Flintstones toys earn collectors a lot of clams

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2005 9:00pm
  • Life

Don’t throw away old toys you find in your attic. Some toys remembered from childhood – yours or your children’s – are selling for high prices today at collectibles sales. Some of the most popular are toys related to TV shows for children.

“The Flintstones,” a cartoon about the domestic life of a Stone Age family, was introduced in 1960. It ran in prime time until 1967 and then continued in syndication for many more years. A live-action movie was made that was based on the cartoon.

Many toys were based on the characters in the show, especially Fred and Wilma Flintstone, Barney and Betty Rubble, and Dino the dinosaur. Some were battery-operated toys, and examples in the original box are expensive today.

One toy has a vinyl-and-plush Dino with a tin seat on his back holding Fred, who has a vinyl head. Dino’s tail wiggles, Fred rocks back and forth, and Dino opens and closes his mouth and whistles. The purple plush used for Dino often is found faded, but a good, unfaded example in the original box sold recently. It brought more than $1,700.

I paid $20 at a house sale for a 20-inch glazed limestone or plaster abstract bust of a person who is half-man and half-woman. The woman has long hair in a braid and one breast. The man’s ear shows, and he is flat-chested. Etched on the back are the printed words “Austin Prod., Inc., 1961.” I would appreciate any information.

Austin Productions, Inc., has been in business for more than 50 years and continues to produce sculptures and giftware. There are Austin showrooms in seven American cities. Some Austin sculptures are new designs, but others are reproductions of famous classics. You paid a good price for your man-woman bust. Most Austin sculptures the age of yours sell for more.

A friend gave me a drum table that she thinks is an antique. It has a four-footed pedestal base and a drawer on one side. The word “Mersman” is stamped inside the drawer and on the bottom of the table.

Throughout most of the 20th century, Mersman Bros. Corp. was a major U.S. producer of tables in reproduction styles. The company claimed, in the 1920s, that it had manufactured one of every 10 tables in American homes. Mersman was founded in Ottoville, Ohio, in the 1870s, but moved to Celina, near Ohio’s border with Indiana, sometime before the 1920s. It closed in 1995. You can find many Mersman tables selling online and at house sales.

I have an old, nonelectric vacuum cleaner that was one of several like it stored in the basement of a hardware store until sometime in the 1940s. The vacuum was manufactured by the Aretino Co. of Chicago. It works by suctioning dirt into the long, slender, cylindrical body. There are two handles at the top, one coming straight from the body and the other perpendicular to it. Can you tell me how old the vacuum is, and if it has any collectible value?

Several types of nonelectric suction vacuums were invented and sold between 1860 and the 1930s, when electricity reached even most rural areas of the country. Yours is a plunger vacuum, the most common of the nonelectric types. They were made by many different companies under a 1911 patent license, so all of these machines date from the early 1900s. The user held the machine’s straight handle in one hand while using the other hand to pull the plunger into the cylinder. This created suction, drawing dust into a smaller tube inside. Because antique plunger vacuums are not rare, they sell for $25 or less.

My set of Limoges dinnerware was originally purchased in 1985. It’s not old, but I’m wondering if you can identify it. I have eight six-piece place settings. The pieces are white with a gold-and-silver border. The marks on the bottom are the words “Limoges, France, Ceralene,” the letter “R” and a circular mark picturing a rooster.

Ceralene is porcelain dinnerware made by Raynaud &Co., a manufacturing firm in the city of Limoges that traces its roots back to 1882. Some Ceralene dishes are marked with the pattern name, so look for it on the bottom of all of your dishes. In addition, many Ceralene patterns are pictured on the Web sites of replacement services.

The Kovels answer as many questions as possible through the column. Write to Kovels, The Herald, King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.

2005 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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