Dress patterns are dated by their packaging Envelopes: Tell-tale clues are in the size of the pictures and the print on the front.

June 23, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

I collect old dress patterns. Is there any way to date them? I usually guess from the style of the dress.

Before 1880 or so, patterns were made of tissue and folded with a sketch and instructions.

Then, a pattern envelope was used. The envelope had a small picture of the dress and some type.

By 1900, the picture and the type had become much larger. By 1920, the picture covered almost the entire front of the envelope. Color envelopes were used by 1927. Today's standard-size envelope was used by 1932.

The dates printed on a pattern can be confusing. The patent date is only an indication of the earliest the pattern might have been used. The package design, the logo or the instruction format was patented, then sometimes used for years. It was not the dress design itself that was patented.

Copyright dates are usually for the dress design itself. But even those are only a guide. The pattern might have been issued a few years before or after.

My tin push toy was made by the Gong Bell Manufacturing Co. The circular metal part is painted with a cowboy on a horse. The paint is in good condition. The handle is intact. Do you have any idea what it is worth?

Working push toys made by the Gong Bell Manufacturing Co. sell for about $100.

I hope I didn't pay too much for the lamp-radio I purchased. It's shaped like a rocket ship. The radio is a "Lumitone Mitchell." What is it worth?

Lamp-radios from the 1950s are becoming very popular. A Lumitone rocket ship in good condition is worth about $125.

Tip: Check wooden dolls for insect damage and infestation. If you find insects, isolate the doll until you have it treated to remove them.

Pub Date: 6/23/96

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