Grace Drayton, designer of the ‘Campbell Kids’

BY TERRY AND KIM KOVEL Kovels’ Antiques and Collecting
Farm Forum

The googly eyes announce that the designer of the dolls was Grace Drayton (1887-1936), a talented artist. Her maiden name was Grace Gebbie. She married Theodore Wiederseim in 1900, and they divorced in 1911 — the same year she married William Drayton. She divorced Grayton in 1923, but kept his name. She illustrated children’s books, ads, magazine covers, comics like “Dolly Dingle” or “Dolly Drake,” and later music boxes, limited-edition plates, valentines and paper dolls. The best-known art of her career are the “Campbell Kids.” She drew the pictures for the ads for many years. The googly-eyed children were used for doorstops, valentines and other projects. These four pictured dolls are all dressed up for a formal party, probably a wedding in the family. They were made in about 1916, and were created using hard composition, swivel heads, sculpted hair and jointed arms by Ideal Toy Co. The set sold for $6,880 at a Theriault auction in Indianapolis.

Q Could my silver clown pin with enamel decoration really be made by Tiffany & Co.? That is what it says on the back, and I saw a similar pin in an auction ad recently.

A Yes. Tiffany & Co. made a series of pins as part of the Gene Moore Circus group about 1990. The juggling clown with polka-dot pants recently sold for $976 at a New York auction. They have come down in price since 2000.

Q What is the corner block on a chair? I took a dining-room chair to have the slip seat to reupholstered, and they said two corner blocks were missing.

A Most dining-room chairs made in the late 19th century and later have corner blocks holding the seat in place. The blocks are used inside the seat frame to keep the four sides of the seat in position. Pieces of wood cut to fit into the corners of the seat or a single narrow piece of wood positioned between two adjoining sides of the seat act as braces. Each is attached with a screw or glue. Twentieth-century chairs often had a sheet of plywood covering the bottom. Earlier chairs used mortise and tenon construction.

Q How old are glass telephone insulators? Which came first, glass or pottery? I just started collecting insulators because I found a pile of them buried near a pole on a farm.

A Glass insulators were first made in the U.S. in the 1840s to be used with the new telegraph lines. They were what collectors call “bureau knob” insulators because they look like the wooden drawer pulls. Most had no inside threads. They literally insulated the lines, especially in the rain. Threaded insulators were patented about 1865 to 1875. The last glass insulators were made in the 1970s by Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corp., the company that makes Kerr canning jars. Pottery insulators were made from the 1850s. Porcelain became popular about 1915. Some early insulators were made of gutta-percha, rubber, wood or composite, but glass was the most popular. If you plan to collect them, you should know that the embossing on the insulator identifies the shape, maker and other things. There is a collector’s code for shape. “CD” stands for Consolidated Design. And each shape has a number added to the letters. The system was started in the 1950s. New numbers are added by a selected expert. Porcelain numbers th at start with “U” are unipart insulators, while “M” numbers are for multi-part insulators. To learn more, join the National Insulator Association, go to the shows and look up history online.

Q I bought a poster of dogs playing poker about 30 years ago and would like to know if it has any value. It shows seven dogs sitting around a table playing poker. One dog is passing a card under the table to the dog next to him. There are no names on the poster. Is it worth anything?

A The picture on your poster is called “A Friend in Need,” part of a series of sixteen anthropomorphic dog paintings by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1844-1934) and published by Brown & Bigelow, a company in St. Paul, Minn. They were commissioned for a 1903 advertising campaign for cigars. Nine of the paintings pictured dogs in a poker game, and collectors often call the paintings “Dogs Playing Poker.” The paintings were reproduced on posters, prints, calendars and other items. This painting of the two dogs cheating at poker is the most popular in the series. An original painting would sell for a lot of money, but prints are common and can sell for $10 or less. A pair of the paintings sold at auction for over $590,000 a few years ago.

Tip: Do not mount old maps, prints, etc., on cardboard. The acid in the cardboard causes stains. Use an all-rag board. An art store can help.

By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel forum. For return of a photograph, include a stamped envelope. Write to Kovel, Farm Forum, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

If these dolls look familiar, it’s because they were restored by the artist who made similar children for Campbell Soup ads. The set sold for $6,880. Cowles Syndicate