Coin-operated scales were used to check weight in the 1920s, 30s

Tim Kovel and Kerry Kovel
Cowles Syndicate
Scales to weigh pedestrians were not available in public places until the 1890s. This scale was made of iron and porcelain by Peerless Weighing Machine Company. It sold at a Cowan auction for $344.

Most of us diet and check our weight, but the days of tall scales sitting on a street corner waiting for someone to put a penny in the slot and step on the scale are almost gone. 

It was during the 1920s and '30s that coin-operated scales were important. The first coin scales were made in Germany in 1885, and by 1889, the National Scale Company was manufacturing in the United States. In 1929, Peerless Scale Company, the largest in the U.S., was worth over $50 million (much more if you think in terms of 2021 dollars). 

The pennies were enough. A scale in a good location earned about $1,000 a year. By the 1930s, there were new incentives to spend a penny. The scale supplied a ticket with your weight printed on it. The tickets added fortunes, and people collected sets. But the fad didn't last and by the 1940s there were barely a third of the scales still left. The personal bathroom scale had replaced almost all of them. 

Collectors ignored the old scales at first, but by the 1970s there were collectors who bought the Peerless scales and others and especially figural scales like an iron Mr. Peanut. Mr. Peanut scales were created in 1951. There were only 65 ever made — one for each of the Planters Stores. The 1920s Peerless mirrored scale sold for $344 at a recent auction. 

June 18:Current prices

Question: My parents gave me a Lladro figurine of a bride and groom. They got it as a wedding gift in 1989. It is in good condition. Is it valuable? 

Answer: Your figurine is probably the 7 3/4-inch-high Lladro Groom and Bride figurine (No. 4808). It was introduced in 1972 and retired in 2005. While cute, the figurine currently sells well below the original asking price of around $200. You can find it online and in antique shops for about $35-50. 

Q: My grandfather gave me his father's pipe. It has a wooden bowl that screws into the metal base and an aluminum shank. The metal is marked "Yello-Bole" and "Pat. 2467002 Pat. Pend." How old is it and what is its worth? 

A: Yello-Bole pipes were made by The New England Briar Pipe Company, a subsidiary of Kaufmann Bros. & Bondy. Kaufmann Bros. began making pipes in 1851. The Yello-Bole line was introduced in 1932. The pipes were less expensive, made of a lower grade of briar. Briar is used for pipe bowls because it is heat resistant and doesn't give off a strong odor.

Yello-Bole pipes were made in Penacook, New Hampshire. This patent is for a pipe bowl with an inset grate or sieve that could be taken apart to clean or repair. It was applied for in July 1945 and granted in April 1949. Kaufmann Bros. & Bondy was sold in 1951. It has been owned by S.M. Frank & Co. since 1955, and Yello-Bole pipes are still being made. Pipe bowls have been made out of Brylon, a synthetic, instead of briar wood since 1966. Your grandfather's pipe was made between 1945 and 1949. It's worth about $50. New Yello-Bole pipes made of less expensive material sell for $16 to $25. 

Q: My husband found a blue and white ironstone platter in an alley several years ago. I think it was made by the Phoenix Works at Shelton, Hanley, between 1839 and 1864. It has a central scene of castles, trees, a river and a few people, and a wide blue border with white flowers and white trim. The back is marked "Ironstone" above a bird with spread wings. Below that, it reads "UDINA, J. Clementson." The platter is octagonal and is about 14 inches high and 17 1/2 inches wide. Is my information correct and does it have any current value? 

A: Joseph Clementson and Jonah Read founded Read & Clementson at the Phoenix Works in Shelton, Staffordshire, England, in 1832. Read left in 1839, and Clementson continued as J. Clementson. The phoenix bird mark was introduced in the 1840s. The name of the pottery became Clementson Bros. in 1865 and his sons and son-in-law continued the business until 1916. "Udina" is the name of the pattern on your platter. It was made in more than one size. A large Udina platter, 18 inches by 14 inches, sold for $135 recently. 

Q: I have a full bottle of Corby's Park Lane Canadian Whisky. The seal is intact and has "1942" printed on it. I also have the original box and hard container for it. I know it is old, as it was in my aunt's liquor cabinet for many years. Is there any collector value to this? If I do sell it, can I legally ship it to the buyer? 

A: The value is in the collectible container and its packaging, not its contents. It is likely a special decanter bottle, probably a Christmas special, which makes it more collectible than a regular decanter. Park Lane Canadian Whisky has been discontinued. Laws vary from state to state on selling whiskey. But you could sell an empty bottle and box. 

TIP: Put the silica packets that come in shoeboxes, handbags and with some prescription pills in the storage containers that hold your out-of-season clothes. The packets keep moisture and bugs away.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers' questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallery@kovels.com.