Fixing up cast-iron toy decreases its value Market Value: Old horse-drawn dray is rare, but shiny colors would concern collectors.

Market Value

January 28, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES

I have a cast-iron toy I've been told was a souvenir of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. It's a horse-drawn cart with a man driving it. When pushed, the two horses' legs "gallop." The horses and driver are painted a shiny black. The cart is red, and its spoked wheels are bright yellow. What's it worth?

The toy you describe is not listed as a souvenir of the 1893 fair. Your toy seems to match one made by the Arcade Manufacturing Co. of Freeport, Ill. The company might have sold its items at the fair.

The Arcade horse-drawn dray is considered a rarity.

The shiny paint concerns us, though. Repainting a cast-iron toy reduces its value by at least half.

I bought a wooden box with a burned-in picture of the head of a pretty woman with other decorative shapes on the lid and sides. The box is 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. It's marked "Flemish Art Co." Some of the decoration looks amateurish. What is it?

You have an example of pyrography, the art of burning designs in wood. At the turn of the century, it was a popular hobby.

The Flemish Art Co. of New York City was one of several well-known companies that provided the tools, designs and wooden items for people to use at home.

Your box was probably meant to hold supplies on a desk.

Flemish Art Co. desk boxes with well-executed decorations sell for about $150.

I have an old violin that I believe is very valuable. Under the bridge is a label with the words "Antonio Stradivarius Anno 1726." There are other words that I can't quite make out.

There might still be a few authentic Antonio Stradivarius violins that haven't already been authenticated.

There are, however, a lot of fakes.

Enjoy your violin for its sound. Show it to a violinist in an orchestra for further proof that it is not authentic.

The Kovels welcome letters from readers and answer as many as possible through this column. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of mail personal answers are impossible. Write to them in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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