Charisma, racing record made horse a celebrity

History becomes more interesting if you learn about it through objects and stories. It’s the “rest of the story” that adds to the fun.

A large pail that once held Dan Patch Roasted Coffee auctioned recently for $2,035. The bright-red can features a horse and rider in a harness race. The can is colorful, 11½ inches tall and very decorative, but the price was boosted by the history it represents.

Dan Patch was a brown horse, a pacer, born in Indiana in 1896. He broke the world’s record for a harness race in 1906, and it took 32 years for another horse to go faster. He never lost a race.

He was a celebrity, and coffee wasn’t the only product named for him. Cars and washing machines and cigars bore his name, and so did popular toys.

Crowds followed his appearances and as many as 100,000 people went to see the horse, which, according to reports, “radiated charisma.” Dan Patch received fan mail and gifts while making as much as $1 million in a year.

He retired from racing in 1909 and died in 1916. He remained a star for many years after his death, partly because his world record was not broken until 1938.

Streets named Dan Patch still exist. An annual Dan Patch Day festival is celebrated in his hometown of Oxford, Ind., and another annual Dan Patch Day is held in Savage, Minn., where Dan Patch Stadium is at a high school, and where the horse lived after he was purchased by a Minnesotan in 1902.

Books have been written about him, a movie was made about his life in 1949 and he’s mentioned in a song from the 1957 Broadway musical, “The Music Man.”

But Dan Patch Ground Coffee was named for the horse well before the days of movies and television. You can still find Dan Patch memorabilia in Savage, Minn., today.

Go to the Savage Depot Coffee Shop, the Razors Edge Barber Shop or the local library.

Q: I inherited two antique Mettlach steins that were appraised six years ago for $1,700 each. I have been trying to sell them online and locally for less than that, but I have gotten no takers. Some dealers have made insulting remarks about my pricing. What’s going on?

A: Some Mettlach steins in mint condition can sell for $1,700 or even more, but many sell for a lot less. Price depends on the rarity of a particular stein.

In addition, you’re dealing with a niche market and may not be reaching interested buyers. Try contacting a national auction house that focuses on steins. You will find several online.

Q: My grandmother, who was born in 1886, left her favorite rocking chair to me. She lived in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and the chair is labeled “Webster Mfg. Co., Superior, Wis.” The chair is oak and has a pressed design in the back’s crest above six turned spindles. What can you tell me?

A: Webster Manufacturing Co. of Superior, Wis., was making chairs by the 1890s. In its early years, it was called the Webster Chair Co. By 1915 it was a major American chair manufacturer and had opened a factory in at least one other city. It appears to have gone out of business during the Depression.

Pressed oak chairs like yours were especially popular in the late 19th century, so it is likely your chair dates from that period. Depending on its condition, it would sell for $100 or more.

Q: I have a kerosene lamp marked “Queen Anne” and “Scovill Mfg. Co.” I know it’s about 100 years old. Can you give me some information about it?

A: Scovill Manufacturing Co. opened in 1802 in Waterbury, Conn., under the name Abel Porter & Co. It made brass buttons and operated under various names and owners through the years. James Mitchell Lamson Scovill and William H. Scovill eventually took over the business, which was incorporated as Scovill Manufacturing Co. in 1850.

Scovill made brass lamps, artillery fuses, munitions, medals, daguerreotype plates, cameras and other items. After 1866 it also made coin blanks for the U.S. Mint. Scovill holds several patents for improvements to lamp burners.

“Queen Anne” is a type of burner that was in common use in the late 1800s. It was made by Scovill and other companies. New Queen Anne burners are available today for repair and restoration of old lamps.

Scovill is still in business, with headquarters in Clarkesville, Ga. Today the company makes fasteners for clothing and light industrial use and holds a patent for the gripper snap, introduced in the 1930s.

Your lamp was probably made in the late 1800s. If all parts are original, it is worth about $100 to $150.

Q: I have an item called a “motion teaser.” It includes five heavy silver balls about an inch in diameter. Each is attached to a string and the strings are attached to a wooden frame. You swing one ball so it touches the next one and then they all swing back and forth. However, it stops in about a minute. Aren’t they supposed to keep swinging back and forth by themselves?

Every once in a while, I see one of these in an old movie and the balls keep swinging back and forth indefinitely. Am I doing something wrong? I don’t see what the big deal is if you have to start it every other minute. Someone gave me this. I think this it’s from the 1970s or ’80s.

A: Your toy was invented in 1967 by Simon Prebble, an English actor, and is known as “Newton’s Cradle” because it demonstrates one of Isaac Newton’s laws of motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you pull the first ball back and release it so that it swings and hits the row of balls, the energy is transferred through the line of balls to the ball on the other end, causing it to swing out at approximately the same distance and back to hit the stationary balls. If you pull two balls out, two balls will swing out from the opposite end.

It’s not a perpetual motion machine, because some momentum and energy are lost with each hit because of friction. The length of time it will keep going is based partly on how well it’s built.

Toys like this were made under several names and in different sizes. They always have an odd number of balls, usually five or seven. Someone has even made Newton’s Cradle using 15-pound bowling balls hung from 20-foot cables.

Tip: An unglazed rim on the bottom of a plate usually indicates it was made before 1850.

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.

Life Videos
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Army medic’s Afghanistan story told in new book
The graphic novel “Machete Squad” is based on journals written by Las Vegan Brent Dulak.
Las Vegas man talks about losing his wife
Dwayne Murray, 37, lost his wife, LaQuinta while she was at Centennial Hills Hospital. A jury awarded him $43 million last week after it said the hospital failed to perform the standard of care in administering a drug for her sickle cell disease.
Barber sets up shop in grandfather’s old shop
Andres Dominguez’s new barber shop is filled with memories of his grandfather, who ran the El Cortez landmark for more than 30 years. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life and times of a 90-year-old horse player
Leo Polito of Las Vegas describes meeting legendary jockey and trainer Johnny Longden on the beach at Del Mar. Mike Brunker/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Learning the history of singing bowls
Presentation at Summerlin Library teaches residents about the history of singing bowls (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vicki Richardson speaks about on the power of art
Artist and arts advocate Vicki Richardson talks about the power of art to inspire and challenge. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DressCoders pairs tech with haute couture
DressCoders is a startup focused on haute couture garments. The company uses illuminated thread that is washable and can be sewn right into the fabric. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Brava infrared oven
In cooking with the Brava infrared oven,there’s no preheating. the bulbs can reach 500 degrees in less than a second. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sinks Merge Style And Utility
Study could determine cause of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, discusses his research on how inflammation in the brain impacts Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holocaust survivors talk about tragedy and friendship
Janos Strauss and Alexander Kuechel share their perspectives on life. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Siegel Cares' Santa delivers toys to kids at Siegel Suites in Las Vegas
Siegel Cares, the charitable wing of The Siegel Group, delivered toys to families at their apartment complexes in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing