile tea sets: “‘Akro’s’ first attempt to market ‘Juvenile’ Tea Sets came during the early 1930s.  The sets were made in transparent colors of topaz (amber), green, and blue.  The sugar lids for the earliest sets were dome shaped. The pattern is now called ‘Stippled Band.’  The sets came in a sturdy black box, with a silver interior.  At this early date the sets were not a success and they were discontinued.

    “With the beginning of World War II, and the shortage for material, ‘Akro’ decided to reintroduce the glass children’s dishes.  This time they proved to be a great success….The original molds were changed to block molds, because they were cheaper and could be run on a mechanized line….

    “Shortly after the War ended, ‘Akro’s’ Children’s Line met a lot of competition and their sales began to decline.  ‘Akro’ tried to expand their line by producing open-handled sets and experimenting with new colors, such as transparent red.  However, nothing seemed to help….By 1949 ‘Akro’ halted production of children’s dishes and sold only remaining stock until the Auction Sale in 1951.

    “‘Akro’ didn’t have pattern names on their boxes, so most of the patterns have been named by collectors.  The numbers on the boxes indicated the size of the set and number of pieces per set.”

    Your twenty-one piece set is in the “interior panel” pattern.  Your lemonade and oxblood color is among the most desirable.

    Recently an example of your Akro Agate Tea Set with a box in poor condition sold on eBay for just over $500.00 plus shipping.  This was the same value listed for the set by the Hardy’s in 1992.  Because your box is in good to very good condition, add another $50.00 to the $500.00.

    QUESTION:  My dad, who recently passed away, worked at Interpace/Franciscan Ware in Glendale, California, for thirty-eight years. I am trying to contact the company but do not have an address.  I know the company moved to England in 1984.  Can you help me? – AM, E-mail Question.

    ANSWER:  When Gladding, McBean and Company of Glendale, California, merged with the Lock Joint Pipe Company in September of 1962, the company’s name was changed to Interpace.  Wedgwood Limited of England purchased the Glendale location, including equipment and patterns, from Interpace in 1979 and renamed the company Franciscan Ceramic, Inc.  In 1984, Wedgwood closed the Glendale plant and moved production to England.

    In 1968 Johnson Brothers, an English manufacturer of dinnerware and other ceramic products, joined the Wedgwood Group.  Adams, Coalport, Crown Staffordshire, Mason’s, Meakin, and Midwinter also joined the group.  In England, Johnson Brothers manufactured the Franciscan patterns from the mid-1980s until 2004.  Around 2000, Johnson Brothers moved its factory operations to the former J & G. Meakin Eagle Pottery.  In 2003 Wedgwood transferred all Johnson Brothers production to China and demolished the Eagle Pottery in 2005.

    As you can see, what appears to be an easy question to answer is really a difficult one.  The most obvious answer is to address your letter to Johnson Brothers, c/o Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, Ltd., Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, ST12 9ES, UK.

    However, if you are seeking information about your father’s employment or other detailed information about the Glendale plant, expect to be disappointed.  I suspect the old records have long since been destroyed or lost.  Further, 1984 was a long time ago in terms of modern day manufacturing.  Chances are few if any of the modern day employees have any knowledge about the Glendale factory, the acquisition, or move.

    Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the twentieth century.  Selected letters will be answered in this column.  Harry cannot provide personal answers.  Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned.  Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5093 Vera Cruz Road, Emmaus, PA 18049.  You also can e-mail your questions to harrylrinker@aol.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered.

    You can listen and participate in WHATCHA GOT?, Harry’s antiques and collectibles radio call-in show, on Sunday mornings between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Eastern Time.  If you cannot find it on a station in your area, WHATCHA GOT? streams live on the Internet at www.goldenbroadcasters.com.

    SELL, KEEP OR TOSS?: HOW TO DOWNSIZE A HOME, SETTLE AN ESTATE, AND APPRAISE PERSONAL PROPERTY (House of Collectibles, an imprint of Random House Information Group, $16.95), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via www.harryrinker.com.


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