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Antiques and Collecting: The art of advertising

This Hires tin sign, 21 x 15 inches, was originally made without a frame. It sold recently at a Morphy auction for $960.
This Hires tin sign, 21 x 15 inches, was originally made without a frame. It sold recently at a Morphy auction for $960.

Advertising art is very popular today and prices keep rising. Collectors want old examples with good graphics, recognized products and great condition. A small amount of restoration is OK.

Anything that mentions a product for sale is considered “advertising,” even labels on bottles and cans. Most companies keep the look of their ads the same for many years.

Hires Root Beer used a small child in a bib and a distinctive type-style for the word Hires. In 1915, they used the googly-eyed man called Josh Slinger, the soda jerk. He was indeed googly-eyed. But most of Hires ads had few pictures, just descriptions of its health values or the good shape.

A tin sign, probably made in the 1920s, featured an attractive flapper girl. She is enjoying a glass of Hires Root Beer. If you look closely, you can read the tiny word “good” before the slogan, “and it's always pure. Hires in bottles.”

Hires was developed by pharmacist Charles Hires in 1876, but root beer was already a known drink. He improved the taste of a health drink that was made with many herbs including sassafras oil, a plant root extract.

In 1960, sassafras was banned because it contained a carcinogen. Later, they found a way to remove the harmful chemical and still preserve the flavor, so it was still used.

Hires Root Beer was a leading drink, but the company has been bought and sold so often, the drink is now almost out of production.

Old Hires advertising is hard to find today, but beware of the pottery mug with a baby wearing a bib. Reproductions are easy to find.

I sold Avon during the 1960s and 1970s, and I have a large collection. I'm downsizing and wonder if anyone would be interested before I throw them out.

Avon started as the California Perfume Co., founded by David H. McConnell in 1886. The name Avon was used beginning in 1929.

Collecting Avon bottles became popular in the 1960s, and at one time there were more than 60 Avon collector clubs in the United States. Interest has waned and most of the clubs are gone, but you can still find people selling vintage Avon bottles that held beauty products. Some are crossover collectibles, especially figural bottles, so you might find someone interested in your collection by contacting online sellers.

Most Avon collectibles sell for under $10. A few that are shaped like cars are about $25.

Current Prices

Sandwich press, rectangular, square side handles and front top handle, flat plates, footed, 1930s, $10.

Garden table, rectangular glass top, scrolling concrete bases, iron mounts, 80 x 46 inches, $120.

Vase, Celadon, bottle shape, lobed, cranes, 10 x 4 inches, $300.

Apache, basket, coiled, stepped geometric pattern, checkerboard pattern, central circle, 15 inches, $640.

Tip: Don't wear jewelry when gardening, playing sports or working with tools. You may damage a stone or lose it. Even diamonds can chip or crack.

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. 2020 King Features Synd., Inc.

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