This early cardboard Cream of Wheat trolley car sign auctioned online at for $200. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

This early cardboard Cream of Wheat trolley car sign auctioned online at for $200. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Was Cream of Wheat served cold? Antique sign suggests campaign

Most advertising, even today, promotes cooked cereal as eaten hot. When cold, some get hard and lumpy.

Cream of Wheat, a cereal first marketed in 1898, is still a popular winter breakfast cereal. A trolley sign in a recent auction showed the picture of a box of Cream of Wheat and two children eating it from a bowl. The sign read, “Summer Favorite Served Cold with Fruit.” Was Cream of Wheat originally served cold? Most advertising, even today, promotes the use of the hot, cooked cereal for a winter breakfast.

Other popular cooked cereals — oatmeal, cornmeal, Ralston, Maltex, Farina and Wheatena — are like Cream of Wheat in that they could be eaten cold but are always advertised as hot cereals. When cold, some get hard and lumpy, but all could be a breakfast cereal, especially if fresh fruit is added. We searched the internet and cookbooks and not one suggested that cold Cream of Wheat might be served at breakfast. Did the company have an advertising campaign that promoted it?

This sign could have been part of the advertising. The box is one used in the 1930s, though the clothes seem more like the 1940s. The trolley sign is 12½ by 22½ inches, made of cardboard or heavy paper, and in good condition. Someone is bound to buy it just for the memories of the cold, lumpy breakfast. Or maybe with a lot of maple syrup or bacon, it was a favorite cold breakfast.

Q: I’d like information about a Japanese woodblock print that’s been in my family for over 80 years. It’s 12 inches high, 8 inches wide and came with information that says it’s called “Tatami-Shi” (Mat Maker). It’s by Mitsuoki Tosa and part of a set of pictures called “A Collection of Pictures of Artisans.” Can you tell me how old this is?

A: Mitsuoki Tosa was a Japanese painter who lived from 1617 to 1691. (Japanese names are often listed last name first, so Mitsuoki Tosa is often written as Tosa Mitsuoki.) He reintroduced the classical Japanese style of painting known as Yamato-e. Your print is a reproduction of one of his paintings, which was included in the series depicting artisans working in old, traditional ways. Although the painting of the Mat Maker was done in the 1600s, the woodblock print was probably made in the 1920s. It has been reproduced many times and can be found on prints, posters and greeting cards. The 1920s prints sell for about $60. Modern copies are available for $35.

Q: I have a cane with a brass handle in the shape of a horse’s head. The head unscrews to reveal space for a small flask sealed with a cork. The shaft of the cane unscrews into three sections. What is the potential value?

A: Canes weren’t only used as an aid to walking but were also popular fashion accessories in the 1700s to the early 1900s. Canes with special features or those that conceal items are called gadget canes. They were made for both men and women. Canes have been made that conceal flasks, cameras, drugs, fans, guns, lighters, maps, perfume bottles, pool cues, sewing kits, snuff, surgical instruments, swords, telescopes, tools and other items. The material of the head, any special features and condition determine price. Some gadget canes sell for several hundred dollars, some for less than $50. Horse’s head gadget canes with concealed flasks sold recently for $40 to $90.

Q: We’re cleaning out our mom’s house and trying to decide what to sell, what to donate, and what to pitch. How can we determine the value of things?

A: Values have changed in the past 20 years. Figurines are hard to sell, 1950s furniture is easy. Look online to get an idea of what is selling. Go to It has a million past prices and information about prices, auction house names, collector groups, events and more, organized to make searches easy.

Q: We have a teapot marked “Arthur Wood & Son, Staffordshire, England, Est. 1884, 6304.” It’s 5¾ inches high and 9¼ inches wide from handle to spout. There are roses in shades of red and pink on the front and smaller roses on the back, a rose on the spout and one on the lid. We’re senior citizens, computer-free, with no smartphone. We’d like to find out what this teapot is worth before we put it out for a garage sale.

A: The company known as Arthur Wood & Son began operating under that name in 1928. It traces its beginnings to 1884, when Arthur Wood joined with Alfred and William Capper to found Capper and Co. The partnership dissolved in 1893, and Alfred Capper and Arthur Wood continued to work together until 1904, when Arthur Wood became sole owner. His son joined the business in 1924, and it became Arthur Wood & Son four years later. The company was sold in 1989 and sold again in 2003. It is no longer in business. Arthur Wood & Son is known for its teapots. Each teapot has a four-digit pattern number. Teapots with pattern number 6304, with colorful roses, were made in several sizes and shapes. They sell for $45 to $65.

Tip: An original stained clock dial is more valuable than a new repainted dial.

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.

Moorcroft pottery sugar bowl, stylized blue and yellow flowers, green and cobalt blue glazed ground, footed, marked “W. Moorcroft, Potter To The Queen,” 3 by 4 inches, $65.

Brass umbrella stand, embossed classical figures, scrolled bands, egg and dart bands, gilt, tapered, flared base, four paw feet, 26 inches, $110.

Cut glass lusters, ruby red cut to clear, baluster top with frosted leaf design, pedestal base with diamond cutting, 10 hanging clear cut prisms, circa 1910, 15¼ by 5 inches, pair, $390.

Masonic pendant, Knights Templar symbols, cross, crown, In Hoc Signo Vinces, 14K gold, square, black and red enamel, sphynx and sword connector, 1¼ inches, $490.

Furniture, games table, Louis Philippe, walnut, carved, stepped circular top, inset eglomise chess board, tripod base, carved beech chess pieces, 28 by 28⅝ inches, $690.

Purse, Hermes, Vespa PM, light brown topstitched leather, mantel closure with gold metal chain and bar, open pocket inside, shoulder strap, 11 by 11 by 3 inches, $885.

Silver, fish serving set, chased with cutouts, two intertwined fish handle, mussel shell ends, Georg Jensen, circa 1914, two pieces, $1,380.

Jewelry, necklace, watch pendant, 18K gold engine turned case, white gold scrolls, diamonds, blue guilloche bezel, matte gold dial, Arabic numerals, link chain, 17 jewel movement, marked, Longines, Wittnauer & Co., Swiss, 20 inches, $1,625.

Native American Indian bowl, Ho-Chunk, wood, stylized bird form, elongated neck and tail handles, Great Lakes, circa 1850, 3 by 11 by 5 inches, $2,500.

Furniture, bookcase, oak, two doors with glass panels, four shelves, arched skirt, red decal, Als Ik Kan and joiner’s compass, Harvey Ellis, circa 1903, 58 by 54 inches, $5,625.

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