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Q & A with Harry Rinker: Boy Scout Bible, Aurora Enamel Gas Stove, Homemade Flag

by Harry Rinker (10/31/11).

QUESTION: I own a copy of a Boy Scout Bible published by Thomas Nelson & Sons, New York. The title page notes: “Newly Edited by the American Revision Committee / A.D. 1901,” and the book has a 1901 copyright date. The American Boy Scouts were not founded until 1910. Yet, the Bible carries an “Introduction: by the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. Exactly what do I own?

– S.M., Grand Junction, Colo.

ANSWER: Many collectors and others are confused by copyright and patent dates. The date indicates when the copyright or patent was registered. In theory, it is the earliest date that the object could have been made. However, it is common for publishers to loosely interpret the date, occasionally marketing books a year or more in advance of the copyright date.

In 1910, a copyright protected a work for 26 years with the right of one renewal. Hence, a 1901 copyright date was valid through 1927.

The Twelfth Scout Law is “A Scout is Reverent.” When the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts made a decision to have an “official” Boy Scout Bible, it most likely examined dozens of versions, finally selecting the Thomas Nelson & Sons version. Nelson published a new edition of the Bible with the Boy Scout logo embossed on the cover and front matter that included “Helpful Scriptures for Scouts,” a detailed explanation of the Twelfth Law, the text of The Scout Oath and The Scout Law, and “How to Become a Scout.” The “How to Become a Scout” section emphasizes the creation of troops sponsored by a Sunday School or Church Superintendent. Since the Bible does not contain an edition date, a safe assumption is that the Boy Scout edition was first published between 1915 and 1920.

The Thomas Nelson Boy Scout Bible is only one variation of the Boy Scout Bible. A 1904 Revell version is known.

Researching the Internet, I found a leather bound version of the Nelson Boy Scout Bible offered by a dealer for $228. This example measures 4 1/8 inches by 2 1/8 inches. At a $228 asking price, the Bible has not sold. My gut reaction is that the price is high.

Your Bible is cloth covered. Much to my surprise, I failed to uncover any sales results on the Internet for the Nelson Boy Scout Bible. Again, relying solely on my gut, my assumption is that the Bible is not scarce within the Boy Scout collecting community. The lack of listings suggests a minimal market. If correct, the value of your Boy Scout Bible is between $20 and $30.

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QUESTION: I have an “Aurora” enamel gas stove. There are two ovens on the left, a larger oven over a smaller one (broiler oven). There are four gas burners covered by an enamel top when not in use. The legs are a simple cabriole-style. There is some chrome loss on the metal support band at the base of the stove body. What can you tell me about my stove and its value?

– J.D., Modesto, CA, via e-mail

ANSWER: Rathbone, Sard & Co. of Albany, New York, made your stove. Joel Rathbone, W. B. Hermance, and others organized Hermance, Rathbone & Co. in 1830. The company experienced numerous ownership and name changes in the years following. In 1883, Rathbone, Sard & Co. was formed. John F. Rathbone was president, and George Sard served as first vice-president and general manager. The company specialized in coal and wood burning kitchen and parlor stoves.

Rathbone, Sard & Co.’s Acorn brand enjoyed nationwide popularity. An Internet search revealed dozens of Acorn stove advertising trade cards issued during the 1880s, 1890s, and early 1900s. The back of one card reads: “Often the inquiry is made ‘What is there about Acorn Stoves and Ranges that make them so popular?’ / The answer is simple: Only the best new iron is used: only the highest grade skilled labor is employed; and only new and improved patterns are made.” By 1900, the company claimed to have “over 1,000,000” stoves in use.

In 1893, Rathbone, Sard & Co. built a large new production facility in Aurora, New York. Early in the 20th century, the company began the production of enamel gas stoves in response to the decline in the market for coal and wood burning stoves. A popular enamel model has a side oven and tall legs to bring the burners to cooking height. Early models had no temperature gauges on the oven. Cooks judged the oven temperature by feel. Green trim was a popular feature of 1920s and 1930s models.

Your stove has more conversation/decorative than collecting value. Most are displayed on a “just-for-nice” basis. When taping a home visit for HGTV’s “Collector Inspector,” I visited a 1920s home restoration that utilized a reconditioned 1920s enamel gas stove for cooking purposes. Hence, there also is reuse value.

An antiques mall or flea market dealer would ask between $175 and $225 for a stove similar to the one you own. An Internet search of dealers specializing in the sale of reconditioned antique stoves revealed much higher figures, often in excess of $500. As always, my advice is to think conservatively.

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QUESTION: I have a homemade flag measuring 48 inches by 29 inches. In addition to the 13 alternating red and white stripes, the blue area features a hand-painted eagle with its beak turned to the right, a breast shield with a blue banner above vertical red and white stripes, and talons grasping arrows. There are two star arcs (one with 9 stars beneath which is one with 4 stars) behind the eagle’s head. The flag, which is mounted in a display case, has been used and is worn in places, but beautiful none the less. What can you tell me about it?

– J.L., State College, Pa., via e-mail

ANSWER: Based on my analysis of the photograph that accompanied your e-mail, I have reached the following conclusion: your flag is not Civil War related. I base this on your flag’s construction, size and motif. The flag most likely dates between the Spanish American War and the First World War, thus providing a working date of 1898 to1918. I considered but rejected the possibility that the flag was made to commemorate the 1876 Centennial. The eagle motif is similar to the motif found on Spanish American War textiles and naval patriotic textiles associated with the Great White Fleet’s trip around the world.

The white vertical strip on the left side causes some confusion. There are no grommets, pocket or other indication of how the flag was flown. Is it possible the strip is a later replacement?

The lack of provenance impacts the flag’s value. You are correct in your assertion that the flag displays well. Its worn appearance is a plus rather than a negative. Based solely on its display value, your flag is worth $100. A strong family provenance would have doubled the value.

I suggest you send a picture of your flag to the North American Vexillological Association and enlist its support in identifying the age of your flag. Vexillology is the scientific study of flags.

The photograph did not provide enough detail of the fabric, the great unknown in my answering your question. The flag should be examined by a textile expert. If the fabric should prove to be mid-19th century, then all my assumptions are false and the value doubles to triples.

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QUESTION: I have a first edition of “Unfinished Revolution” by British author Philip Gould, a political strategist for the British Labour Party who was instrumental in Labour’s rise to power in the late 1990s and who helped to elect Tony Blair as Prime Minister in 1997. I was an intern for the Labour Party after graduating with a BA from the University of Oregon in 1991. My colleagues presented me with a Gould-signed copy of the book. In addition, I was able to obtain Tony Blair’s signature as well as John Prescott, the deputy Prime Minister, and Peter Mandelson, another British PM. What is the value of my book?

– R.R., Seattle, Wash., via e-mail

ANSWER: My first response is: value where? Clearly, the book has more value in England than in the United States.

The used book market for “Unfinished Revolution” ranges from $1 to $20. The author’s signature adds another $5 to $10.

Value, if any, rests in the Blair and Mendelson signatures. Your question suggests you were present when both individuals signed the book. Hopefully, you documented the signings via photograph or newspaper account. If not, you need to detail the story of when, where, and how you acquired the signatures. Given the amount of faked autographs in the marketplace, any buyer will be skeptical.

Tony Blair is a generous signer, giving his autograph free to anyone who requests it. As a result, the secondary market is flooded. Cherie Blair, Tony’s wife, sold one of his autographs on eBay for less than $15 in October 2010 as a means to protest the secondary online market for her husband’s signatures. Peter Mandelson’s signature also has minimal secondary market value.

While your book has strong memory value, its secondary market value is under $50.

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Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out Harry’s Web site..

You can listen and participate in Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show “Whatcha Got?” 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..

Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected queries will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Pond Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You can e-mail your questions to harrylrinker@aol.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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