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Toys are a mirror of what life was like in the past

Children’s toys are valuable records of what life was like in the past. From about 1880 to 1914, inexpensive, mechanical lithographed tin toys known as “penny toys” were popular and affordable in America. A toy rickshaw with a driver and a lady in a small cart was made by George Fischer of Nuremberg, Germany, in the early 1900s. The company made many different penny toys, all based on the life of the times. His trademark on most toys was “G.F.” in capital letters.

But was there really a rickshaw powered by a man riding a bicycle.? Yes. It is thought that the first rickshaw was invented about 1869 by an American missionary to Japan who used it to transport his invalid wife. The idea became popular, and by 1872 there were about 40,000 rickshaws in use in Japan. There are many styles and names like bike taxi, pedicab, tricycle taxi and even modern electric models. Men pushed or pedaled the rickshaw because they were less expensive to hire than a horse. The driver and passenger of the Fischer rickshaw pictured here are wearing 1910 clothes, so the toy may have been made then. The price for this toy is no longer a penny; it sold for $5,400 at a Bertoia auction.

Q. I have a set of china that belonged to my mother-in-law. It’s marked “Epiag” and “Czechoslovakia” and is stamped “5082.” There are 12 place settings and several serving pieces. What’s the age and value?

A. The letters “EPIAG” stand for Erste (bohmische) Porzellan-Industrie (First Bohemian Porcelain Industry), a group of Bohemian porcelain manufacturers. The group was established as OEPIAG (Austrian Porcelain Industry) in 1918 and became EPIAG in 1920. Bohemia became part of Czechoslovakia at the end of World War I. EPIAG became part of Starorolsky Porcelan (Old Porcelain Group) in 1945. Your dinner set was made sometime between 1920 and 1945. Several online sources sell pieces marked “Epiag” and “5082.” A few companies continue to use the EPIAG mark. Dinner plates cost about $25 and a covered vegetable dish about $150.

Q. I found a little booklet titled “My Victory Book” while going through some old stuff from my childhood. It’s partially filled with 10-cent war stamps. They were used to buy war bonds for our American fighting men and women during World War II. Does this have any value today?

A. War bond stamps were issued beginning in 1942, after the United States entered World War II. Stamps were sold by the Post Office and some organizations in denominations of 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, one dollar or five dollars. A full book of stamps could be redeemed to buy a War Savings Bond. Bonds were issued in denominations of $25 to $1,000. The 10-cent book required 187 stamps plus a nickel, $18.75, to purchase a savings bond that matured at $25 in 10 years. Collectors sometimes buy the partially filled books as part of World War II history for $5 to $10.

Q. My mother gave me her aunt’s autograph book years ago and told me it was valuable. Her aunt was a missionary in China and Africa. The book has a note from David Livingstone, the famous missionary in Africa, written in October 1857. The note is a quotation from the Bible, written in a foreign language and then in English, signed and dated by Livingstone. How can I find out what it’s worth?

A. The value of an autograph depends on how famous the person is, how rare the autograph is and what the signature is on. A signed, handwritten letter is worth more than an autograph by itself. David Livingstone (1813-73) was a famous British explorer and medical missionary who made several trips to Africa beginning in 1841. If you want to sell the autograph, you should contact an auction house or gallery that specializes in autographs. They may be able to give you a general idea of value even if you’re not selling it. Livingstone letters sell for thousands of dollars and the signature and date are important.

Q. I have a couple of covered casserole or serving dishes made by Crown Ducal as part of its Florentine line. What are they worth?

A. Crown Ducal is a name used on some porcelain made by A.G. Richardson and Co. Ltd. of Tunstall and Cobridge, England, beginning in 1916. Florentine is the name of a shape made from the early 1930s to the 1960s. It has embossed borders, a slightly scalloped edge and an off-white or cream-colored ground. It was made in both plain and decorated patterns. Several sizes of casseroles were made in this shape. A 9-inch casserole with lid sold recently for $35.

TIP: You’ll find the best selection at a weekend show on Friday, the biggest crowd on Saturday and the best bargains on Sunday. Allow yourself plenty of time. Have a price range in mind. When you see it, buy it. And keep tabs on your wallet and purchases.

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.

– Powder flask, Colt Navy embossed, pistols, stars, eagle, shield, flags, cannon, anchor, bugle 6 3/4 x 3 inches, $245.

– Tom Mix club badge, bust, hat, Ralston Straight Shooter, red and white checkerboard, embossed metal, 1938, $380.

– Royal Copenhagen vase, warriors, shields, sandals, embroidered robes, white crackle ground, Denmark, c. 1950, 17 x 10 inches, $1,125.

– Console table, acid-etched mixed metals, black, Bernhard Rohne, Mastercraft, 26 x 60 inches, $1,410.

– Minton charger, cherub, carp, stingray, blue, glazed earthenware, William Coleman, c. 1880, 10 1/2 inches, $1,750.

– Rorstrand vase, porcelain, dragonfly, reticulated, white, pink, blue, Karl Lindstrom, Sweden, c. 1925, 8 1/2 x 6 inches, $2,250.

– Handel lamp, Venetian harbor, buildings, boats, reverse paint, patinated metal, c. 1915, 13 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches, $2,250.

– Moorcroft ice bucket, silver overlay, trees, blue, green, handles, signed Moorcroft Shreve Co., 8 x 12 inches, $2,500.

– L & J.G. Stickley bookcase, 3 doors, glass panes, escutcheons, keyholes, handles, c. 1910, 55 x 72 inches, $5,310.

– Superman ring, Supermen of the World, red, gold, Superman with balled fists, 1940s, $7,935.

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