Unusual tobacco cabinet presents puzzle

Farm Forum

“Vernacular Tobacco Cabinet” was the name of this piece in a Nov. 2014 Garth’s auction. It doesn’t seem to be made by a skilled cabinetmaker. Although it looks like two pieces, the back construction shows that it was made to be one piece – a fitted cabinet at the bottom behind the ad and an empty space behind the mirrored door. Few collectors know how it was used. The cabinet is a little over 5 feet high. The ad of Old Judge Cigarettes identifies the probable maker, Goodwin & Co., an American tobacco manufacturer from New York City working before the Civil War. Old Judge was one of its brands. The company merged with others and became part of the American Tobacco Co. Collectors today like their tobacco cards picturing baseball players; one set called “Old Judge,” issued in 1887-1890, was 1 7/16 by 2 1/2 inches. A larger set, called “Old Judge Cabinets,” issued from 1888 to 1889, was 4 1/4 by 6 1/2 inches. The mirrored section of the wooden cabinet seems to be missing some sort of shelf or racks, probably pipe racks. The lower part has cubby holes, drawers and partitions that may have held loose tobacco, a mixing bowl, humidor, pipe cleaners and cards. The ad, showing a convict held in the stocks, dates from about 1900. An unusual piece, it sold for $780.

Q: I inherited my mother’s black Catalin Mah Jong set, which she got in the 1940s. Some of the paint has worn off some of the Jokers and Flowers. What is it worth, and how can I sell it?

A: Mah Jong originated in China, and early sets imported into the U.S. had ivory, bone or bamboo tiles. Catalin, a polymer developed in the 1930s, has the look of ivory at a lower price. Sets made in the 1920s and ’30s didn’t include jokers. Sets made since 1971 include eight jokers and eight flowers. Collectors want sets that have the full set of tiles, in good condition; you can’t buy single tiles to replace lost ones. The backs won’t match. Mah Jong sets often sell online. The value of your set is reduced a little because of the missing paint. A full set in a box sells for $200-$250.

Q: I have a blue-and-white plate with a picture of Paul Revere on it and a border of fruit and flowers. I found it in an old steamer trunk in my grandmother’s attic. I’m over 80 years old, so I think the plate was made about 1800. The back of the plate reads “Ride of Paul Revere Apr. 18, 1775. Staffordshire, England,” and it’s marked “RM CO.” in a diamond shape. How old is it, and what is it worth?

A: This mark was used by Rowland & Marsellus, an importer in business in New York City from 1893 to about 1937. Several factories in Staffordshire, England, made historical blue souvenir plates and other chinaware decorated with American scenes. Historical scenes, important buildings, landmarks, cities and colleges were transfer-printed onto the china. Plates with rolled edges are the most wanted. Rowland & Marsellus used a diamond-shape mark from about 1893 to 1900. Your rolled-edge plate is worth about $55.

Q: I recently acquired an old bottle marked “J. Hindle & Co.” with what looks like a picture of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis on it. What is the history of this, and what is it worth?

A: J. Hindle & Co. (Ltd.) was formed in 1894 as successor to James Hindle of Hull, England. This isn’t the Indianapolis monument, it’s the Wilberforce Monument, located in Hull. The monument was erected in 1834 to honor William Wilberforce, an English politician who worked to abolish the slave trade. J. Hindle & Co. manufactured aerated and mineral water and other beverages, and was listed as an “agent” for other manufacturers. Your bottle is worth $15-$20 or less.

Q: I have an autographed 8-by-10-inch glossy black-and-white photograph of boxer Gene Tunney. It’s in perfect condition and is about 75-80 years old. Does it have any value? If so, where should I try to sell it?

A: The price an autographed picture will bring depend on the fame of the celebrity, rarity and authentication; autographs of many celebrities and sports stars have been faked. American boxer Gene Tunney (1897-1978) was the world heavyweight champion from 1926 to 1928, when he retired from boxing. Autographed pictures of Tunney are fairly common. Some sell for $20 to $40, while some that are declared real by a recognized authentication service sell for over $100. You can sell it to an autograph dealer or at an auction. It’s difficult to sell it online because there are so many fakes.

Q: I own an antique Kodak folding camera with a leather case. There’s a 1910 patent date on it, and it’s also identified as a “No. 1A Autographic Kodak Jr.” Please tell me more about it, including its value.

A: The Eastman Dry Plate Co., founded in 1881, became the Eastman Kodak Co. in 1892. It introduced the No. 1A Autographic Kodak Jr. camera in April 1914 and made 48,000 of the cameras. Today the model sells for about $75.

Tip: Keep heirloom fabrics like quilts, tablecloths or christening gowns away from scented candles, cigarette smoke and cooking smells. They all cause damage.

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