Advertisement for popular winter breakfast cereal evokes sentimental value

Tim Kovel and Kerry Kovel
Cowles Syndicate
This early cardboard Cream of Wheat trolley car sign auctioned online at AntiqueAdvertising.com for $200.

Cream of Wheat, a cereal first marketed in 1898, is still a popular winter breakfast cereal. A trolley sign in a recent auction showed the picture of a box of Cream of Wheat and two children eating it from a bowl. The sign read, "Summer Favorite Served Cold with Fruit." Was Cream of Wheat originally served cold? Most advertising, even today, promotes the use of the hot, cooked cereal for a winter breakfast. 

Other popular cooked cereals — oatmeal, cornmeal, Ralston, Maltex, Farina and Wheatena — are like Cream of Wheat in that they could be eaten cold but are always advertised as hot cereals. When cold, some get hard and lumpy, but all could be a breakfast cereal, especially if fresh fruit is added. We searched the Internet and cookbooks and not one suggested that cold Cream of Wheat might be served at breakfast. Did the company have an advertising campaign that promoted it? 

This sign could have been part of the advertising. The box is one used in the 1930s, though the clothes seem more like the 1940s. The trolley sign is 12 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches, made of cardboard or heavy paper, and in good condition. Someone is bound to buy it just for the memories of the cold, lumpy breakfast. Or maybe with a lot of maple syrup or bacon, it was a favorite cold breakfast.

June 27:Current prices

Question: I'd like information about a Japanese woodblock print that's been in my family for over 80 years. It's 12 inches high, 8 inches wide and came with information that says it's called "Tatami-Shi" (Mat Maker). It's by Mitsuoki Tosa and part of a set of pictures called "A Collection of Pictures of Artisans." Can you tell me how old this is? 

Answer: Mitsuoki Tosa was a Japanese painter who lived from 1617 to 1691. (Japanese names are often listed last name first, so Mitsuoki Tosa is often written as Tosa Mitsuoki.) He reintroduced the classical Japanese style of painting known as Yamato-e. Your print is a reproduction of one of his paintings, which was included in the series depicting artisans working in old, traditional ways. Although the painting of the Mat Maker was done in the 1600s, the woodblock print was probably made in the 1920s. It has been reproduced many times and can be found on prints, posters and greeting cards. The 1920s prints sell for about $60. Modern copies are available for $35. 

Q: I have a cane with a brass handle in the shape of a horse's head. The head unscrews to reveal space for a small flask sealed with a cork. The shaft of the cane unscrews into three sections. What is the potential value? 

A: Canes weren't only used as an aid to walking but were also popular fashion accessories in the 1700s to the early 1900s. Canes with special features or those that conceal items are called gadget canes. They were made for both men and women. Canes have been made that conceal flasks, cameras, drugs, fans, guns, lighters, maps, perfume bottles, pool cues, sewing kits, snuff, surgical instruments, swords, telescopes, tools and other items. The material of the head, any special features and condition determine price. Some gadget canes sell for several hundred dollars, some for less than $50. Horse's head gadget canes with concealed flasks sold recently for $40 to $90. 

Q: We're cleaning out our mom's house and trying to decide what to sell, what to donate, and what to pitch. How can we determine the value of things? 

A: Values have changed in the past 20 years. Figurines are hard to sell, 1950s furniture is easy. Look online to get an idea of what is selling. Go to Kovels.com. It has a million past prices and information about prices, auction house names, collector groups, events and more, organized to make searches easy. 

Q: We have a teapot marked "Arthur Wood & Son, Staffordshire, England, Est. 1884, 6304." It's 5 3/4 inches high and 9 1/4 inches wide from handle to spout. There are roses in shades of red and pink on the front and smaller roses on the back, a rose on the spout and one on the lid. We're senior citizens, computer-free, with no smartphone. We'd like to find out what this teapot is worth before we put it out for a garage sale. 

A: The company known as Arthur Wood & Son began operating under that name in 1928. It traces its beginnings to 1884, when Arthur Wood joined with Alfred and William Capper to found Capper and Company. The partnership dissolved in 1893, and Alfred Capper and Arthur Wood continued to work together until 1904, when Arthur Wood became sole owner. His son joined the business in 1924, and it became Arthur Wood & Son four years later. The company was sold in 1989 and sold again in 2003. It is no longer in business. Arthur Wood & Son is known for its teapots. Each teapot has a four-digit pattern number. Teapots with pattern number 6304, with colorful roses, were made in several sizes and shapes. They sell for $45 to $65. 

TIP: An original stained clock dial is more valuable than a new repainted dial.

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.