Armour's Star ham sign might retail for $3,500 to $5,500

CURIOUS COLLECTOR

September 19, 1993|By Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen | Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen,Contributing Writers

Q: What can you tell me about my 22 1/2 -inch-by-28 1/2 -inch tin sign advertising "Armour's 'Star' Hams and Bacon"? It shows a woman wearing a long white skirt, high-collared blouse and fancy hat taking money from her wallet to give to a boy in an apron who's holding a ham. They're standing in front of a butcher's counter, with ham and bacon displayed. The figures, meats and lettering all are raised. The sign's lower right corner is marked "The Meek & Beach Co., Coshocton, O." Since reading '' about a 1910 tin Campbell Soup sign that sold at auction for $93,000 in July 1990, I've been curious about my sign's value.

A: Your circa-1905 embossed lithographed tin Armour's sign made by Meek & Beach, of Ohio, could retail for around $3,500 to $5,500, according to dealer Allan Katz, of Allan Katz Americana, 175 Ansonia Road., Woodbridge, Conn. 06525, (203) 397-8144, a specialist in advertising art. It's worth as much as a nearly identical Armour's sign (in comparable condition) by Kaufmann & Strauss Co., of New York, which dates from around 1890. Condition is the key factor when valuing your sign, which appears to have some minor creases in the tin. Graphic appeal and rarity are important factors, too.

The $93,000 Campbell's sign with rows of soup cans depicting a 32-star American flag, brought a record price because it was in pristine condition, is one of only 12 known examples and has striking graphics. However, one in worn condition failed to sell at a recent auction. "The Campbell's sign was years ahead of its time. It was Pop Art," says Mr. Katz.

The Campbell's flag sign appears on the cover of "Huxford's Collectible Advertising: An Illustrated Value Guide," by Sharon and Bob Huxford, (Collector Books, $17.95).

Q: How valuable is my china plate commemorating the New York Giants' 1889 pennant victory? Six baseballs forming a triangle and two crossed bats decorate the plate's rim along with the inscription: "Pennant Winners 1889/New York Base Ball Club." The center has busts of the team's players and the words "The Giants." Its base is marked "W.H.M. Co."

A: Your commemorative plate by an undocumented maker could score at $750 to $1,500, depending on condition, according to dealer Ron Oser, of Sports Heroes, Neshaminy Interplex, Suite 301, Trevose, Pa. 19053, (800) 532-2444. Although a desirable baseball collectible, your plate "isn't as rare as one would think," said Mr. Oser, noting that two sold at auction in the last year or so.

Q: What's the age, origin, and value of my brass figural inkwell of a boy holding a long-handled bucket standing by a fence on an X-shaped base? There are two pressed-glass lidded wells for ink surrounding the figure, and a pen rest in front.

A: Because there's a dearth of good literature about figural brass inkwells, and few are marked by their makers, dealers generally can only guess at their origins based on stylistic similarities, anecdotal evidence, and experience handling them. Your charming cast-brass inkwell probably is English, from around the turn-of-this-century, and likely would retail for about $400, according to dealer Jeremy Ulin, of Coleman & May, P.O. Box 25, Annadale, Va. 22003, (703) 354-5075, whose booth at antique shows regularly features vintage desk accessories. Inkwell prices vary greatly depending on form, material, rarity, condition, and age.

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. Photos can't be returned. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

' Solis-Cohen Enterprises

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