June 15, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: Decorative humidor made in Japan

A reader sent us a picture of an item in an auction catalog that looked like a cookie jar decorated with racing horses, but it had a strange lid. What else could it be? Why horses on a cookie jar?

The lid and the size, 7 inches high, are clues. The jar is a humidor, a container for cigars, cigarettes, pipe tobacco and even cannabis that keeps the tobacco moist and shields it from sunlight, insects and damage.

Humidors were necessary and very popular in the late 1880s to early 1900s, when smoking cigars was a sign of masculinity. Most vintage humidor cases are made of attractive wood and lined with Spanish cedar, a wood that holds moisture and does not warp. It also has a pleasant odor and discourages tobacco beetles. But humidors were also made of glass, ceramics, metal or even plastic.

The humidor pictured is marked with an “M” in a green wreath, the trademark used by the Morimura Brothers Company, a New York City import firm that operated from 1911 to the 1950s.

The humidor is called the Kentucky Derby Scenic. It was probably made by Noritake, a Japanese company. It auctioned for $130 at an online sale of Nippon china by the Harritt Group of Indiana.

What’s the best way to clean a rubber doll? I’ve had mine for about 65 years, and it has a lot of sentimental value to me. It closes its eyes when it’s laid down, cries when squeezed and has hair that can be combed. It’s dirty from having been played with then left sitting in a corner. I cleaned it with Dawn detergent and water, but I don’t think it did a thing. Is there something else I can use, or do I just accept that my neglect stays on the doll?

There are a few things you can try, but remember to test them out in an inconspicuous place, like the bottom of the doll’s foot, first. It’s better to have a slightly dirty doll than one that’s ruined.

Try rubbing off the dirt with undiluted detergent instead of detergent and water, or use a damp cloth dipped in baking soda. Other suggestions include rubbing the doll with an art eraser or using a damp “magic eraser.” Just don’t use anything that contains bleach.

Current Prices

Fan, electric oscillating, Robbins & Myers, art deco style, 4 blades in wire cage, black paneled base, marked R&M, 18 inches, $60.

Cut glass wine goblet, Val St. Lambert, Boris pattern, green cut to clear, crosshatching, diamond cut stem, rayed foot, c. 1920, 7 inches, $150.

Advertising boot scraper, duck, scraping bar on back, Kendell O’Brien Lumber, Door & Hardware, painted cast iron, 17 inches, $275.

Disney toy, Stretchy Pluto, Pluto chasing ball, tin lithograph, spring center, 4 wheels, windup, box, Walt Disney Productions, Linemar, 6 3/4 by 3 1/2 inches, $490.

Tip: Wrap jewelry in acid-free tissue or in cotton bags to keep pieces from bumping and scratching.

Terry and Kim Kovel

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. © 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.