Novelty clocks once were popular products

CURIOUS COLLECTOR

May 30, 1993|By Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen | Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen,Contributing Writers

Q: How valuable is my mint-condition 12-inch-high metal eight-day clock by Le Coultre? It resembles an old street lamp from the famous Rue de la Paix in Paris. It's still in its original box. -- H.A.N., Newark, Del.

A: Your mass-produced die-cast metal novelty desk clock dates from the 1930s or 1940s and is worth around $200 in good working condition, according to antique-clock dealer Kenneth Sposato, 46 Gedney Park Drive, White Plains, N.Y. 10605, (914) 948-4995. Novelty clocks were produced by many manufacturers and are appealing because they're amusing and nostalgic, but they rarely sell for more than a few hundred dollars each, added dealer Gordon Converse, 1029 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, Pa. 19312, (215) 296-4932.

Jaeger-Le Coultre of Switzerland, which made your clock, is best known for its wristwatches. At the turn of this century it invented what was then the world's thinnest watch movement. In 1925 the company introduced the first watch with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

Q: My colorful, framed, 1830s map of New Jersey appears to be a leaf from an atlas published by Carey & Hart of Philadelphia. Does its age make it valuable? -- P.S., Cinnaminson, N.J.

A: Age alone doesn't make a map valuable. Historical importance, aesthetics, rarity, maker and condition also must be considered when valuing a map. Although the colors differentiating New Jersey's counties add to your lithographed map's decorative appeal, it's neither particularly rare nor historically important. Henry C. Carey was a second-generation map maker in Philadelphia, according to Donald Cresswell of the Philadelphia Print Shop, 8441 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118, (215) 242-4750. He said a map like yours would retail for around $75.

Q: How old and valuable is the colorful wind-up Milton Berle toy car I discovered in my mother's attic? Both the car and its box are decorated with caricatures of the famous comedian and are in excellent condition. -- E.C., Trenton, N.J.

A: Vintage toy auctioneer Noel Barrett said your lithographed, pressed-tin, wind-up "crazy car" by Marx Toy Co. dates from the early 1950s. He sold a similar one with its box for $467 last November. There's lots of interest in TV and radio collectibles like your Milton Berle car, which is pictured in the newly issued "Baby Boomer Toys and Collectibles, with Price Guide," by Carol Turpen (Schiffer Publishing).

Have a question about an antique or collectible? Write to the Solis-Cohens, P.O. Box 304, Flourtown, Pa. 19031-0304, enclosing a clear photo of the whole object and all marks, and noting its size. If you want your photo returned, include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Personal replies are not possible, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

' Solis-Cohen Enterprises

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