March 07, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: Antique toys fetch a pretty penny

Children’s toys are valuable records of what life was like in the past. From about 1880 to 1914, inexpensive, mechanical lithographed tin toys known as “penny toys” were popular and affordable in America.

A toy rickshaw with a driver and a lady in a small cart was made by George Fischer of Nuremberg, Germany, in the early 1900s. The company made many different penny toys, all based on the life of the times. His trademark on most toys was “G.F.” in capital letters.

But was there really a rickshaw powered by a man riding a bicycle? Yes. It is thought that the first rickshaw was invented about 1869 by an American missionary to Japan who used it to transport his invalid wife.

The idea became popular, and by 1872 there were about 40,000 rickshaws in use in Japan. There are many styles and names like bike taxi, pedicab, tricycle taxi and even modern electric models.

Men pushed or pedaled the rickshaw because they were less expensive to hire than a horse. The driver and passenger of the Fischer rickshaw pictured here are wearing 1910 clothes, so the toy may have been made then.

The price for this toy is no longer a penny. It sold for $5,400 at a Bertoia auction.

I have a J.H. Cutter bottle similar to a bottle pictured on your website that sold for over $300 a few years ago. Mine isn’t a clear amber color like the one pictured on your site, unless it’s held up to the light. It has an iridescent color down one side with shades of blue-green and orange, maybe from something that was stored in it. I found it near the Boston seaport. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

The color of a bottle affects the price. Bottles in rare or desirable colors sell for more than those in other colors. “Amber” can include honey amber, olive amber, orange amber, deep tobacco amber and other shades. Sun turns glass lavender or dirty brownish beige.

Iridescence on the outside can come from being in water; on the inside it might be from contact with food. It takes an expert to tell the difference and determine the value of the bottle.

Current Prices

Birdcage, green base, shell door, hoop shaped stand, 66 inches, $25.

Popeye game, dexterity puzzle, Popeye the Juggler, painted metal frame, metal balls, Whimpy and Olive Oyl, Bar Zim Toys, 1920s, $195.

Folk art wood carving, eagle, wings tucked in, remnants of gilding, American, early 19th century,14 x 8 inches, $340.

Butter print, maple, round, carved, 6 leaves, 2 hearts, lollipop handle, signed & dated, WR 1846, Pennsylvania, 8 x 4 inches, $470.

Tip: If you are remodeling or redecorating, think about any antiques and collectibles displayed in the work area. Someone could hammer on a wall without worrying about the shelves on the other side.

Terry and Kim Kovel

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