QUESTION: I have two signed and numbered dolls designed by Marion Yu. The boy doll is #846 and the girl is #502. Each has a porcelain head and hands and stands 16 inches tall. The boy is dressed in a blue outfit, the girl in a pink outfit. I do not have the literature or boxes that came with them. I would appreciate any information you can provide about them.
– JP, Pennsauken, NJ, via e-mail
ANSWER: When I did a Google search for “Marion Yu + doll,” I found a few references. Google also asked if I wanted to search “Marian Yu.” I clicked on “Marian Yu” and found many more listings. The correct spelling is Marian, not Marion.
Marian Yu dolls were sold on the Home Shopping Club cable channel in the late 1980s. They were touted as “heirloom dolls”—a do-not-waste-your money promotional trigger to any knowledgeable collectibles buyer. Most dolls were sold in numbered editions of 2,000. This explains the numbers of your dolls. Costumes varied from Victorian to Country informal.
Rinker’s 30 Year Rule applies: “For the first 30 years of anything’s life, all its value is speculative.” Buying any designer doll on a home shopping channel is speculative. Few increase in value over time. Most sell on the secondary market for pennies on the initial purchase dollar.
Prices asked and realized for Marian Yu dolls differed significantly. Internet doll dealers list dolls between $50 and $65. Private individuals offering them on “for sale” Web sites ask prices in the $40 to $50 range. A few realistic sellers use $15 and $20. Marian Yu dolls on eBay have opening bid requests starting as low as $5.95 and extending to $20. Only one example sold in the last 30 days. It closed at less then $10.
Your dolls have more play value than display value. They have no long-term collectability. Pass them along to a grandchild or favorite niece who will hug and hold them.
QUESTION: I have a Jaymar Scrappy and Margy wooden pull toy. Scrappy plays the xylophone. Margy, dressed in a Hawaiian skirt, stands in front of Scrappy. She turns around (dances) as the toy is pulled. What can you tell me about my toy’s history and value?
– K, Reading, Pa.
ANSWER: Jacob Marx—the father of David and Louis Marx—founded the Jaymar Specialty Company. Its business offices were located in Brooklyn, New York. Jaymar manufactured wooden toys. Marx, Louis Marx’s company, produced metal and tin toys.
Jaymar’s wooden toy line included dozens of comic character wooden-jointed figures, most produced in the 1930s and 1940s. The list includes Amos, Andy, Andy Gump, Betty Boop, Ed Wynn, Ignatz the Kat, Joe Palooka, Jeep, Jiggs, Kay, Little King, Little Orphan Annie, Moon Mullins, Olive Oyl, Popeye, Sandy, and Wimpy—a trip down Nostalgia Lane for anyone who read Sunday comics and/or watched movie cartoons during that period.
[Author’s Aside: Jaymar also made jigsaw puzzles. My collection of World War II military-theme puzzles contains more than a dozen different Jaymar examples.]
Jaymar also made several Disney-licensed toys. Like Marx, Jaymar began using overseas production facilities in the early 1950s. The company ceased operations in 1990.
For more information, see these two Web sites here and here.
The Charles Mintz Studio produced Scrappy cartoons for Columbia between 1931 and 1941. Scrappy, a young boy, drew his inspiration from the antics of Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” shorts. The cast of supporting characters included Oppy (his little brother), Margy (his girlfriend), Petey Parrot, and Yippy (his dog). Dick Huemer, Art Davis, and Sid Marcus created Scrappy.
Harry McCracken’s Web site Scrappyland contains a wealth of information on Scrappy. Ted Hake’s “The Official Price Guide to Pop Culture Memorabilia: 150 Years of Character Toys & Collectibles” (New York: House of Collectibles, 2008) covers Scrappy collectibles ranging from a Scrappy animated puppet theater to bisque figures.
I e-mailed Harry McCracken. He responded: “Unfortunately, I do not have the exact date but it is likely mid-1930s . . . Most surviving examples are not in great shape—especially Margy’s skirt, which is made of simulated grass. I estimate (an example) in very good to excellent condition is worth $200 to $300.
“One other thing: Just recently I have seen modern replicas. These are smaller than the original, and Margy does not spin around as you pull the toy. They have a fake aged look to them and might be mistakenly believed to be old if you do not examine them carefully.
“. . . even though Scrappy is not remembered by many people today, he was the subject of a LOT of toys back in the 1930s—possibly more than any other non-Disney animated character.”
QUESTION: I have a Realistic stereo camera and accessories in their period box. The first box holds the camera and viewer, the second the flash shield, and the third the photo flash. Does this material have any value?
– GC, Janesville, Wis.
ANSWER: “Dr T’s Stereo Realist Page” provides a myriad of information, including repair instructions, for the Stereo Realist camera.
Although Euclid (280AD) and Leonardo da Vinci (1584) conducted depth perception experiments, it was Keppler’s Dioptrice (1611) that provided the first detailed description of stereo vision. In 1833 Sir Charles Wheatstone created a reflecting mirror stereoscope. However, it was Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster’s stereoscope that created the stereo viewer template. Stereoscopes became popular in the mid-19th century. Queen Victoria was enchanted by one at the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition.
[Author’s Aside: ViewMaster uses stereoscopic imagery.]
Seton Rochwite applied for a job with David White Company, a Milwaukee manufacturer of precision surveying instruments,in 1943. As proof of his abilities, Rochwite showed general manager Theodore Salzer a series of stereo slides made from a prototype stereo camera Rochwite developed. Salzer spent nine months investigating the field of stereo photography. He hired Rochwite in the fall of 1943 to develop a stereo camera for David White Company, a process that took almost four years.
The Stereo Realist, using a 35mm format, was introduced in May 1947. Success was immediate. The camera sold for $160 and the viewer for $20, a princely sum in the late 1940s. By 1952 production of the Stereo Realist represented 67 percent of David White Company’s business. Competitors entered the market. In 1955 Kodak introduced its Kodak Stereo camera, which sold for half the price of a Realist. David White Company closed its stereo camera division in 1972.
The Stereo Realist came in two basic models: the 3.5 (1041) and the 2.8 (1042). Both used the same body. The primary differences were the lens and shutter speed.
Stereo Realistic cameras and accessories are available for sale on the Internet. A seller on GoAntiques.com is asking $150 for a camera. An eBay seller is asking $198.40, reduced from $248, as a “Buy It Now” price for a camera, flash unit, support literature and carrying case.
Realistically (a pun definitely intended), your camera and accessories have a secondary market value between $145 and $165. Do not be fooled by the above prices. They are asking prices. No one is buying. Finally, the value I provided assumes your camera is in working order. If it needs repairs of any kind, its value becomes minimal.
QUESTION: I have an “1876 Spaulding Official Baseball Guide.” How can I be certain it is not a reproduction?
– JJ, via e-mail
ANSWER: Spaulding founded his baseball store in 1876. The chance that you have a period 1876 catalog is between slim and none. Yet, miracles happen.
The paper is the first clue. If it has turned brown and brittle and the page edges are beginning to fray, this is a bad sign. If the paper is off-white, this is better, but not conclusive. Modern paper also is white.
Reprints often are marked, albeit in very small type that is difficult to spot. Look near the bottom of the first several pages.
Your eyes are the best source. If period, the guide is over 130 years old. Does it look this old? Does it show indications of use? If it looks new, it is.
If a reprint, there will be a loss of crispness in the type. Fuzziness indicates a photographic reproduction.
If you still are unable to determine if your piece is period or a copy after applying the above, take your catalog to a sports memorabilia dealer or paper ephemera expert and ask them to examine it. Good luck.
Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out his Web site.
You can listen and participate in “WHATCHA GOT?,” Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show on Sunday mornings between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It streams live on the Genesis Communications Network.
“Sell, Keep Or Toss? How To Downsize A Home, Settle An Estate, And Appraise Personal Property” (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via Harry’s Web site: http://www.harryrinker.com.
Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected letters will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5093 Vera Cruz Road, Emmaus, PA 18049. You also can e-mail your questions to email@example.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.
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