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Q & A with Harry Rinker: Frankart Bookends, Pendulette Clock, Religious Statue

by Harry Rinker (02/27/12).

QUESTION: I have a pair of bronze-finished, spread-winged, standing eagle bookends on a triangular marble or onyx base. The eagles have a “futuristic” look. They are marked on the back of their tails: “Frankart Inc. / “Pat. Appl’d For.” The bottom of the base has a very thin felt that is starting to come loose. What is the value of my bookends?

– MG, Sacramento, Calif.

ANSWER: Arthur Frankenberg, also known as Arthur von Frankenberg, was a designer and sculptor of Art Nouveau and Art Deco figures. His principal emphasis was on the female form, a subject which was transformed into a wealth of utilitarian household objects.

Initially, Frankenberg designed, had produced and marketed his figural sculptures on his own. In the early 1920s, Frankart Inc. was organized. Frankenberg served as president, Henry Underberg as vice president and general manager, and George Murad as secretary. Murad was a caster, eventually becoming the factory manager. Frankart, Inc. was incorporated in 1924.

Frankart was headquartered in Manhattan, first at 1170 Broadway at 28th Street and later at 225 Fifth Avenue. The Manhattan studio also moved from location to location within Brooklyn, as did the production facility.

Frankenberg’s designs and products achieved international fame. Sales representatives were located in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland and Toronto, Canada. The product line was extensive: an aquarium, ashtrays, bookends, centerpieces, clocks, incense burners, inkwells, lamps, smoker stands and smoker sets, vases and wall plaques. Initially, French (brown with green in the crevices), Japanese Bronze (very dark brown—almost black—with green in the crevices) and Verde (Roman green) finishes were offered. Other colors added to the line include Bronze (copper-like tone), Gunmetal (dark gray), Paine (fine green), Pearl Green (pale iridescent), Pearly Ivory (white iridescent), Red (flat Chinese red) and Verde Antique (dark green with black overtones).

In 1930, Frankenberg had a falling out with Underberg and Murad. Legal action, won by Underberg and Murad, ensued. The company faltered without new Frankenberg creations. Murad bought out Underberg. Frankart, Inc. ceased operations in 1935.

Frankenberg founded Quoizel Metal Art Company in l930, taking some of his designs with him. The company folded in 1931. Frankenberg faded from the scene. Information about his later life is scant. For more information, visit Deco Collector and Davis Deco.

A pair of Frankart eagle bookends identical to the pair you own sold for $80 at a Renaissance Estate Gallery Auction in June 2010. Another pair, albeit with damage to one of the wings, sold on eBay on January 8, 2012 for $31 plus $11.20 shipping. Your bookends have a secondary market retail value between $85 and $100.

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QUESTION: I have an animated lovebirds pendulette clock that is engraved on the back: “Keebler Clock Company / Philadelphia, PA / Patented USA / 1563431 / 1709146 / Made in the USA.” I inherited the clock from my grandmother Emma Florenda (Heffner) Miller, who lived in Virginville, Richmond Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I found the following information on Dan and Diana Lockett’s website: “No. 250 / Circa: 1936-1941 / Manufactured by: WESTCLOX for: August C. Keebler Co. Molded Syroco wood face, ornamental brass weights and chains. Colors: Walnut face, green leaves and red flowers with green and yellow moving lovebirds. Animation: Metal lovebird rocks back and forth as pendulum swings. Wide 3 ¾” Height 5 ¾” overall. Westclox 30 hour guaranteed key wind pendulette movement. The model winds from the front and takes a #3 key. Beats 200 times per minute. This clock originally retailed for $3.50.” What is the value of my clock?

– RDC, Altoona, Pa., via e-mail

ANSWER: August C. Keebler Co. was a Chicago wholesaler of clocks. In addition to Westclox, The Lux Clock Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Conn., also made clocks for Keebler. At some point in the mid-1930s, Keebler moved its headquarters to Philadelphia. The first “Philadelphia” Keebler clocks appeared around 1936. The company survived into the late 1940s.

Westclox began as the United Clock Company in 1885. The company was located in Peru, Ill. A series of re-namings and bankruptcies followed. In 1888, the company emerged as the Western Clock Manufacturing Company. The Westclox trademark was introduced in 1910. The Western Clock Company merged with Seth Thomas in 1931. In 1936, the Westclox brand became the Westclox Division of General Time Corporation.

TRIVIA QUIZ: What famous clock did the Western Clock Manufacturing Company introduce in 1909?

Pendulette is French for “small clock.” A pendulette has a short, fast-moving pendulum. Although Keebler primarily sold wall mounted clocks, the pendulette also is found in tabletop models.

Syroco wood, a brand name of the Syracuse (N.Y.) Ornamental Company, is made from wood flour (a mixture of fine sawdust) mixed with resin that is poured into a mold, dried, removed from the mold, and painted. Molds were produced by first carving a master mold from pear wood. Liquid rubber was poured over the mold. When hardened, it was used to make a plaster cast that was used to create a metal mold. It was into the metal mold that the wood flour and resin mix was poured.

Your clock is classified as a novelty clock, based in large part on the animation associated with the clock movement. Keebler sold dozens of different models. The same is true for Lux.

WorthPoint.com lists a Keebler Lovebirds pendulette clock that sold on eBay on Feb. 26, 2008 for $102.50. A second example closed on ebay.co.uk (English eBay) at $25.07 on August 29, 2011.

Novelty pendulette clocks experienced a collectors’ craze in the 1990s and the first part of the 2000s. The market has cooled considerably. The secondary market retail value of your clock in working condition is between $50 and $65.

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QUESTION: Ten years ago, I purchased a religious statue of the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” at Zern’s Farmer’s Market in Boyertown, Pa. The statue stands 14 inches high. The base is 4 inches square. “1928 © T. M. O’Connell Co.” is marked on the rear of the base. The statue was accompanied by a card giving the Tekakwitha birth date as 1656 and death date as 1680 and noting that she was beatified by Pope John Paul II in June 1980. I paid $1 for it. Is my statue worth more than this?

– KH, Reading, Pa., via e-mail

ANSWER: While I encourage my university students not to treat Wikipedia as a scholarly source, it is a wealth of information not available elsewhere. Detailed information about Kateri Tekakwitha is found there.

The T. M. O’Connell Company, located in Philadelphia, was a manufacturer of religious statuary, primarily for sale to Catholic churches and their members. I found listings for a 1940s Madonna bust on eBay priced at $9.99 plus shipping, a 1957 Stations of the Cross #5 composed of wood and plaster on Catholic Statuary listed at $2,100, plus shipping, and marked as “SOLD,” and a WorthPoint.com citation for a 1930, 16-inch-tall, chalkware statue depicting The Sacred Heart of Jesus & Mary that sold on eBay on July 7, 2010, for $19.99.

Religious objects are a tough sell in the antiques and collectibles business. The plus is your statue has Native American appeal in addition to its religious affiliation. You spent your dollar wisely. Your statue of Kateri Tekakwitha is valued between $20 and $25.

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QUESTION: I have a vintage Numerchron TV clock made by the Tele-Vision Clock Company. What is its value?

– J. Nesopeck, Pa.

ANSWER: Pittsburgh-based Pennwood Electric Company, founded in the 1930s, was one of the first companies to market a digital electric clock. At some point the company changed its name to the Pennwood-Numerchron Company, remaining in business until 1972.

Pennwood sold its digital clock movements to a wide variety of companies including clock manufacturers Barr, General Electric and Larson. The clock movements also appeared in radios such as the Hamilton-Ross “Telatime” and Colonial’s Model 1722 console made for Sears, Roebuck.

Pennwood’s Model 700 “TV Tymeter” lamp clock, often co-labeled with “Television Clock Corp. of America,” was its most popular product. It was designed to sit atop early television sets to provide a glimmer of light in an otherwise darkened room, the theory being that the light helped relieve eyestrain. The advertisement read “Glolite Colorama Television Lamp Clock with Focalizer Stare-Break.” Wow! Click here to see examples.

EBay always has numerous examples of your clock selling at auction or with “Buy It Now” listings on a weekly basis. One optimistic “Buy It Now” seller is asking $99.99. With patience, a potential buyer can purchase a working example between $25 and $35.

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TRIVA QUIZ ANSWER: The Big Ben alarm clock.

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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.

Copyright © Rinker Enterprises, Inc. 2012

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