Kewpie is the name of a nude, elflike baby with fat cheeks, wide eyes, a topknot and tiny blue wings. Rose O’Neill drew the first Kewpies for a Ladies’ Home Journal story in 1909. The drawings were turned into 3-D designs for Kewpie dolls and figurines by 1911. They were an immediate success, and several companies made Kewpies and Kewpie-related products.
Dolls were made of bisque, celluloid, composition or hard plastic. There was a whole family of Kewpies, and you can find everything from a policeman to Doodle Dog. All have wings. Many other kewpies can be found, both those designed by Rose O’Neill and those that are kewpielike copies. You can collect related kewpies on plates, coloring books, toys and even food cans.
Kewpie is a major brand of mayonnaise and other foods in Japan, and is also the name of a small U.S. hamburger chain. Kewpies are mascots for several schools, too, and a line of Kewpie cell phone charms was just offered in Japan.
Kewpie dolls are still being made and the word “kewpie” is now part of our language — not just a trademark.
Q: We own a round oak table 38 inches in diameter. It sits on a pedestal with four legs with claw feet. The label on the bottom of the tabletop says, “H.C. Niemann & Co., Makers of Good Tables, 1801-1813 N. Rockwell St., Chicago, Ill., Tables and Leaves.” The table has been in our family for over a century. We’re interested in knowing when the table was made.
A: Henry C. Niemann organized H.C. Niemann & Co. in 1890 to make tables. The company made inexpensive and medium-priced tables of all kinds, including library, extension and kitchen tables.
Your table was made between 1909, when the company moved to the 1800 block of Rockwell Street, and 1929, when it closed. So it’s not quite 100 years old, but it’s close.
Q: I own a wonderful Ludwig Moser cameo glass vase called “African Safari” from Moser’s “Animor” series. It’s in perfect condition. The vase is almost 18 inches tall and is clearly signed “Moser.” Can you tell me what it might sell for?
A: Moser glass has been made by Ludwig Moser and Son since 1857. The company is located in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
The African Safari vases date from the late 1920s into the 1930s. We have seen some decorated with acid cut-back jungle scenes and gilded highlights and others with cameo glass animals and acid-cut highlights.
The size of your vase, its signature (a lot of Moser glass is not signed), condition and decoration make it valuable, possibly worth $5,000 or more.
Q: My snake-shaped silvery pin was sold to me as “silver set with marcasite.” What is marcasite?
A: Marcasite is a mineral like pyrite (“fools gold”), but it has a different crystal structure. It is sometimes called “white iron pyrite.” It is brittle, so pyrite is often used instead. The many-sided natural crystals are cut, polished and set into a metal mount.
Marcasite also refers to jewelry made of pyrite, polished steel, polished onyx or white metal. Some claim that marcasite repels negative energies. It is still used in jewelry today.
Q: About 15 years ago I was out hunting for bottles along the Flint River and found one that’s labeled “MacFuddy Beverages, Buckler Beverage Co., Flint, Michigan.” The bottle pictures a man wearing a Scottish golf hat with a fluff ball on the top. No one I know in Flint remembers either the name MacFuddy or Buckler.
A: You have a soda bottle made in the 1960s. MacFuddy was bottled in Detroit in the 1940s, but by the 1960s, Buckler was bottling it in Flint. The brand appears to have disappeared after that.
Your bottle sells today for about $12.
Ralph and Terry Kovel’s column is syndicated by King Features. Write to: Kovels, (Las Vegas Review-Journal and Sun), King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.