When buying a Speaking Dog bank, look for the blue dress

  • By Terry Kovel
May 10, 2013
This Speaking Dog bank sold last year for more than pennies at RSL Auctions of Oldwick, N.J. The price was $12,000 plus a $2,280 buyer’s premium. It was the rare blue-dress variety.

Children’s toys often tell us how times have changed. Canada stopped making pennies last year, so saving money a penny at a time will soon be a problem in Canada. The United States also may stop making pennies, since the cost of the copper in a single coin is more than one cent. But, ironically, the cost of a 19th-century mechanical bank has gone up. A Speaking Dog bank set a record at $63,250 a few years ago. The girl with the dog on that bank was wearing a blue dress.

Most of these banks have a girl with a red dress. The bank was sold at Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania in 2007, before the economic downturn in 2008. And the record bank had almost perfect paint.

But the Speaking Dog bank still is very popular. It sells today for prices that range from $150 for one with worn paint and rust to over $14,500 for an excellent example. But watch out; copies have been made. The cast-iron mechanical bank was made by the J. & E. Stevens Co. of Cromwell, Conn., in about 1895. Place a penny on the tray in the girl’s hand. When the lever is pushed down, the dog opens its mouth, swallows the penny and wags its tail.

Q. I have an electric clock that pictures the Trylon and Perisphere and the words “New York World’s Fair 1939” in gold on the face. The clock is in the shape of a ship’s wheel and is about 11 inches tall. It was made by Sessions Clock Corp. and keeps perfect time. Does it have any value?

A. The New York World’s Fair opened on April 30, 1939, the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as president of the United States. It ran until the end of October that year, reopened in May 1940 and closed on Oct. 27, 1940. Many souvenirs were made for the fair. Items that picture the Trylon and Perisphere are especially wanted by collectors. The three-sided Trylon and spherical Perisphere, symbols of the fair, were temporary structures made of plasterboard over steel frames. Check the website 1939NYWorldsFair.com for more information on the 1939 fair. Value of your clock: about $100.

Q. I inherited an antique Chippendale maple dresser with four drawers. There’s a large tag inside one drawer that’s titled “Florian Papp.” Handwritten information on the card says the dresser is a “genuine antique” made in New England and that it was sold by Florian Papp in 1927. I would like to learn more.

A. Florian Papp (1883-1965) was born in Hungary and immigrated to the United States in about 1900. He worked as a cabinetmaker and furniture restorer before opening a gallery in New York City, where he specialized in selling European antiques. The Florian Papp antiques and art gallery is still in business, now operated by the third generation of the Papp family. It has always been a very important gallery, and the provenance on the card is a guarantee that the dresser was made in New England and is not a reproduction.

Q. I found a platter in my mother’s china cupboard that doesn’t match anything else she had, and I have no idea where it came from. The mark on the bottom is a circle with a crown on top. The word “Celebrate” is inside the circle, and “Made in Germany” is written below. Is this platter old and valuable?

A. The mark you describe was used by Geo. Borgfeldt & Co., a New York City importer. The company was in business from 1881 until about 1976. Geo. Borgfeldt & Co. imported china and earthenware, dolls, toys, glassware, novelty goods and other items from Europe and sold them to retailers in the United States. The mark was used beginning in 1936. “Celebrate” is one of the trademarks owned by Borgfeldt. Your platter probably was made in the late 1930s, before the outbreak of World War II. It is difficult to sell a piece that probably was part of a set. Value: about $40.

Tip: Never scrub threaded coral beads. The edges of the coral are so sharp they may cut the bead string.

Current prices

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

• Glass fedora candy container, clear, 4 1/2 x 2 x 4 inches, $25.

• Peters & Reed vase, Moss Aztec, Vestal Virgins, 6 3/4 inches, $35.

• Still bank, cast iron, child in boat, holding fish, mermaid, gold paint, 4 5/8 x 4 3/8 inches, $210.

• Student lamp, brass, green glass shade, etched dragons, 24 inches, $235.

• Roseville vase, Iris pattern, pink, handles, 9 x 15 inches, $305.

• George Nelson wall clock, “Ball,” birch, brass spokes, red second hand, round, Howard Miller, 13 1/4 inches, $425.

• Match holder, shovel & bucket shape, metal, hanging, 9 x 3 inches, $440.

• Architectural bracket, eagle, spread wings, giltwood, pinecone finial, serpentine shelf, c. 1885, 18 x 20 inches, pair, $1,600.

• Renaissance Revival library table, walnut, marble top, demilune ends, drawer, trestle base, 29 x 53 inches, $1,845.

• Sterling silver water pitcher, mermaid, pearls, flowing hair, repousse, Whiting Mfg. Co., c. 1888, 8 5/8 inches, 4,480.

Write to Kovels, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.



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