Celebrity image Dixie cups the cream of crop

  • Ralph and Terry Kovel / Antiques & Collectibles
  • Wednesday, April 4, 2007 9:00pm
  • Life

There is a saying: “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Collectors understand this better than most other people. Old ads, milk bottles, worn shoes, spark plugs, barbed wire, insulators, credit cards, swizzle sticks, key-chain tags and empty boxes that once held bullets all are seriously collected by groups who have even formed clubs to trade information.

Did you ever think of saving old paper cups? Not just any paper cup. It should be decorated to show it was used at an event like a World’s Fair or the Olympics. Or it should have an important brand name like Coca-Cola or picture celebrities like Hopalong Cassidy. The cup’s decoration must indicate either an event or a date.

The Dixie cup, one of the world’s oldest paper cups, was just an idea in 1907. The Public Cup Vendor Co. was incorporated in 1909 to make the cups, and by 1919 it was named the Dixie Cup Co. At first, no one wanted disposable cups, but during the flu epidemic of 1918, laws banned public communal drinking glasses.

Soon, paper cups were also used to hold ice cream and other products, and more companies started manufacturing throwaway containers. In 1930, pictures of animals or presidents were added to Dixie cup ice-cream lids. Movie stars were featured in 1933, war planes and ships in the 1940s, then baseball players in 1952.

Top lid prices today are for the 1952 baseball series. Sample prices for cups from past years by various manufacturers include a Coca-Cola cup, 1960, $20; Popeye on a Happy Birthday cup, 1950s, $8; Dairy Queen cup, 1949, $8; and Votes for Women, Empire States, 1915, $200. It pays to save trash.

Many suits the age of your mother’s came with leggings and shoes. Women took the shoes off, then went into the water, leggings and all. Collectors of vintage clothing might pay $100 or more for your suit.

Hong Kong was a British crown colony from 1842 to 1997, when it was returned to mainland China. Hong Kong’s production of inexpensive exports, including porcelain souvenirs and novelties, developed during the 1950s. So most items like those, with a “Made in Hong Kong” label, date from after World War II. Since 1997, items made in Hong Kong for export are labeled either “Made in Hong Kong” or “Made in China.”

I have an antique finger lamp with the name “Ripley &Co.” inscribed on the glass globe that held the oil. The lamp has a rod-type iron handle on one side. The patent date on the lamp is April 5, 1870. Can you tell me more?

Ripley &Co. was founded in Pittsburgh in 1866 by six partners. One of the partners, Daniel C. Ripley (the only Ripley involved), patented a process of making a special kind of glass oil lamp. It had a glass font, stem and base with two handles (although it also could be made with just one handle). Ripley’s patents for this lamp were granted in 1868. The April 1870 patent date on your lamp relates to Ripley’s later invention of an iron handle. Ripley &Co. was one of several western Pennsylvania and Ohio glass manufacturers that merged in 1891 to form the U.S. Glass Co. of Pittsburgh. Your lamp probably dates from the 1870s. If in excellent condition, it would sell for about $200.

We have an antique bedroom suite tagged Berkey &Gay. Are you familiar with the company?

Berkey &Gay is a company well-known to collectors. Julius Berkey started working in 1859 making doors and blinds. He soon began making furniture and had a succession of partners. George Gay bought half of the company in 1866 and The Berkey &Gay Furniture Co. was incorporated in 1873. It became a leading manufacturer of furniture in the Victorian Gothic Revival and Eastlake styles. Although the company later added the then-latest styles of Mission and Golden Oak, it went bankrupt in 1932. It reopened in 1936, but finally closed for good in 1948.

Write to Kovels, The Herald, King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.

2007 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

On the block

Current prices are recorded from antique shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Ideal dolls, Pete and Repete, vinyl heads, curly brown hair, googly eyes, magic-skin body, twin bunting, 1950, 10 inches, pair, $80.

Butter churn and grinder, marked “Dazey Churn Mfg. Co.,” original works, “No. 20” written on gear, 1 qt., $145.

Jacquard coverlet, red, green and blue wool on natural cotton, four roses and leaves circle center design, birds on floral vine, sawtooth diamond border, 82 x 89 inches, $210.

Piggy bank, “I Made Chicago Famous,” black, cast iron, Arcade, c. 1900, 4 inches, $255.

Deb-U-Teen Lunch and Thermos bottle kit, Styrofoam thermos, Hasbro, 1950s, $455.

Cast-iron doorstop, English bulldog puppies in barrel, signed “Steacy &Wilton Co., Wrightsville, Pa., copyright 1932,” 63/4 x 81/4 inches, $695.

Royal Products Little King store sign, Little King carrying banner, “Always Reach for Royal,” 1950s, 15 x 20 inches, $750.

Federal mahogany lolling chair, arched crest, shaped arms, molded legs, black-and-white checkered upholstery, c. 1800, 44 x 27 x 22 inches, $900.

Wild-turkey platter, dark green and brown concentric border, woodland Tom Turkey center, Blue Ridge china, stamped, 1940s, 17 x 13 inches, $1,495.

Tiffany glass flower-form vase, leaves engraved into gold ground, light green leaves dangling from vines, 61/8 inches, $2,415.

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