Rinker on Collectibles: More Questions and Answers

QUESTION: I own a framed Maxfield Parrish “Daybreak” print. The frame measures 20in by 12 1/4in. A label on the back indicates it was purchased from the Art Department of A. S. Johnson & Co. in Tacoma, Washington. What is my print worth? – BS,, Wescoesville, PA

ANSWER: Maxfield Parrish (July 25, 1870-March 30, 1966) is one of America’s best known artists and illustrators. Born Frederick Parrish, he added Maxfield, the maiden name of his paternal grandmother, as a middle name, using it professionally as his “first” name.

His father was an engraver and landscaper artist. Maxfield Parrish attended Haverford College and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1897 he received a commission to illustrate L. Frank Baum’s Mother Goose in Prose. His career accelerated. By the 1910s, Parrish’s work was found in leading magazines of the times, e.g., Colliers and Life, and in advertisements for Colgate, Edison-Mazda Lamps, Fisk Tires, Oneida Cutlery, and Wanamaker’s, a Philadelphia department store. Bored by illustration assignments, Parrish turned to painting. He lived off the calendar, print, and poster royalties of his paintings, many of which had a fantasy theme. In the early 1930s, Parrish switched to landscapes declaring, according to the Associated Press, “I’m done with girls on rocks.” Parrish, who continued to paint until age 91, lived near Cornish, New Hampshire.

Parrish painted “Daybreak” in 1922, referring to it as “the great painting.” House of Art obtained the print rights and published prints of various sizes. “Daybreak” was a sensation. It established Parrish as the leading illustrator of his time, his popularity exceeding that of Norman Rockwell. “Daybreak” was displayed in one of every four American homes.

“Daybreak” resembles a stage set, with two columns in the foreground and a painted mountainous scene in the background. Kitty Owens, Parrish’s daughter, and Susan Lewin served as models.

Christie’s sold the “Daybreak” painting for $7.6 million dollars on May 25, 2006. It is owned privately. Whoopi Goldberg owns a study Parrish did for the work. Both were exhibited at The National Museum of American Illustration in July-August 2006.

The photographs that accompanied your letter shows the “Daybreak” print still is housed in its period frame. There are several different period frames known. The frame on your print is among the most common. Most frames are painted in a gold, pale sky blue, and dark blue color scheme.

The acidic backing board in your frame needs to be removed and replaced with acid-free (museum) board. The acid leaching into the back of your print can cause discoloration and brittleness. Preserve the typed title label and sellers’s label from the back dust paper. Have the frame shop create an acetate pocket for this information and attach the pocket to the back of the new acid-free backing board.

The survival rate for a Maxfield Parrish “Daybreak” print in its period frame is high. Further, the market is flooded thanks to eBay. A half dozen or more listings appear each month. The current secondary market value for your “Daybreak” print is around $200.00, down by one-third from its high in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

QUESTION: When my brother passed away in 2000, I inherited a Sessions mantel clock featuring a dome (camel hump) center and tapering sides. The dark case is accented by light veneer with a dark diamond in the center that is located beneath the clock between 4:00 to 8:00 o’clock. The clock has an eight-day movement. My brother purchased the clock for $175.00 in November 1998. What is it worth today? – WW, New Ringgold, PA

ANSWER: Connecticut manufacturers were responsible for most of the American-made clocks produced between the early 1800s and the middle of the twentieth century. William E. Sessions and other family members purchased the E. N. Welch Company, a clock manufacturer located in Forrestville, Connecticut, around 1900. Sessions owned a foundry in Bristol, Connecticut, that produced cases for Welch. The Sessions Clock Company, combining the assets of the two individual companies, was created on January 9, 1903.

Sessions produced 52 models of mechanical clocks between 1903 and 1933. It also produced a line of inexpensive clocks sold under the Attleboro Clock Company brand name. While still manufacturing wound, brass movement clocks, Sessions started production of electric clocks and timers for radios in 1930.

In 1960 Bristol Instrument Gears Company bought the Sessions Clock buildings in Bristol. The Sessions Company survived until 1969.

Your brother paid top market price for your clock. In fact, he overpaid. The 1997 market value of the clock was closer to $75.00 than it was to $175.00.

An example of your clock recently sold on eBay for just over $50.00 plus shipping and postage. The seller identified the model as “Dulciana.” Realistically, the value of your clock is between $60.00 and $75.00.

QUESTION: As a kid during the 1940s, I collected buttons with pins on the back from boxes of cereal called Kellogg’s Pep. These buttons had insignia of various World War II outfits, mostly air force groups, squadrons, etc. At the end of the war, the button images switched to cartoon characters such as Maggie and Jiggs, Popeye, Hans and Fritz, and so on. Most people I talk with do not remember the buttons. I used to cut some of the rim off my father’s old felt hats to create a serrated edge. I had the hat full of buttons. As you might expect, Mom threw them out. I have been trying to obtain some of these buttons, but without success. Where can I find them? – FG, E-mail Question

ANSWER: Kellogg’s Pep, a wheat flake cereal, was introduced in 1923. Will Keith Kellogg (April 7, 1860 –October 6, 1951), a healthy lifestyle proponent, was committed to the constant improvement of his products. A spray method was used to add vitamins to Kellogg’s Pep flakes in the early 1930s.

TRIVIA QUESTION: What cereal did Kellogg’s introduce in 1927?

Ted Hake’s The Official Hake’s Price Guide to Character Toys, Sixth Edition (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group / Gemstone Publishing, 2006) has a section on Kellogg’s cereal premiums and other memorabilia. In 1943 Kellogg’s Pep offered a series of thirty-six Military Insignia lithograph pinback buttons and a set of twelve Pep Airplane lithograph pinback buttons. Examples from the first series sell in the $10.00 range in fine condition, from the latter between $50.00 and $65.00.

According to Hake, Kellogg issued a set of 86 comic character buttons: “Issued in 1945-46 sealed in paper or cellophane packet inside specially marked boxes of Kellogg’s Pep cereal. There were 5 sets each of 18 buttons, but Superman was included in each set, so the result is 86 different buttons.” Hake values a complete, near mint set at $2,000.00. Most buttons sell for around $15.00 in fine condition. The Felix and Phantom buttons command higher prices.

I did a “Kellogg’s Pep +pin” Google search and found numerous sites offering buttons for sale. EBay is a major source, albeit it pays to search by character rather than “Kellogg’s Pep.” You also can find the buttons at flea markets and antiques toy shows.

The buttons are very susceptible to wear. Only buy buttons in fine or better condition. The survival rate is high. Hence, patience and comparison shopping will save you money.

DO NOT, repeat DO NOT pay a premium for “graded” buttons. While I am not opposed to grading per se, grading these inexpensive pinback buttons is ridiculous. Grading is an excuse to charge five to ten times what the button is worth.

For Your Information—In January 31, 2008, Hake’s Americana & Collectibles sold a Kellogg’s Pep cereal box featuring a front ad for Pep pins with images of Moon Mullins, Orphan Annie, and Superman and back featuring an 8-panel Superman comic strip, “Superman And The Terrible Underseas Monster,” No. 1 of a set of 12, for $1,262.79—not a bad price for an empty old cereal box.

Good luck assembling a new pin collection.

QUESTION: Yesterday I read an article in the AARP magazine citing a Barbie Doll that just sold for $5,998.00. I have the exact doll in the original box with accessories. She is a 1959 teenage fashion model with pedestal, Stock #850, Blonde Bubble Cut, and in excellent condition. Can you direct me to an interested buyer? – DM, St. Augustine, FL, E-mail Question

ANSWER: You do not have the same Barbie doll. The Barbie that sold was Barbie No. 1, the “first” Barbie. Your Barbie was made several years later. See Marcie Melillo’s The Ultimate Barbie Doll Book (Krause Publications, 1996) or dollhabit.com to properly identify your Barbie.

Your Bubble Cut Barbie dates from 1961 to 1967. Its value is a far cry from $6,000.00. Think low hundreds, at best. Its resale market is the Internet or a specialized doll auction.

TRIVIA QUESTION ANSWER: Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.

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.

Copyright © Rinker Enterprises, Inc. 2008

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