Did you know Abercrombie & Fitch made line dryers for fishing lines? Did you know there was even a need to dry your fishing line? At a recent auction by Lang's Sporting Collectibles, which specializes in fishing items, a wooden line dryer sold for $590.
David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch became partners in a New York City sporting goods store in 1900. Their store had large displays of camp scenes that included camping equipment, a casting pool to let fishermen test gear and a rifle range for hunters.
One item for fishermen was a fish line dryer. After a day at the lake, fishing line should be wound on a large, airy reel so it can dry before the next excursion. It should not be wound on your hand because it might kink and later snarl. Many of the dryers look like storage holders for clotheslines to someone who doesn't use a rod and reel.
Collectors interested in fishing look for old rods, reels, creels, lures, tackle boxes, fish decoys and line dryers.
Q: A friend of mine in Turkey shipped me an antique ceramic heating stove because he's sure it's American. Sure enough, the plaque on the back says, "Rathbone, Sard & Co., Albany, Chicago & Detroit, Pat.: May 26, 1891." I don't know how the stove ended up in Turkey, but ceramic stoves are quite common there. Can you give me any information about the maker?
A: George Sard started working for Rathbone & Co., an Albany, N.Y., stove manufacturer, in 1860. He was just 17 years old. Eight years later he was offered a partnership in the company, which was renamed Rathbone, Sard & Co. in 1873. It went out of business in 1930.
The patent date on your stove refers to a U.S. Design Patent issued May 26, 1891, for the design of the outside of your stove. So your stove was made in the 1890s or the early 1900s.
Q: I bought an oak buffet from a neighbor who moved out of state. The label in the back of one of the drawers pictures two Windsor chairs and says, "Windsor Chair Shop, The Owen Sound Chair Co., Ltd., Owen Sound." The bottom corner of the label is torn off. Any idea where this company was?
A: There's a town in Ontario, Canada, called Owen Sound. Your label was missing "Ont.," the abbreviation for Ontario. The Owen Sound Chair Co. was in business from 1912 until about 1937. It manufactured dining room sets, living room suites, office furniture and Windsor chairs.
Q: While cleaning out our basement, we came across a large porcelain figurine my grandmother gave us years ago. I know she bought it in Europe during her travels, but I would like you to identify the mark. It's a crown with the words "Turn Wien," "Ernst Wahlis" and "Made in Austria."
A: Ernst Wahlis owned retail stores that sold Bohemian porcelain in London and Vienna ("Wien" in German) in the late 1800s. In 1894 he purchased the Alfred Stellmacher porcelain factory in Turn, Bohemia (now Trnovany, Czech Republic). The factory manufactured porcelain and marked it with Wahlis's name.
The mark you describe was used from about 1897 to 1906. The factory closed in 1934.
Q: I have a large collection of Dixie Cup lids and premiums from the mid-1930s to the 1950s. Does anyone else collect them?
A: Sure. A few years ago, a collection of 760 Dixie Cup premiums auctioned for just under $8,000. The lids and premiums you're referring to relate to Dixie Cup ice cream cups, not the paper drinking cups introduced in the early 1900s by Lawrence Luellen of Boston.
The disposable cups were named "Dixie" in 1919, and four years later it became the corporation's name. Then came the introduction of little paper ice cream containers with patented pull-off lids. To help market the new product, Dixie printed pictures on the inside of the lids. From 1930 to 1954, lids featured pictures of movie stars, sports heroes, animals, cowboys, etc. Customers could save the lids or mail 12 of them in for a premium, a larger photo of a real or fictional celebrity.
Today, a Flash Gordon premium photo sells for about $200 and a Roy Rogers for $100. Price depends not just on the fame of the star, but also the rarity and condition of the photo.
Q: I saw a bronze bust at a yard sale a couple of years ago that looked just like my Uncle Norm, so I bought it for a couple of dollars. I use the bust ("Uncle Norm") to hold my bedroom door open. It's very heavy and is signed "A. Rodin" on the back. Under the head it says, "Alexis Rudier Fon Paris." What is it worth?
A: Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was a well-known French sculptor. Many of his bronze sculptures were cast by Alexis Rudier, who had a foundry in Paris.
A French forger, Guy Hain, used many of the original molds from Rudier to reproduce works by Rodin and other sculptors. These were marked with Rudier's name without his consent. Hain sold the bronzes as originals to unsuspecting art dealers. Hain was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to four years in jail. After his release he again made bronzes marked with Rudier's name. He was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to five more years. Hain made thousands of copies of works by Rodin and other sculptors. Yours probably is one of the copies.
Q: I have a sculpture of the goddess Minerva by Oswald Schimmelpfennig. Who's he?
A: Oswald Schimmelpfennig (1872-c. 1944) was a freelance artist and sculptor who did work for Gladenbeck, a foundry in Berlin, Germany. He worked from the 1890s until at least 1933. Schimmelpfennig made statues of carved marble as well as bronze. Many of his works were political.
Tip: For your health and the well-being of your collection, do not smoke. Nicotine stains fabrics, pictures and wood.
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.