German company turns Uncle Sam into beer stein

Farm Forum

Uncle Sam seems very happy, perhaps because he is 102 years old this year. Or perhaps because his likeness has been used on a beer stein. How did he become famous? The initials “U.S.” were put on barrels of beef sent to the U.S. military during the War of 1812. Soldiers said the barrels’ U.S. mark stood for “Uncle Sam.” A newspaper reporter thought that was an interesting story and soon Uncle Sam became the nickname for the entire United States. But the picture of Uncle Sam as he looks today was not used until the 1860s, when Thomas Nast, the political cartoonist, created a man with a white beard and stars-and-stripes clothing. A beer stein that looks like that Uncle Sam was made by Schierholz Porcelain of Plaue, Germany, in about 1890. The company, started in 1818, has undergone many changes in ownership and names, but it’s still working. The Uncle Sam stein is rare – only a few colored examples are known. Several porcelain reproductions were made from 1986 to 1995, some multicolored and some with allover “honey” glaze. A more recent reproduction is made of pottery. In 2014, a colorful Schierholz Uncle Sam stein sold for $5,040 at Fox Auctions in Vallejo, Calif.

Q I’m 85 years old. After Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, I started collecting and selling scrap iron. Using that money, I bought a $25 U.S. war bond dated Dec. 23, 1942. I never cashed it and still have it. Is it worth more as a collectible than it does as a bond?

A If the bond has your name on it, you or your heirs are the only ones who can redeem it. You paid $18.75 for your $25 bond in 1942. It stopped accruing interest in 1982, but over 40 years it earned $81.20 in interest. So today it’s worth $99.95. A collector would not pay anywhere near that price for the bond. If you like the way it looks, scan it in color and frame the image. Then go ahead and cash the bond.

Q My father was stationed at Schweinfurt, Germany, at the end of World War II. He didn’t smoke, so he used his ration of cigarettes to trade with locals for various items. One of these was a series of 15 drawings, 15 by 19 inches, of workers doing various tasks at the Schweinfurt Ball Bearing factory. The drawings were done in 1934 and 1935 and are in a linen presentation case with the letters “SFK” above “F&S” in a circle in the upper left corner of the cover. Since the Allied bombers heavily bombed Schweinfurt during the war, I have no idea if very many of these drawings still exist. What would be the approximate value of this set of drawings?

A Most of the ball bearings used by Germany’s Nazi forces were made in the city of Schweinfurt in 1939. The Allied bombing raids in 1943 were conducted in an effort to destroy Germany’s ability to produce airplane parts. “SKF” stands for Schwedische Kugellagerfabriken, a Swedish company that had a division in Germany that made ball bearings. “F & S” stands for Fichtel & Sachs, another major ball-bearing manufacturer. Drawings of working factories sell well today. The price would be determined mainly by the fame of the artist.

Q I bought a vase at a thrift store for $2. It’s metal, has a raised tree design and is marked “McClelland Barclay” on the bottom. I learned he was an illustrator, but found no information about his metalwork. Can you help?

A McClelland Barclay (1891-1942) worked in New York City as a commercial artist and magazine illustrator. He was a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago and famous for his war posters, Saturday Evening Post “girls” and Ladies Home Journal covers. He designed jewelry for the Rice-Weiner Co. from 1939 to 1943. He also designed household accessories, such as metal bowls, bookends, vases, ashtrays, desk sets and lamps, all signed with his name. Barclay was a U.S. Navy officer during World War II. He died when his ship was torpedoed near the Solomon Islands. Your vase is worth about $175.

Q I have a pair of antique Bohlin chaps. They say “Made in Hollywood, California.” They have stainless-steel conchas and buckles on them. They were owned by my grandmother, who claimed they originally belonged to Roy Rogers. Are they of any value?

A Emil Helge Bohlin (1895-1980) was a Swedish immigrant who came to the United States in 1912. By 1916 he was working with a blacksmith in Cody, Wyoming, making buckles, bits and spurs. In 1920 he opened a shop and made leather goods as well as buckle sets. He moved to Hollywood in the early 1920s and opened Hollywood Novelty and Leather Shop, where he made silver and leather goods. The business was renamed Edward H. Bohlin, Inc., by 1926, and he started marking his pieces, “Bohlinmade, Hollywood, California.” Many Hollywood stars, including Roy Rogers, bought silver and leather goods from Bohlin. Bohlin’s company, still in business, is now in Los Angeles. Bohlin chaps have sold at auction recently for prices ranging from under $500 for a simple pair with no decoration to over $2,000. More elaborate pairs sell for much more. So would a pair once owned by Roy Rogers – but you would have to prove it.

Tip: Avoid hanging your sports pennants in direct sunlight. They fade rapidly. Even indirect sunlight can fade felt. Display pennants in frames under UV glass. Avoid thumbtacks, which leave rusty holes.

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