Newsboys used toy wagons to haul newspapers in 1800s, early 1900s

Tim Kovel and Kerry Kovel
Kovel's Antiques and Collecting
This stenciled wooden wagon with removable side panels from the early 1900s sold at a Cowan auction for $160.

Toy wagons, those that are large enough to give rides to children or to haul packages of newspapers for a newsboy, were first made in the 1880s in the United States. Most were made of wood that was painted red. Newspapers were sold to newsboys by the bundle. The boys kept them in a wagon and moved around the city, shouting the headlines to sell the papers. Most of the boys were homeless and this is how they earned a living. 

In 1899, the newspaper owners raised the price of 10 papers sold to the newsboys from 5 cents to 6 cents. It started the famous newsboy strike that tied up traffic and caused fighting in the city. The boys eventually won the strike and a better price. 

The newsboy wagons were usually made of painted wood with the name of the newspaper on the side. Some, like this one, had built up sides that could be removed. The type of wheel on the wagon helps to date it. Early wheels were metal with a rubber rim. Later wheels were rubber. 

Another clue to the age of the pictured wagon is the name of the paper. The paper was started in 1883, destroyed by fire and started again in 1900. William Randolph Hearst bought it in 1921, around the time the paper's name was changed to "Detroit Times." It closed in 1960.

The most famous toy wagon was manufactured by Antonio Pasin in 1917 in Chicago. He made the Liberty Coaster in 1921 and the famous red Radio Flyer in 1927. His company became the largest wagon maker in the country. The wagon at the Cowan auction sold for $160. 

July 4:Current prices

Question: I inherited what my family calls "the lobster dish." It originally belonged to my grandmother, who died in 1969. It's a divided dish with a large gold-color figural lobster in the middle. The dish is 15 inches by 11 inches and is in excellent condition with only slight wear on the lobster body. It's marked with a birdlike creature above the letters "C.T." Below that, it's stamped "Germany." My grandmother was a plate collector and cherished this piece. Can you give me any information and value that I can pass on to my granddaughter? 

Answer: The lobster dish was a popular shape from the 1880s to early 1900s, and variations were made by several companies. Your lobster dish was made by C. Tielsch Porcelain Factory, founded by Carl Tielsch in Altwasser, Silesia, Germany (now Walbrzych, Poland), in 1845. It merged with C.M. Hutschenreuther in Hohenberg, Germany, in 1918, but the name "C. Tielsch" continued to be used. This mark was used from about 1887 to about 1934. Selling price is roughly $150 to $200. 

Q: My mother was a small reseller of, among other things, head vases. We recently discovered, to our surprise, that she actually had quite an extensive inventory. What we thought was a collection of about 20 to 30 head vases has turned out to be more than 250. How would we go about locating someone interested in buying the lot of brand new in-the-box Cameo Girls head vases?

A: Lady head vases were a fad in the 1960s and '70s. United Design Corporation made many of them. The company was founded in 1973 by Gary and Jeanie Clinton, who started with a single kiln in a backyard chicken coop. They quickly found their niche in clay figures, and the business grew from neighborhood sales to nationwide distribution. It closed in 2004. Cameo Girls head vases sell from $30 to $200, with most in the $50 range. You could sell your mother's collection on Etsy and other online retailers, or you might find an auction gallery that would like to sell a collection of 250. For the best advice for selling collections, you can go to and click on the "How to Buy or Sell" tab. 

Q: I have a modest collection of Anri bottle stoppers, bookends, figures, letter openers, mugs, tie racks and other wooden objects they produced. I'd like to know the current value of Anri items.  

A: Anri was in business in St. Christina, Italy, by 1912. The company was founded by Anton Riffeser. The name of the company is a combination of the first two letters of his first and last names. Several artists and woodcarvers worked at the company. After World War II, the quality of the carving and painting declined. Anri stopped making bottle stoppers, corkscrews and other bar accessories in 1976, but wooden figures continued to be made. The company is now closed, and no new figures are being made. Anri items sell on many websites. Some sell for $10 or less, some for $50 or more. You can get an idea of value by checking several websites to see what items like yours have sold for. Be sure to look for sold prices, not just asking prices. Some recent prices were $10 for a bottle stopper, $53 for a happy birthday music box, $79 for a figurine of a couple reading the newspaper and $250 for dog bookends. 

TIP: Rust stains on clothing or textiles from old hooks and eyes or pins may come out with lemon juice.

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