There’s finding a toy in your food packaging, and then there’s making a toy from the packaging. Towle’s Log Cabin brand provided a rolling platform to turn their iconic syrup tin into a pull toy.

There’s finding a toy in your food packaging, and then there’s making a toy from the packaging. Towle’s Log Cabin brand provided a rolling platform to turn their iconic syrup tin into a pull toy.

Advertising was targeted at kids back in Grandpa’s day, too

This Log Cabin Express toy transformed into a toy after its days as a pancake syrup dispenser were finished.

Toys have been used as advertising premiums for more than 100 years, from the cloth dolls that first appeared in the 19th century and baseball cards initially issued by tobacco companies to Cracker Jack prizes and more recent toys in cereal boxes or kids’ fast-food meals.

This “Log Cabin Express” toy, which sold for $150 at an online auction on, is an unusual case: the tin can of Log Cabin syrup didn’t come with a toy, it became the toy! The rolling platform was the premium. It attaches to the empty tin to turn it into a pull toy. The tin was already eye-catching with its cabin shape and colorful lithographs. One side is marked as “Table Size,” suggesting consumers “Serve From The Can.” Long before today’s environmental concerns and zero-waste movements, this company encouraged reusing its packaging. After all, why make a brightly colored figural tin if it’s only going to be thrown away?

Q: I have a few different sets of well-cared-for china I received from a grandparent and would like to know the value. How can I find out what they’re worth and where to sell them?

A: Sets of dinnerware are hard to sell. You can get an idea of value by checking websites that sell dinnerware, such as or shops and sellers on eBay, Etsy and others. has a list of websites that sell household goods titled “Popular Apps & Websites to Buy or Sell Collectibles, Household Goods, and More.” Places that sell antique dinnerware also buy it. They will offer you a percentage of the price they expect to sell it for because they have to make a profit. Consider the work and expense of securely packing, insuring and shipping the dishes to the buyer. It’s easier to try to sell the dishes at a local consignment shop if they’ll take them. You can also donate them to a local charity and take the tax deduction.

Q: I’ve been collecting glass for a couple of years and own many Fenton pieces. I came across a green glass cat figurine without the Fenton sticker on it, but the bottom is etched “Mike Fenton 1997.” Did someone do that in hopes of making a sale, or is it authentic? If authentic, is it worth more being signed?

A: Michael Fenton is the grandson of Frank L. Fenton, one of the brothers who founded Fenton Art Glass in Martins Ferry, Ohio, in 1905. At first, they decorated glass made by other companies. In 1907, they opened a factory in Williamstown, West Virginia, and began making their own glass. The company was once the largest manufacturer of handmade colored glass in the United States. It stopped making art glass in 2011, and the assets were sold. Mike Fenton worked at Fenton in various positions. We’ve seen Fenton pieces with the etched or painted signature “Mike Fenton” and with “Michael Fenton.” Painted glass pieces etched with his name were also signed by the decorator. Some pieces are numbered, indicating they are part of a limited edition. Since your cat doesn’t have a Fenton sticker, the signature helps authenticate it and adds value.

Q: I have too many antiques and vintage objects from the early 1900s and middle 1800s that have been left to me from family. My children (all married with children) have no desire for any of my antiques or vintage collection, which includes dishes, silverware, toys, books, blanket boxes (1800s) and multiple objects that are collectors’ dreams. How do I find buyers who will want them?

A: Many people face this dilemma. My biggest piece of advice is, first and foremost, don’t just donate everything or have a big garage sale! You could be letting valuable items (and money) slip through your fingers. Going through your collection will take time and effort, as well as help from some experts in furniture, toys and other collectibles. Your first step is looking over the Kovels guide to downsizing, located in the “How to Buy or Sell” section of Good luck!

Q: I have a 16-ounce teapot marked “Ellgreave” and “A Div. of Wood & Sons, England.” The mark also includes a shield with a lion on it and “Ralph 1750 Moses 1751 Enoch 1784.” Can you tell me how old it is and if it has any value?

A: Several members of the Wood family made pottery. Wood & Son was founded in Burslem, England, in 1865 by a descendant of Moses Wood, one of the three brothers listed on the mark on your teapot. The name of the company became Wood & Sons about 1907. Ellgreave Pottery was founded in Burslem in 1921 by Harry Wood, the chairman of Wood & Sons. In 1967, Ellgreave was voluntarily liquidated (as a separate company), and Wood pottery took over production using the Ellgreave name until 1978. Wood & Sons was sold in 1982 and closed in 2005. Your teapot was made after Ellgreave became a division of Wood & Sons in 1967. Most Ellgreave teapots sell for $20 to $30.

TIP: Silver jewelry should be kept in an anti-tarnish bag, often the bag it came in, when you are not wearing it.

On the block

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.

Jewelry, pin, Christmas tree, gold tone openwork, tiny gilt balls, blue, red, clear and green glass stones, marked, Eisenberg, 2 inches, $25.

Advertising display, Coca-Cola, Santa Claus, Take Home Coca-Cola Santa Packs, backboard with snowy night scene, Coke delivery trucks with lights, attached cardboard truck with Enjoy Coca-Cola, back 36 by 46 inches, truck 38 by 14 by 10 inches, $115.

Doll, Lenci, Christiana, felt, pressed and painted, side-glancing eyes, green dress, white apron with holly trim, special edition for Christmas 1982, tags, original box, 13 inches, $120.

Pair of Christmas ornaments, kugels, cluster of grapes, one gold glass, one blue glass, Germany, late 1800s, 4¼ inches, $285.

Toy, tractor, John Deere No. 4520, gunmetal gray metal, 1/16 scale, Columbus Ohio Collector Edition, original box, $345.

Silver, German tea set, arched panels all around, short tapered foot, C-shape handles, teapot with tapered and stepped finial, marked for Josef Krischer Nachfolger of Dusseldorf, early 1900s, teapot 6¼ by 10½ inches, three pieces, $420.

Furniture, bench, walnut, 10 slats, chrome base, George Nelson for Herman Miller, 14 by 48 by 18 inches, $680.

Christmas tree, aluminum, Pom Pom, “The Sparkler,” 124 branch, Star Band Co., Virginia, original box, 84 inches, $935.

Enamel, plaque, modernist abstract bird form, multicolor, yellow, turquoise, white, black, gold foil accents, on steel, signed Edward Winter, midcentury oak frame, 35 by 17 inches, $1,080.

Bronze sculpture, Two Pointers, dogs, standing on naturalistic base, brown patina, oval ebonized wood base, signed, Pierre-Jules Mene, c.1900, 10 by 19 by 9 inches, $1,440.

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