Cracker Jack store sign

It took $615 to buy this early Cracker Jack store sign. The sailor boy and dog are still on every box but with newer clothes and different features.

Companies that have been in business for a long time often have updated and changed the logo or slogan used in advertising. Collectors can usually identify the age of the ad from the words and pictures that were used. Cracker Jack was first sold in 1896 from a cart in Chicago. The mixture of popcorn, molasses and peanuts, sometimes called the first junk food in America, was very popular. It sold well at the Chicago World’s Fair and got even more notice when the familiar song sung at ball games said, “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.” The company developed a box that held a single serving, added coupons for prizes in 1910, then small toys in 1912, and in 2013, a code that leads to an online puzzle or game. The box has pictured the sailor boy (the founder’s son) and his dog Bingo since 1918, often changing their looks. This 9-by-14-inch die-cut cardboard store sign pictures an early version of the sailor boy. It sold at a Kimball Sterling auction for $615. The early toys are popular with collectors, and there is even a Cracker Jack Collectors Association. The most expensive prize? The baseball card series from 1914-1915, worth over $100,000.

Q: I have a Josef Originals “Doll of the Month” figurine for the month of July. She’s holding a gray kitten in her left hand. A gold and black sticker on the front of her dress says “July.” A second sticker says “Josef Originals.” Some of the sticker is gone. The hang tag has a little poem. What is the value of the doll?

Answer: Muriel Joseph George began making ceramic figurines in the basement of her home in California in 1945. A printer’s error on the first labels changed the spelling from “Joseph” to “Josef” and that became the company name. Production moved to Japan in 1962. The company was sold several times beginning in 1982. Copies of some of the original figures were made in Taiwan. The company closed in 2011. The value of your figurine is $25 to $40.

Q: I saved your article on cleaning collectibles and find it very helpful. I have a lovely lacquered tray on a stand that has several dull spots. We lived in Japan for five years and bought the tray there. At some point, my cleaning help used a rag that probably had polish of some sort on it. How can I restore the finish?

Answer: Lacquer should be kept out of strong light, which can dull the finish. It should be dusted with a feather duster, not a cloth that might have residual polish on it or one that could scratch the surface. Sources online suggest using carnauba wax and a lambswool buffer to restore damaged pieces, but if only some of the finish is damaged, this isn’t a good idea. If it’s a piece you love and want to keep on display, it would be worth taking the tray to someone who restores antiques. A good restoration by an amateur is almost impossible on lacquer.

Q: A porcelain group showing a wicker basket with four babies’ faces peeking out from under the lid has been in my family for years. The basket is actually a box with a removable lid. It’s decorated with leaves and a lock and key and is 9 1/2 inches long by 8 inches high and 6 inches deep. A very lightly impressed mark with a rounded top is on the bottom. Can you provide any information on it as well as possible value? It is in perfect condition.

Answer: Gebruder Heubach, or Heubach Brothers, was a firm known for bisque dolls and doll heads. It operated in Lichten, Germany, from 1840 to about 1938. They also made bisque figurines beginning in the 1880s and glazed figurines in the 1900s. Heubach made the rare “Four Babies in a Basket” figural bisque group about 1910. Even more rare is the larger-sized basket, like yours. It’s prized for the realistic-looking wicker and baby faces with intaglio eyes, sculpted hair, molded teeth, blushing cheeks and chubby arms. A Gebruder Heubach mark, the sunburst over initials G and H that was registered in 1882, is incised on the bottom. We’ve seen a few sell from $1,300 to $3,000. But be careful. Modern reproductions have been made in Germany from the 1940s using original Heubach molds. Many have the same markings and can be very difficult to tell apart from originals. Look for crude, less detailed decoration and paint, or an incised mark that is less distinct. If you have questions about yours, an auction house that specializes in dolls can help.

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.

  • Countertop scale, silver-tone scoop pan, fan shaped measure, gilt, Stimpson Computing Co., 19¼ inches, $275.
  • Netsuke, wood, boy climbing on reclining ox, Japan, 1800s, 1½ inches, $360.
  • Goose decoy, black head, white cheeks, black wings, tan breast, white tail, 24 inches, $445.
  • Still bank, palace, spire, stairs to balcony, painted red brick, Ives Blakeslee, c. 1885, 8 x 8 inches, $760.
  • Scrimshaw, walrus, “Seven mermaids,” rocks, seaside, clouds, Michael Cohen, 11 x 3 inches, $1,080.
  • Royal Worcester tea set, revolving tray, teapot, waste bowl, creamer, 4 cups and saucers, blue and white flowers, porcelain, c. 1880, $1,080.
  • Hitching post, animal mask finial, iron, T.R. Pullis, c. 1880, 60 inches, $1,350.
  • Writing desk, Sevres style, kingwood, tulipwood, gilt bronze mounts, 2 drawers, flowers, cabriole legs, 58 x 30 inches, $1,780.
  • Stoneware jug, cobalt blue swag and heart cartouche, pulled strap handle, stamped David Morgan, c. 1800, 17 x 11 inches, $4,610.
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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, Fla. 32803.

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