For children, moving toys are perpetual favorites Antiques: Figures made of tin and powered by clockworks or springs have been delighting youngsters since the early 19th century.

March 30, 1997|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Children have always enjoyed toys that move and make noise. When tin toys were introduced about 1825, they were simple, decorated, tin cut-outs made in Germany and the United States. France entered the market soon after.

The early toys were given a power source of clockworks or windup springs. That made it possible to design toy carriages that could go forward and backward, as well as clowns with heads that bobbed around while the toy feet "walked."

By the early 1900s, almost every type of motion could be duplicated by a toy. Tin dogs chased balls, tin figures turned somersaults, tin chefs prepared food.

Most of the tin toys seen today were made in the 20th century. Some, however, use the motion technology developed in the previous century.

Among the most popular tin toys of yesteryear were comic cars (( driven by clowns, policemen or firemen. By the 1940s, most such toys were made in Japan, but some were still made in the United States and Germany.

Copies of the old toys are now being made in China, Taiwan, Korea, Hungary and elsewhere.

I have my father's old Rolex watch. It's made of pink gold with a leather strap. The face says "Rolex, Oyster Perpetual/Officially Certified Chronometer." Is this valuable?

Rolex watches of all ages are valuable.

"Oyster" is the name of the waterproof case. "Perpetual" refers to the type of movement inside the watch. Oyster Perpetual watches were first made in 1934. The pink gold version was made about 1946. In mint, working condition, it's worth roughly $4,750.

My bronze figural lamp was purchased at an auction. It's in the shape of a woman wearing a long gown and looking down. A shell-like shade is above her head. On the base of the lamp is the word "Behrens." How old is it?

Designer Peter Behrens was born in 1868 in Hamburg, Germany. He was an architect, painter and commercial artist.

Behrens was a founding member of the United Workshops for Art in the Handcrafts in 1898. He was director of the School of Arts and Crafts in Dusseldorf from 1903 to 1907, and a professor and director of the School of Architecture at the Vienna Academy. He died in 1940.

He designed your lamp in 1902. It is worth thousands of dollars.

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: 3/30/97

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