Q & A with Harry Rinker: David Bradley Walk-Behind Tractor, Tho’s Maddock’s Son’s Biscuit Jar
QUESTION: I am storing a 1952 David Bradley walk-behind tractor with several attachments, among which are a cultivator, harrow, plow, push plow, rotary mower and wheel weights. Everything is in working order. Restoration should not require more than a repaint. Where is the market, and what price should I ask?
– TT, Old Town Maine, via e-mail
ANSWER: David Bradley, Bradley, Ill., manufactured walk-behind tractors for Sears from 1946 through 1967. Gary Treible has created a web site that provides detailed information on models and features, serial numbers and paint for Bradley walk-behind tractors.
David Bradley (1811-1899) was born in Croton, NY, worked for his brother C. C. Bradley in Syracuse, and moved to Chicago in 1835. From the mid-1830s until 1854, Bradley farmed, lumbered and made farm machinery at several locations in Illinois and Wisconsin. When he returned to Chicago, he purchased a part interest in a plow company. In 1884, Bradley and his sons bought the outstanding shares and named the company the David Bradley Manufacturing Company. In 1895, the company relocated to North Kankakee, Ill. Later North Kankakee was renamed Bradley, Illinois.
The Bradley family sold the company to Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 1910. The Newark Ohio Company bought Bradley from Sears in 1962. Fire destroyed most of the factory in 1986.
Jim Cunzenheim, Sr., president of the more than 900-member Vintage Garden Tractor Club of America, informed me that the first motor-driven, walk-behind garden tractors date to the late-1910s. Many early examples were homemade. Walk-behind tractors were designed to do the work of a single horse. Most were used by small commercial truck farmers and managers of large estates. During World War II, homeownership increased.
Cunzenheim noted there were more than 35 different attachments for the Bradley walk-behind tractors. Walk-behind tractor collectors most covet examples from the 1950s and 1960s. Hence, your Bradley is in demand.
The secondary eBay market for Bradley walk-behind tractors and accessories is active. Unrestored examples begin at $100. Your walk-behind with its accessories is a secondary market retail worth between $300 and $350.
EBay is not the only secondary market. Vintage garden tractors are featured at most “steam” and farm machinery/tractor meets. The VGTCOA sponsors plow meets throughout the Midwest and in Canada. These venues offer excellent sale opportunities.
QUESTION: I have a bulbous body biscuit jar with a flared out collar. The domed lid has a knob. The outside of the jar has ornate floral decoration which appears to have been applied utilizing a decal. The jar is marked on the bottom “Tho’s Maddeoh’s Lor’s Co., Trenton, NJ.” There also is a seal, which I cannot make out, surrounded by “New Jersey Pottery Co.” Finally, there is red script that reads: “62nd / Annual / Banquet / Chester Lodge / No. 236 / F. & A. M. / Thursday Evening December 1, 1910.” There is one small crack in the lid. How much is this jar worth?
– AS, via e-mail
ANSWER: You have misread the mark. It is “Maddock’s Son’s.” Thomas Maddock purchased pottery interests belonging to Mr. Coughley of Trenton in 1869. At the 1876 Centennial, Astbury & Maddock exhibited household sanitary crockery and earthenware. Maddock eventually gained full control of the company and brought his sons into the business. The company eventually became part of American Standard.
The Chester (Pennsylvania) Lodge #236 of the Free and Accepted Mason came into existence on Feb. 23, 1849. It replaced Chester Lodge #69, which received its charter on June 24, 1796 and had its warrant recalled in June 1838 during the height of the anti-Masonic movement. Lodge #236 met initially in the Penn Building at the corner of Third and Market Streets. In the mid-1850s, Lodge #236 built a new building at the corner of Broad and Madison Streets. In 1875, Lodge #236 bought Lincoln Hall at Fourth and Market Streets. The 62nd Annual Banquet took place in the banquet hall in that building.
Banquet souvenirs were common. Lodge #236 had Tho’s Maddock’s Son’s manufacture a taped body pitcher featuring an applied decal of a “pretty lady” and a “C” scroll handle for its 60th annual banquet. WorthPoint.com lists an example that sold on eBay on Aug. 5, 2010 for $39.90 plus shipping. In 1907, Maddock made a souvenir plate featuring the interior of Lodge #236. WorthPoint.com cites an example that closed on eBay on June 27, 2007 for $18 plus shipping and handling.
While your biscuit jar has appeal to biscuit jar collectors, its primary value rests with fraternal and Chester, Pa., collectors. Given the crack in the lid, its value is between $25 and $35.
QUESTION: I own a copy of Ellis Credle’s “The Flop-Eared Hound,” a children’s book illustrated with photographic images of a black boy and a hound dog. What can you tell me about the history of this book and its value?
– G, Ashland, ME
ANSWER: Ellis Credle (Aug. 18, 1902-Feb. 21, 1998) is a well-known author and illustrator of children’s books. She was born in Hyde County on North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound and attended Louisburg College. After spending four years teaching in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she went to New York to study advertising, interior design, and portraiture. During that period, she also served as a governess, keeping her charges entertained by telling stories. She wrote several drafts of children’s books but failed to find a publisher. Moving on to draw reptiles for the American Museum of National History and paint murals for the Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum, she eventually found a publisher for “Down Down the Mount” (1934). Other book contracts followed.
Ellis Credle married Charles deKay Townsend, a noted outdoor photographer. They lived in western North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia before moving to Zapopan in the State of Jalisco, Mexico in 1947. “My Pet Peepolo” (1948) is a children’s book set in Mexico. Unable to make a living from his photography in Mexico, the Townsends returned to the United States. Credle’s papers are archived at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
Prior to 1945, there were few children’s books portraying African-American children in a positive light. One exception was Ellis Credle’s “The Flop-Eared Hound” (1938), a 61-page book that told the story of an African American boy Bootjack and his dog. Instead of creating artwork, Credle used her husband’s photographs to illustrate the book. Bootjack and his family lived on a tobacco farm. The troublesome coonhound redeems himself by finding a lost little boy. The book is noteworthy for its failure to tell the story in the standard stereotype dialect.
“The Flop-Eared Hound,” published by Oxford University Press/Cadmus, enjoyed multiple editions, each with a different cover design. The website abebooks.com contains listings ranging in asking price from $8.95 to $165 plus shipping. An example recently sold on eBay for $4.12 plus shipping. While the extreme price range reflects condition, it more accurately represents perceived value on the part of the seller. The two highest prices, $100 and $165, are from booksellers who specialize in ethnic-theme children’s books. The seller who had the book listed for $165 on Abe Books lowered the price to $150 on his web site. It pays to comparison shop.
A realistic secondary market value for your book is between $18 and $25.
QUESTION: I have a pot metal Liberty Bell paperweight, a souvenir from the 1926 Sesquicentennial. What is it worth?
– RM, via e-mail
ANSWER: The1926 Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition, held in Philadelphia, celebrated America’s 150th anniversary. The fair opened on May 31, 1926 and closed in November. Louis Kahn designed many of the buildings. The exposition’s entrance symbol was an 80-foot replica of the Liberty Bell covered in 26,000 lights. A bridge, later known as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, was built between Philadelphia and Camden to handle the anticipated crowds. Although approximately 10 million people attended the exhibition, it was unable to pay its debts, was placed in receivership in 1927, and the assets sold at auction.
The pot metal Liberty Bell paperweight is a commonly found souvenir of the exposition. An example in very good or better condition sells for between $20 and $30.
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