Sometimes modern art is hard to understand, and often it is meant to be a joke.
David Gilhooly (1943-2013) was a successful contemporary artist who often included big or small realistic or comic frogs in his sculptures. He is known as the founder and father of the Bay Area Funk Art group in the 1960s. Although he had dozens of exhibitions and made art from papier-mache, plastic, clay and trash, he is best known for the green frogs.
His most controversial sculpture is a crucified frog, now in a museum collection. Almost all his sculptures were fantasies, meant to be funny or have a satirical message. He sculpted frogs in salads, wedding cakes, pizzas, frying pans and with hats.
Look carefully at this Gilhooly sculpture. It sold for $2,125, although it is only 8 inches high. Nice-looking realistic sandwich with tomato, cheese, lettuce, pickle and onion on a sesame seed bun and — April Fool! — don’t forget the bright green frog.
Q: I have several Barbie dolls and four boxes of Barbie doll clothes I’d like to sell. What are they worth and where is the best place to sell them?
A: Over a billion Barbie dolls have been made, and millions are still produced each year. Prices range from under $10 to thousands of dollars. The first Barbie doll was produced by Mattel Creations in 1959 and sold for $3. She wore a black and white striped bathing suit, high heel shoes, earrings and sunglasses. The first Barbie had holes in her feet and copper tubes in her legs and came with a stand. Barbie No. 1 sells for several thousand dollars today. Vintage Barbie dolls sell at auctions, antiques shops, doll shows and online. As with most collectibles, rarity and condition affect price. Dolls in original clothing still in the original packaging are worth more than similar items that have been played with. You can find lists of Barbie dolls and her accessories with prices online and at Kovels.com/prices.
Q: I found some dishes marked “Beacon Hill, by British Anchor, Staffordshire, England, Ironstone” in the basement of my house. I’d love to know if they are worth something. Can you help me?
A: Beacon Hill is the name of a pattern made by British Anchor Pottery, an earthenware manufacturer in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. The company was in business from 1884 to 1970, when it was sold to another Staffordshire company, the Gailey Group Ltd. This mark, with pattern name included, was used beginning in 1945. A different mark with a date code added was used beginning in 1954. Dinnerware is hard to sell. Even complete sets for eight sell for less than $200. You might want to give them to a charity or a consignment shop.
Q: Sixty-seven years ago I bought a clock that says “B.B. Lewis Perpetual Calendar, Patented 2/4/1862, 9/15/63 and 12/20/1868. Welch Spring & Co., Bristol, Conn. USA.” What’s it worth?
A: The perpetual calendar clock was invented by Benjamin B. Lewis, a jeweler in Ohio. He moved to Connecticut to be closer to the major clockmakers, and the first clocks using his mechanism were made in 1859. Welch Spring & Co. made perpetual calendar clocks with B.B. Lewis’ mechanism from 1868 to 1884. The clocks were made in many different cases. Your clock was made between 1868 and 1881, when Lewis was granted another patent. Sale prices run $275 to $1,560, depending on design.
Q: What can you tell me about a Red Comet Fire Grenade salesman’s kit that dates to 1943. It’s complete with lightbulb shape bulbs, testimonials from users, price list, training manuals and liquids to start small fires and put them out in customers’ homes.
A: The Red Comet Co. started in Denver in 1919. It made several different types of fire extinguishers. The glass bulbs are called grenades. Metal brackets fastened to the wall held the grenade until it was needed. When the grenade was thrown on the fire, it broke open and tried to put the fire out. The company also made heat-activated brackets with spring-loaded triggers that could break the glass bulb to release the liquid. Early grenades were filled with saltwater. Later, carbon tetrachloride was used. That substance was banned in 1980. The U.S. military used Red Comet fire extinguishers doing World War II. After the war, the company hired salesmen to sell Red Comet fire grenades door-to-door. The company is in business, now in Englewood, Colorado. It no longer manufactures fire extinguishers but sells and services other brands of extinguishers and equipment.
Tip: Try to keep your paper collectibles out of the light. If you frame and display some pieces, keep them on the dark side of the room, away from sunlight and direct lamp light.
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 Drive, 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.
Sewing, stand, Martha Washington style, mahogany, line inlay, demilune bin ends with hinged lids, three drawers, 28 by 28¾ inches, $59.
Furniture, bucket bench, softwood, shaped sides, two shelves, Pennsylvania, 1800s, 44½ by 56 inches, $384.
Coverlet, jacquard, red, blue, green and cream, flowers, J. Heilbronn, Ross Co., Ohio, 1842, 72 by 88 inches, $472.
Scientific instrument, telescope, single draw, mahogany, brass, Presented by J. Coffin, Boston Harbor, July 24, 1813, 26 inches, $960.
Toy, train car, Marklin, box car, Heinz, 57 Varieties, Tomato Ketchup, 0 Gauge, 7½ inches, $1,200.
Purse, quilted, black lambskin, leather strap, gold CC logo on turning closure, Chanel, 1997, 5 by 10 inches, $1,625.
Star Wars, toy, action figure, Luke Skywalker, holding lightsaber, on 12-Back Card, Kenner, 1977, $1,770.
Teco vase, small mouth, torpedo shaped lobes, skirted bottom, matte green, circa 1910, 8½ by 4 inches, $2,000.
Tiffany silver tray, rounded rectangle, gadrooned rim, shell and scroll corners, stirrup handles, circa 1975, 26½ by 16¾ inches, $3,250.
Coca-Cola, advertising sign, woman on boat, holding bottle, It Cools You, cardboard, A. Loomis, 1936, wood frame, 38 by 21 inches, $6,150.