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    Column #1163 Copyright © Rinker Enterprises, Inc. 2009 

    Questions and Answers


    QUESTION:  I have a 1971 Hedstrom convertible baby carriage.  It is blue and green plaid and coverts into a car-bed and stroller.  We used the carriage for our daughter.  It is in excellent condition.  We would like to sell the baby carriage.  What should we ask? – WC, Duncansville, PA, E-mail Question

    ANSWER:  Carl H. Hedstrom, E. Gustaf Hedstrom, Knute W. Hedstrom, Wilfred P. Shuffleton, and Walter Beaman founded the Hedstrom Company, Gardner, Massachusets in 1915.  The company moved several times in its early years, finally locating on Main Street in 1925.  It specialized in the manufacturer of clothes dryers’ hardware and wheels for cribs and bassinets.

    In 1919 Hedstrom bought an interest in the Union Manufacturing Company, established two years earlier by William Carlson, Oscar E. Fowelin, and Ernest Johnson.  The company made reed-bodied baby carriages and hoods.  Hedstrom and Union merged in 1922 to become Hedstrom Union Company.  In 1928 Children’s Vehicle Company of Templeton was acquired.  Hedstrom Union Company leased a plant in Fitchburg in1936.  Labor difficulties in 1950 resulted in the closing of the Gardner and Fitchburg facilities.  The company moved its manufacturing and business offices to Dotham, Alabama and Bedford, Pennsylvania.

    The Hedstrom Corporation still exists.  However, it no longer makes baby carriages.  Its Bedford plant produces outdoor gym sets, play balls, toys, etc.  The Dotham operation is toy focused.

    Collectors focus on the wicker and wooden side Hedstrom baby carriages made in Gardner prior to 1950.  Later baby carriages are garage sale fodder.  Further, 1970s baby carriages do not confirm to today’s child safety standards, especially car travel.  As a result, your carriage has little to no reuse value.  Your best potential buyer is a doll collector who would use the baby carriage to store period dolls.

    My gut says $10.00 to $15.00 at a garage sale and a difficult to impossible sale on the Internet.  Clearly, any amount over $25.00 makes you a winner.

    CAVEAT:  I did find a plaid 1960s/70s Hedstrom baby carriage listed on eBay for $295.95 or best offer.  The listing suggests the carriage would make a great vintage movie or stage prop. The seller qualifies as one of the world’s biggest optimists.  If anyone pays anywhere near this price, he or she deserves the title of one of the world’s biggest suckers.  As in life, there is no rule against asking.  The seller needs only one fool.

    QUESTION:  I have a 1920s era leather football helmet that my father was told belonged to Chris “Red” Cagle, an All American at West Point.  I want to sell it, and West Point has offered me $300.00.  What is your advice? – JR, E-mail Question

    ANSWER:  Christian “Red” Keener Cagle (May 1, 1905 / December 26, 1942) was a colorful character.  He was born in DeRidder, Louisiana, one of eight children.  He attended Merryville High School, where he acquired a reputation for getting off the school bus on the way to school and often outracing it to the school entrance.

    Cagle played football for Southwestern Louisiana Institute, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, from 1922 to 1925.  In his junior year, he completed 54% of his passes for 859 yards.  In his senior year, Cagle scored 108 or 120 points, depending on which sports authority you believe, to finish fifth in the nation. In his four years at Southwest Louisiana Institute, he scored a total of 235 points from extra points, field goals, and touchdowns.  Although sometimes referred to as the “Red Flash” or “Red,” sportswriters tagged him “Onward Christian” for his tenacity in advancing the football.  He also lettered in baseball and basketball.

    Cagle was appointed to the United State Military Academy in 1926.  He moved from quarterback to halfback and was selected as a three-time All-American.  While at the Academy, Cagle was known as the “Red Thunderbolt of West Point.”  In 1929 he was the team captain and had five touchdown runs of more than thirty-five yards, one 70 yards against Ohio Wesleyan.  He scored a total of 169 points during his career.

    Cagle never graduated from West Point.  After the 1929 football season, it was discovered that he secretly married Marian Haile, who he met while attending Southwestern Louisiana Institute, in August 1928.  Marriage was a violation of the rules of the U.S. Military Academy.  Cagle was expelled.

    Cagle played professional football for the New York Giants (1930-1932) and Brooklyn Dodgers (1933-34).  Cagle and John Simms “Shipwreck” Kelly, also a former New York Giants football player, were co-owners of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The purchase price was $25,000. Cagle sold his half interest to the team to Dan Topping in 1934.

    On December 23, 1942 Cagle, now employed by an insurance company, was found unconscious at the bottom of the steps of a Manhattan subway station.  The Advertiser, a New York newspaper, reported he tripped and fell the full length of the subway steps.  He died three days later of a fractured skull.

    According to Dan Hauser, Ed Turner, and John Gennantonio’s Antique Sports Uniforms & Equipment, 1840-1940, Baseball-Football-Basketball: With Price Guide (published by Schiffer Publishing, 2008), hard leather helmets from the late 1920s, sell in the $300.00 to $500.00 range.  This value does not include “historical association,” i.e., the added value associated with the fact the helmet belonged to a member of the College Football Hall of Fame (1954).

    The old adage of “let your conscious be your guide” will determine what happens next.  If you are motivated by finding a good home rather than achieving maximum value for the helmet, then sell it to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  Your e-mail indicates the attribution to Cagle is somewhat tentative, i.e., “my Father was told…”  This far different from “in fact it did.”

    If the sale is about money, then $300.00 is too low.  Potential buyers include University of Louisiana-Lafayette football collectors, All-American football players collectors, vintage football uniform collectors, West Point football collectors, early professional football collectors, etc.  The list is a large one.  The ideal disposal route is via one of the top sports auctions, e.g., Legendary Auctions or Hunts.  In an auction environment, the helmet should approach and possibly exceed the $1,000.00.

    QUESTION:  I know Barbie turns 50 this year.  I have a one piece black and white stripped swimsuit.  Is this an “original”?  If yes, what is its value? – DB, Mission Hills, SD, E-mail Question

    ANSWER:  Barbie turned fifty in February 2009, none the worse for wear but with a slightly reduced bust size and a little bit more fat on her waist.  She remains Mattel’s international “billion dollar baby,” albeit her popularity is fading with the younger set.

    Barbie’s black and white stripped swim suit is her classic look.  While the suit adorned the first Barbie, it also appeared on millions of Barbie’s that followed.  According to the website, fashion-doll-guide.com, “Vintage Barbie Black and White Swimsuit was the original outfit for the first Barbie dolls.  The ponytail Barbie dolls sold in 1959 to 1961 were wearing the famous zebra striped suit.  The first Bubblecuts were also wearing this.

    “In 1962 Barbie’s outfit was change to the Red Helenca Swimsuit…The swimsuits are very ‘stretchy’ and are prone to stretch out, especially at the bust.  They are also prone to runs and usually look ‘dingy.’  They do clea up well with a soak in Oxiclean.  They are fairly easy to find.”

    The full ensemble for an early Barbie includes the swimsuit plus black open toe heels and white sunglasses with blue lens.  A vintage ensemble is worth between $8.00 and $10.00.  The swimsuit sells on the secondary market between $4.00 and $6.00.  Beware of modern reproductions.

    QUESTION:  I have several Hummel figurines from the late 1930s.  They are not in perfect condition.  What is their value today? – NW, E-mail Question

    ANSWER:  They have little to no value.  The secondary market for Hummel figurines has collapsed.  Values have fallen by two-thirds to three-quarters from what they were fifteen years ago.  However, this is not issue here.  Condition is.

    Collectors want objects in fine or better condition.  Once an object is damaged, it is the kiss of death.  Given the large quantity of Hummel figurines produced, no collector will invest in a damaged example, no matter how scarce it is.  There are plenty of examples in very fine or better condition to buy.

    The only value remaining in the Hummel figurines you have are what they mean to you.  Keep them and enjoy them.

    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.gcnlive.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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