Windmills inspire collectibles

Problems involving floods, lack of power and failing levees are not new. Holland has faced all of them for centuries.

Originally, the land that’s Holland today was a marsh, but through the years people have learned how to dig canals, build dikes and use wind power to pump water. Windmills can be seen in 17th-century Dutch paintings, but windmills were in use before then. The wind turned the blades, creating power to lift water in buckets or turn a wheel to grind corn.

The picturesque Dutch windmill has often been the inspiration for collectible salt and pepper shakers, toys, plates, fabric patterns and more. A tin sand toy shaped like a windmill sold recently online. It is tin with a design showing the windmill’s doors, windows and balconies. A group of men, women and children in traditional Dutch clothes, including wooden shoes, are walking in front. The name “Mac Dutch Mill” is printed on the front. Dump sand into the funnel at the top of the toy and the windmill’s arms turn. It sold for $250.

Q: I saw a picture of a wooden Arts and Crafts foldout bar in an antiques newspaper. The picture caption said that a lot of people used to think that Charles Rohlfs made the bar, but that it was actually made by Jamestown Lounge Co. How do we know that’s true?

A: Let’s assume the foldout bar is not marked with a maker’s name. That would be too easy. The bar is not uncommon — we have seen too many examples at shows and online. That gives researchers reason to believe that Rohlfs didn’t make it. Charles Rohlfs (1853-1936) was a respected cabinetmaker in Buffalo, N.Y. But many of his pieces were one-of-a-kind, and the rest were one of very few.

Another clue is the construction methods used on the foldout bar. It’s simply not made well enough to be the work of Rohlfs. Who did make it? That’s a different problem. Experts agree that a furniture company in Jamestown, N.Y., made the bar, but they don’t agree on which Jamestown company made it. Some sources say it was the Jamestown Lounge Co., which was in business from 1888 to 1963. Others say it was the Jamestown Furniture Co., founded in 1893.

Whichever company it was, it appears that craftsmen there made a serious effort to copy Rohlfs’ Arts and Crafts work. Today the bar sells for about $1,500. If Rohlfs had made it, it would sell for many times that.

Q: I have a mid-19th-century doll with a cloth body and porcelain head and limbs. Her body is original, and so is the doll’s clothing. But sawdust leaks from the doll’s torso whenever she’s moved. Should I have her repaired? If so, how do I find a reputable doll hospital?

A: Your doll’s body is deteriorating, and there’s nothing you can do about it except get her repaired. A professional restorer could re-cover the original cloth body, replace the current covering or replace the whole body.

We list doll hospitals on our Web site,, but if you want to find one in your area, look in your phone book’s Yellow Pages. Ask for references.

Before you go, take a photo of your doll and store the photo at home. Once the doll leaves your hands, it’s easy to forget what she looked like. When you’re at the doll hospital, write down exactly what you want the restorer to do and get an estimate of charges and a receipt. Be sure to leave your contact information.

A temporary repair can be done by spreading white glue on the fabric to seal the leak.

Q: I picked up a Welch’s Howdy Doody jelly glass set at an estate sale. It has a 1953 copyright on it, but someone told me the glasses were made in the 1990s. Is that true?

A: While it’s possible someone has reproduced old Howdy Doody glasses, we haven’t heard about it. Welch’s packaged jelly in Howdy Doody glasses only in the early 1950s. There were two different sets of Welch’s glasses, each set with six glasses. Your set, with the 1953 copyright date, features glasses with musical notes and lyrics around the rim and some of the TV show’s characters on the body.

One glass in excellent condition sells today for about $25.

Ralph and Terry Kovel’s column is syndicated by King Features. Write to: Kovels, (Las Vegas Review-Journal), King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.

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