This large figure is made of molded zinc, then painted to resemble the carved wooden figures used in the 19th century. It is the Goddess of Liberty, a familiar patriotic figure of the day. She was estimated at $15,000 to $20,000, but despite some damage and missing paint, sold for $25,200. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

This large figure is made of molded zinc, then painted to resemble the carved wooden figures used in the 19th century. It is the Goddess of Liberty, a familiar patriotic figure of the day. She was estimated at $15,000 to $20,000, but despite some damage and missing paint, sold for $25,200. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

America’s first symbol, Miss Liberty, is all but forgotten

She held a sword, wreath, shield decorated with stars and stripes, and wore the Phrygian liberty cap.

Patriotic symbols like the Statue of Liberty, the American flag, the bald eagle and Uncle Sam are easily recognized today, but our first symbol, Miss Liberty, is almost forgotten. Before the Revolutionary War, the word “liberty” was the battle cry.

Perhaps because a female figure was used to represent liberty in ancient Greece and an Indian Princess for the colonies, the early representation for America’s symbol was a woman. The figure was known as Columbia, Goddess of Liberty, Liberty or Miss Liberty. She usually held a sword, wreath, shield decorated with stars and stripes, and wore the Phrygian liberty cap.

By 1875, cast zinc figures of Lady Liberty were being made in New York by the William Demuth Co. Demuth was an artist who made many statues for use as lawn, buildings, parks and ships’ decorations. He later made figures for cigar stores and beer parlors that were a little less than 4 feet and sometimes as tall as 6½ feet.

Once the Statue of Liberty was in place in 1886, the Goddess of Liberty was almost entirely forgotten. She appeared again in posters and folk art during World War I. A large zinc Goddess of Liberty was auctioned at Garth’s in Delaware, Ohio, for $25,200.

Q: I believe I have an original Howdy Doody doll from around 1955. Can you give me the value?

A: “Howdy Doody” was a children’s television show broadcast from 1947 until 1960. Howdy was a redheaded, freckle-faced marionette wearing cowboy clothes. Effanbee made Howdy Doody dolls from about 1948 to 1951. The doll was 19½ inches tall and had a cloth body, composition head with sleep eyes and composition hands. Plastic dolls were made in the 1950s. Howdy Doody marionettes were also made. The early, used Effanbee doll in good condition and with the original box is worth about $300. Without the box it’s worth about $200.

Q: I have a 1930s Coca-Cola tray that has “Drink Coca-Cola” printed on the top and bottom. A girl is sitting holding a bottle of Coke on her lap. She’s wearing a yellow dress and a wide brimmed hat. It’s about 13¼ by 10½ inches. There are a few scratches on it. Does it have any value?

A: This tray is known as “Girl in Yellow Hat” or “Girl at Shade” and was made in 1938 by American Art Works Inc. of Coshocton, Ohio. There are collectors who specialize in Coca-Cola items, and trays in good condition sell well. If the scratches on your tray are noticeable, the value is lower. In good condition, the tray retails for about $200 to $300, but excellent copies have been made. They are sometimes marked on the rim.

Q: I’m trying to find information about a Zsolnay piece I inherited. The mark on the bottom looks like five tall towers. On one side of the mark it says “Zsolnay, Pecs” and on the other it has three initials written in script. The number “61” is painted on below the towers.

A: Vilmos Zsolnay founded a pottery studio in Pecs, Hungary, in 1853. The “tall towers” are five churches. The medieval name for the town translates as “Five Churches.” The initials next to the towers are “T.J.M.” and stand for Terez, Julia and Miklos, the children of Vilmos Zsolnay. This mark was used from 1878 to 1900. The number “61” is probably the pattern or decoration number. Look for impressed numbers on the bottom of the piece. They are form numbers and indicate the year the piece was introduced, but the piece may have been made for several years after that. A list of form numbers and corresponding dates is on DrawRm.com/zsolnaymarks.htm.

Q: I have a collection of Chokin pieces. Are they worth anything?

A: Chokin is a term for a type of metal engraving done in Japan as early as the 12th century. It was used to decorate swords and armor. It’s also the name for a line of 20th-century ceramic plates and other ceramic items stamped “The Art of Chokin.” They are made in Japan and are part of the Chokin Collection from Dynasty Gallery in San Francisco. They are “collector” plates, not meant to hold food. Collector plates aren’t as popular as they were several years ago, and most have dropped in value. Chokin ware sells online at sources like Ruby Lane and eBay. If you want to sell your collection, expect to get about half the retail price. It takes time and effort to try to sell things yourself, unless you can find a resale shop or antiques shop that will buy them or take them on consignment. Sometimes it’s easier to donate them to a charity and take the tax deduction. Chokin plates sell for $1 to about $30.

Tip: It isn’t always smart to remove engraving from silver. A coat of arms or quality engraving can add to the value of antique pieces. We never remove engraving. If anyone asks, we always say the initial belonged to a distant cousin.

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, The Daily Herald, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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.

Mary Gregory black glass box, coffin shape, black, children, ivy vine swags, gilt brass, bale handles, lock, 5 by 5½ inches, $260.

Tea caddy, tortoise shell, pagoda shape, silver inlay, mother-of-pearl, cartouche, 7½ by 4½ inches, $1,000.

Galle cameo glass vase, purple hydrangeas, green leaves, 17½ inches, $1,150.

Clock, banjo, dial, green paint, weight driven, pendulum, 33 inches, $1,410.

Rookwood porcelain plaque, enamel, trees, path, grasses, purple, yellow, green, blue, Louise Abel, frame, 1927, 8 by 4 inches, $1,540.

KPM table, porcelain top, songbirds, nest, flowers, tilt-top, brass adjustable stand, paw feet, Germany, circa 1880, 30 by 16 inches, $1,665.

Delft charger, William & Mary, crowns, curtain, banner, vine and flower rim, 13½ inches, $2,560.

Surveyor’s compass, star, engraved, sun rays, needle, figural snake, circa 1788, 13¼ inches, $2,820.

Lacquer box, gilt decoration, towns, armies, boats, palaces, rivers, landscape, black background, brass handles, circa 1811, 8 by 13 inches, $2,820.

Windmill weight, rooster, white, red, cast iron, circa 1900, 17 by 22 inches, $4,160.

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