Energy use and cost are big problems today, but our ancestors found some simple solutions. Conestoga Auction Co. in Pennsylvania sold a goat cart in 2013 for $236. Was it a toy? A farm tool?
Animal power was important in past years. Of course, there were horse-drawn plows and wagons. But there were also dog- and sheep-powered treadmills used to help churn butter. Donkeys, mules — and, in other countries, elephants and camels — furnished power for farm work and transportation.
But goat carts have been popular not only for pulling wagons of farm products, but also as entertainment for children. From the late 19th century into the 1930s, traveling photographers took goat cart pictures. A child sat in the cart and the photographer took the cute picture and printed a photograph or a postcard.
Dozens of these vintage goat cart pictures, most from Midwestern towns, can be found on the Internet. Iron and tin toys made from about 1890 to 1940 are replicas of children or men in goat carts.
This old idea may be coming back. There is now a dog-powered wheelchair for injured veterans.
Q: My dresser belonged to my mother. She gave it to me many years ago. One drawer is marked “Kroehler, world’s largest furniture manufacturer, Permanized furniture.” I would like to sell it, but I don’t know how to go about it and how much to ask for it.
A: Peter E. Kroehler started out as a clerk at the Naperville Lounge Co. in 1893 and bought the company in 1903. He founded P.E. Kroehler Manufacturing Co. in Kankakee, Ill., in 1911. He merged the two companies with two other furniture manufacturers in 1915 to form Kroehler Manufacturing Co.
The “Permanized” finish was advertised as moisture-proof. The company was sold in 1981. A new Kroehler double dresser and mirror sold for about $175 in 1957. Value today, if it’s in great condition, is about $200.
Q: I have a vase that my mother owned for many years. The top edge is gilt and scalloped and the vase has two handles. The mark on the bottom is “Usona” over a standing dragon with “Goodwin” underneath it. Unfortunately, one of the handles broke off so I’m sure it isn’t worth much, but I’d like to know who made it and how old it is.
A: The dragon mark was used from about 1906 to 1913 by Goodwin Pottery Co. of East Liverpool, Ohio. The company was in business from 1893 to 1913. You are right — the missing handle destroys the value.
Q: I have a battery-operated roller-skating monkey called Clancy that was one of my favorite childhood toys. It’s hard plastic and is about 22 inches tall. Batteries fit into one of his shoes. His head moves from side to side and he moves forward when you put a coin in his hand or into his hat, which can be attached to his hand. What is Clancy worth today?
A: Clancy the Great, a roller-skating monkey, was made by Ideal Toy Co. in 1963. It was designed by Marvin Glass &Associates, a toy design company in Chicago. The toy came with two metal “coins.” If it’s in good working condition and you have the original box, the toy sells for about $100 today.
Q: My mother bought me an Elvis Presley overnight case in 1956. The copyright date of 1956 is on the bottom. The case has pictures of Elvis and his autograph on the cover and sides, blue trim and a blue handle. She paid $7 for it at W.E. Walker 5 &10 cent store, where she worked. Can you tell me the value of it now?
A: Elvis Presley’s first records were produced by Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn., in 1954. His rock-and-roll style and suggestive moves made him a popular but controversial figure back then. In 1956 he began recording for RCA and appeared in his first movie.
Although he died in 1977, he remains one of the most popular recording stars of all time, with more than a billion records sold. The overnight case was made with blue or brown trim and handles. They have sold at auction for $200 to more than $400.
Q: I have an 11-inch frosted glass wine bottle with a music box built into the bottle’s recessed bottom. The bottle is marked “Bols” around the bottom, but the wooden bottom of the music box is marked “Bottle made in France, Musical unit made in Switzerland.” When the bottle is picked up, the music box plays. There’s a little pin on the bottom that winds the music box and stops the music when the bottle is set down. What is the history and value of this bottle?
A: The Lucas Bols company, based in Amsterdam, is the oldest distillery in the world. It traces its history back to 1575. But its glass music-box bottles, including examples with a dancing ballerina inside, date from the middle of the 20th century. They usually sell for $20 to $50.
Q: I inherited my grandmother’s set of china. The dishes are decorated with red and yellow roses. Each one has an octagonal mark with “Semi W.M. Co. Porcelain” inside it. Can you tell me who made this china and how old it is?
A: Willets Manufacturing Co. of Trenton, N.J., made your dishes. The pottery was in business from 1879 to about 1912. It used the octagonal mark on semi-porcelain made between 1879 and 1909.
Tip: To clean an old teddy bear, cover it with cheesecloth and vacuum it on the low setting. Use a small amount of foam carpet cleaner or foam from Woolite and water. Rinse. Let it dry out of sunlight. Vacuum again. Do not soak the bear in water. The stuffing will be ruined.
Terry Kovel’s column is syndicated by King Features. Write to: Kovels, (Las Vegas Review-Journal), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.