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    Column #949 Copyright © Rinker Enterprises, Inc. 2005 

    Questions and Answers

    QUESTION:  I am a resident of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, who has come upon an apple basket full of Japanese lusterware from circa 1935.  I say 1935 because some of the pieces are wrapped in newspaper from 1935 while others are wrapped in Japanese newspaper.  All the pieces are in excellent condition.  The only markings are three blue Japanese characters on the bottom of the pieces.  What can you tell me about my find?  --  SD, Emmaus, PA

    ANSWER:  Most Japanese lusterware dates from the mid-1920s through the end of the 1930s.  Beginning late summer in 1921, goods imported from Japan were marked “Japan” or “Made in Japan.”  Goods imported from Japan had a “Nippon” (the Japanese name for Japan) mark between 1891, when the McKinley Tariff Act was passed, and the first part of 1921.

    The McKinley Tariff Act did not require all goods in a set to be individually marked nor did it require that the mark be permanent.  Carole White’s Collector’s Guide to Made in Japan Ceramics: Identification & Values Book III (Collector Books, 1998; 232 pages, $19.95) notes: “Sometimes, all pieces in a set are not backstamped.  The profit margin on ceramics was slim, and a factory could save a little labor cost by not marking every piece in a set.”  As you discovered in going through you collection, pieces also were marked with Japanese characters.  Unfortunately, no reference source provides a translation for them.  While I would like to assume that they indicate manufacturer or dynasty, I strongly suspect they are, as we say in Pennsylvania German country, “just for nice.”

    Normally one encounters Japanese lusterware in tea sets, luncheon sets, and, occasionally, dinnerware.  However, many kitchen and other household products, e.g., ashtrays, creamer and sugar sets, pitchers, reamers, salt and pepper and condiment sets, vases, wall pockets, etc., can be found in a lusterware finish.

    Japanese lusterware went through a collecting craze in the late 1980s and early 1990s, especially in the Northwest.  The bottom dropped out of the secondary market in the late 1990s; yet another category that fell victim to oversupply thanks to Internet offerings.

    I did an eBay search for “luster +japan” and found 225 listings.  Less than five of the pieces sold above $50.00.  Most sold for under $25.00.  Further, the bid numbers were weak, normally ranging from three to five, thus confirming that the market still is weak.

    There are no reference books to twentieth century lusterware of which I am aware.  Your best bet if you want to do further research are the “Made in Japan” reference books by Carole White.

    QUESTION:  My great grandmother’s son brought back a mother of pearl heart pendant during World War II.  It is in its period box marked “Uris Sales Corp., N.Y.C., Mfrs. of Military & Fraternal Jewelry.”  Does it have any value besides sentimental?  --  SF, Cedar Rapids, IA

    ANSWER:  Martin Jacobs’ World War II Homefront Collectibles: Price & Identification Guide (Krause Publications, 2000; 208 pages, $22.95) offers this information about Sweetheart Jewelry: “Collecting sweetheart jewelry is an exciting way to preserve a unique piece of our history and great heritage of the World War II era.  A gift given to a sweetheart by a serviceman strikes a deep sentimental chord in each of us….Sweetheart jewelry included pins, lockets, wings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets and rings and was an important morale builder on the homefront….

    “Service branch jewelry: The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, even the Coast Guard and Seabees has special jewelry items made just for them.  Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine had a wide variety of sweetheart items that he could buy and send to a loved one back home.  Bracelets, earrings, lockets and pins were so popular and so many were produced that they are some of the best values in WWII collectibles today.”

    I was not able to locate any information about the Uris Sales Corporation.  Christie Romero, author of Warman’s Jewelry, Third Edition (Krause Publications, 2002; 272 pages, $29.95 ), checked her copy of the 1943 Jewelers’ Circular-Keystone’s Trade-Marks of the Jewelry and Kindred Trades and did not find a listing for the company.

    I strongly suspect that Uris Sales Corporation was a distributor and not a manufacturer, even though it says “Mfrs.” on their label.  While WWII sweetheart jewelry certainly was sold in department stores, a large quantity also was sold via the PX.  Again, I strongly suspect Uris Sales Corporation had a contract to supply military stores.

    The value of your Army sweetheart pin in its period box is between $55.00 and $65.00.

    QUESTION:  I own a Hopalong Cassidy photo album.  It is in good condition other than a slight tear on the binder section.  I went on eBay to see if I could find a value, but did not find any examples offered.  What is it worth?  --  DP, E-mail Question

    ANSWER:  When doing research on eBay, allow enough time for the answer to appear.  When you run a search of items offered for sale, you only receive a nine-day listing.  If you run a search of completed sales, you receive a thirty-day listing.  Although common, it may take a period of three to four months for a Hopalong Cassidy photo album to appear for sale.  If you do not have the patience to do this, there are Internet services that have purchased eBay’s data and have several months of sales results available.

    While I do not picture the Hopalong Cassidy photo album in my book Hopalong Cassidy: King of the Cowboy Merchandisers (Schiffer Publishing, 1995; 168 pages, $29.95), I do picture the Hopalong Cassidy wastebasket and provide this description: “Wastebasket, Hassenfeld Brothers, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  Hassenfeld Brothers used the same covering that appeared on their scrap books and photo albums and applied two of them to a metal container to make this wastebasket.”

    When researching the William Boyd papers at the University of Wyoming, I found three Hassenfeld Brothers merchandising licensing contracts, November 15, 1951, September 1, 1952, and October 19, 1962.  The contracts covered “Scrap books, photo and autograph albums, doctor’s Western play kit, plain and zippered pencil pouches, pencils encased in wood (except mechanical pencils), erasers, rulers, pencil sharpeners, and school children’s pencil sets in paper, artificial leather, leather, and plastic pencil boxes.”

    I valued the photo album in my book at $100.00.  However, as I tell everyone who uses a price guide, always check the copyright date.  Values have changed significantly for Hopalong Cassidy material over the last ten years and not to the good.  Today, I buy Hoppy material for my collection at twenty-five to thirty cents on the dollar relative to the prices in my book.  I find plenty of willing sellers.

    I checked eBay and found three Hopalong Cassidy photo albums offered for sale in February 2005.  One had an opening bid request of $150.00.  There were no bidders.  I am not surprised.  Internet buyers are savvy and know the market.  A second had an opening bid request of $79.99.  Again, there were no bidders.  Again, I take my ten-gallon hat off to all those individuals who had enough sense not to spend this kind of money.  The bidding for the third album ended at $15.50.  It failed to meet the reserve.  In my opinion, the seller should have taken the money and run.

    Your Hopalong Cassidy album has a value between $35.00 and $45.00 in today’s market.  If you plan to sell and wait another ten years, cut these values in half.

    QUESTION: I remember playing with “The Adventures of Pinocchio” game at my grandmother’s house. It is marked “Copyright 1939, Cadaco-Ellis, Inc.” The game has its spinner and is in good shape. I wonder if it has any value? – ST, Oskaloosa, IA

    ANSWER: Carlo Lorenzini, using the pseudonym C. Collodi, authored Pinocchio in 1881. This childhood literature classic tells the story of a little wooden puppet who talks and walks, and whose nose grows every time he tells a lie. Collodi wrote the Pinocchio story as a series of installments in a weekly magazine. The puppet experienced a wide range of adventures. The Pinocchio story has appeared in close to two hundred dialects and languages.

    Following its success with “Snow White,” Disney chose the Pinocchio story for its second full-length feature cartoon. Disney narrowed the storyline and introduced Jiminy Cricket as Pinocchio’s conscience. In Collodi’s story Pinocchio squashes the cricket with his foot and enters the world as a true juvenile delinquent. Disney started production on Pinocchio in 1937, releasing the film in 1940. The production budget was $2,600,000.

    The fact that Disney was making a movie about Pinocchio was no secret. Further, because the story was in the public domain, Disney was not able to copyright the character, only its interpretation of the character and storyline. Other manufacturers decided to ride Disney’s coattails. Cadaco-Ellis was one of these.

    In 1935 Donald Mazer, a sports enthusiast and game lover, and Charles Berlsheimer, a businessman and investor, formed Cadaco, an acronym for the “Charles and Don and Company.” The company’s first office was in San Leandro, California. By 1937 Mazer had married Eleanor Ellis and bought out Berlsheimer. The company, renamed Cadaco-Ellis, moved to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart the same year. Upon arriving in Chicago, the company began using artwork by C. Leslie Crandall, a Bohemian artist. For more information about Cadaco, see its website, www.cadaco.com.

    Your “Adventures of Pinocchio” board game was Cadaco-Ellis’s attempt to piggyback on the assumed success of Disney’s Pinocchio movie. The game board artwork is most likely by Crandall. The key question is where is the rest of the game? While you have the game board and spinner, you do not appear to have the playing pieces, instructions, and/or box. Your game is not complete unless they are present.

    Because your game is incomplete, the principal buyer for your game is a decorator who views the game board as a wall hanging. As such, its value is between $10 and $15.

    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 rinkeron@fast.net.  Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered.

    Home & Garden Television (HGTV) currently lists COLLECTOR INSPECTOR as on hiatus from January 1 through June 30, 2005.  Whether or not it returns as reruns in July depends entirely on HGTV.
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