Kids and collectors love Santa Antiques: Anything that pictures a vintage Santa Claus is in demand: toys, tree ornaments, candy containers, figurines, pictures from ads, books, dishes and more.

December 22, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Santa Claus is a symbol of Christmas that is probably based on St. Nicholas, who was a bishop of Myra in Asia Minor during the fourth century.

Through the centuries, the idea of the kind, gift-giving St. Nicholas changed to Father Christmas, then to the Dutch Sinter Claes and gradually into the St. Nick and Santa Claus that we know.

Father Christmas was a stern man who punished as well as rewarded children. He was tall and thin and usually dressed in a fur robe, and he wore a wreath of Christmas greens. St. Nick was an elf who was small enough to slide down a chimney.

By the 1860s, Santa Claus had become a well-known figure in the United States. He was small, plump and wore a red suit trimmed in white fur. By the 1930s, Santa's appearance had changed. Advertisements of the day pictured a full-sized, red-cheeked man who was very plump.

LTC Anything that pictures a vintage Santa Claus is in demand by collectors: toys, tree ornaments, candy containers, figurines, pictures from ads, books, dishes and more.

One sought-after Santa is the Royal Bayreuth figural milk pitcher. It is just more than 5 inches high. Santa wears a red hat and a red coat trimmed in white fur, and he carries a green bag of toys.

Royal Bayreuth figurals were made after 1870. They are marked with the factory name.

Someone told me my old rocking chair was a "Boston rocker." I doubt that it came from Boston. Can you explain?

The Boston rocker is the most common style of rocker. It appeared in New England about 1840. The style was copied in all parts of the country, but the chairs were always called Boston rockers.

Boston rockers have a rolled seat front, arms and rockers that extend in the back. The backs have seven to nine spindles and are often decorated with stencil designs.

A "Little Boston" rocking chair has no arms and five spindles, and is smaller overall.

My Buddy Lee doll is dressed in overalls. What's it worth?

The H. D. Lee Co. made Buddy Lee dolls to advertise its uniforms. The dolls were dressed as train engineers, cowboys, industrial workers and others. Your doll in Lee overalls, made in 1949, is worth from $140 to $170.

My dad was a moving-van driver. Every Christmas I received a moving-van toy. One that I saved is a wind-up painted metal one. It says, "We haul anything anywhere" and "Royal Van Co." Does it have any value besides sentimental?

Your Royal moving van, made by Marx Toys, has a $500 value in mint condition.

Since you probably played with it, you could expect to get $200 for it in good condition.

I bought the most unusual pitcher at a garage sale. I thought that it was pottery, but it's painted glass! It pictures a stag with a full set of antlers. The top and bottom of the pitcher have a sort of purple cast. Do you have any information?

You have a rather rare piece of Westmoreland glass. In 1910, the Pennsylvania company advertised tankard sets with "pottery effects on glass." Most of the sets were spray-painted and decorated with transfer decorations.

Your elk pitcher was hand-painted. Few hand-painted or transfer-decorated sets were made in purple. Your pitcher is worth from $325 to $400. The matching mugs sell for $65 to $75 each.

The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. Write to Kovels, The Sun, King Features Syndicate Inc., 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Pub Date: 12/22/96

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