QUESTION: I own a reverse painting on glass of Pennsylvania’s famed Horseshoe Curve, located just outside Altoona, Pa. The painting measures 29 ½ in. by 13 ½ in. The painting hung in my grandparent’s parlor when I was a child. I am now 84. Initially, the gilded floral-motif frame was wider, but my grandmother had my uncle cut it down. At one time, I touched up the painting with a bit of black paint. What is its value?
– R.T., Johnstown, Pa., via e-mail
ANSWER: Although reverse painting on glass dates back to antiquity, its first period of popularity occurred during the Italian Renaissance of the 14th and 15th centuries. The technique quickly spread throughout Europe. Paintings were secular and religious, often with a folk art quality.
Reverse painting on glass arrived in American cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and Salem in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Artists were immigrants from England and Europe, especially German-speaking countries. Commercial production began in the early 19th century and continued into the early 20th century.
Large size, commercially manufactured reverse paintings on glass became a popular decorative accessory between 1895 and 1920. In addition to dozens of generic scenes such as the cottage in the woods, the house by the lake and the mountain landscape, national scenic landmarks (Niagara Falls or the Statue of Liberty) and historic events (Sinking of US Maine or the sinking of HMS Titanic) were popular. Your Horseshoe Curve image fits into the national scenic landscapes group.
The Pennsylvania Railroad completed the Horseshoe Curve in 1854. Considered an engineering marvel, it is now part of the Norfolk Southern Railway track system. The curve is located in the Kittanning Gap in the Allegheny Mountains about five miles west of Altoona. The curve covers an arc of 220 degrees.
In 1966, the Horseshoe Curve was designated a National Historic Landmark. It also is included in the National Register of Historic Places. The Curve is a popular tourist attraction and accessible for viewing by a funicular railway that travels to a small park located at the ridge summit.
Cutting down the frame minimally impacts value. According to the image attached to your e-mail, the frame appears undamaged, a plus. Obviously, the touch-up work that you did also decreases the value slightly, but again minimally if it cannot be easily detected. The location of a reversed painting on glass does impact value. In and around central Pennsylvania, your reverse painting on glass of the Horseshoe Curve is worth between $125 and $145. Outside of Pennsylvania, the value drops below $75.
“Take an object back to its location and double its value” is an old trade maxim. While its applicability is fading, it applies in this instance.
QUESTION: I own a Victrola VV-80, serial number #149747, record player. It is in playable condition. What is its value?
– N.R., Scappoose, Ore., via e-mail
ANSWER: Victor-Victrola introduced its VV-80 model in 1921. It was the lowest priced phonograph in Victor-Victrola’s line, and its website provides this: “The 80 was a small and basic phonograph, with a minimum of decoration. Trim was machined, rather than hand-carved. All 80’s had the semi-automatic brake and a two-spring motor. The VV-80 was available in mahogany, oak or walnut, but the most popular choice was mahogany with a dark stain applied. The earliest version had no record storage shelves; these were added later as standard equipment by the end of 1921. The VV-80 cabinet was updated in December 1922, with a much larger horn opening and a slightly larger cabinet. The VV-80 was discontinued from the Victor catalog in late 1925.
“The original 1921 selling price of the VV-80 was $100. An estimated total of 185,500 Victrola 80’s were produced.
“A total of 75 VE-80 (electric) models were reported produced during 1924 and 1925, however, no accurate breakdown of per year production is yet possible. Serial numbers for the VE-80 models begin at 501 . . .”
A manufacturing date / serial number range chart on the website indicates your phonograph was manufactured in 1924.
In the first half of the 2000s, Japanese buyers created a spike in the value of hand-crank phonographs. The price for a common 1920s phonograph, such as your VV-80, reached $400. When the Japanese economy suffered inflationary woes and the yen fell against the dollar, the craze ended. Value dropped by half or more. In 2011, the value of your phonograph is between $200 and $250. Collector interest is minimal for common examples. Individuals wishing to buy an example for conversation/display purpose prefer phonographs with more elaborate cabinets and added features.
QUESTION: I own three baseball gloves. The first two belonged to my Dad when he served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. These are a JC Higgins Genuine Horsehide Harold “Pie” Traynor Special fielder’s glove and a JC Higgins Genuine Cowhide Sammy Holbrook catcher’s mitt. The date “June 24, 1936” is written on the back of the catcher’s mitt. I owned the third glove, a 1956-60 MacGregor Model G120 Robin Roberts fielder’s glove. All are in used condition. What are they worth?
– W.L., Milton, Wisconsin, via e-mail
ANSWER: “Endorsed” baseball gloves are eagerly sought by collectors. Judging from the illustrations of the front and back of each glove that are attached to your e-mail, all three gloves appear to be in very good condition. Although used, the signatures and manufacturer information is easy to read.
Harold Joseph “Pie” Traynor (Nov. 11, 1898-March 16, 1972) only played for one team during his professional career—the Pittsburgh Pirates—from 1920 to 1937. Considered by some to be the greatest third baseman in major league history, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.
James Marbury “Sammy” Holbrook (July 17, 1910-April 10, 1991) played only one season in the majors—1935, as a member of the Washington Senators. From 1929 to 1942, he played minor league ball.
Robin Evan Roberts (Sept. 30, 1926-May 6, 2010) spent the bulk of his major league baseball career (1946-1961) with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was with the Baltimore Orioles from 1961-1965, the Houston Astros from 1965-1966 and Chicago Cubs in 1966. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.
Condition, scarcity and membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame are the obvious value considerations. The sale location of the seller plays a role. Gloves listed on specialized dealer Internet sites are priced at two to three times what an identical glove brings on auction websites such as eBay when it sells through. However, many eBay offerings fail to achieve this goal.
What dealers ask is often not what collectors are willing to pay. Some dealers deserve an “eternal optimistic” award. One such example is an eBay dealer with a “Buy It Now” price of $800 for a “Pie” Traynor Special Fielder’s Glove in its period box, both the glove and box being in very good condition at best. I doubt if he would consider an offer of $50. Another eBay seller offered a Pie Traynor glove in August 2011 with an opening bid request of $125 and $11.45 shipping. The price did not attract a buyer. The Traynor glove appeared for sale in the 1928 Sears, Roebuck catalog.
A Sammy Holbrook catcher’s mitt was listed in August 2011 on eBay with an opening bid of $49.99 and a shipping charge of $6.95. It went unsold. WorthPoint.com lists an example that sold on eBay on August 14, 2010 for $13.49.
A Robin Roberts MacGregor Model G120 glove in very good condition was listed in September 2011 on eBay with an opening bid request of $19.95 and shipping and handling costs of $7.70. The listing failed to attract a bid. The website Vintage Sports Shoppe lists similar gloves from the same area at prices ranging from $25 to $45.
Based on the above, a value between $25 and $30 is a good range for your Holbrook and Roberts gloves. A safe value for the Traynor glove is around $50. At these prices, consider keeping the gloves rather than selling them. The memories they evoke are worth more than their dollar value.
QUESTION: I have an unopened bottle of Camphersuare Natrium (sodium salt of camphoric acid) in the original Kahlbaum bottle with a cork stopper, paper cover and string with lead seal attached. The bottle has a Bausch and Lomb sticker on it. I believe Bausch and Lomb were the importers. The bottle is molded with a large K surrounded by a “benzene ring” on the bottom. I obtained the bottle 40 years ago when I was in graduate school at the University of Illinois, at which time the old stuff from the chemistry storeroom was being discarded. Does this bottle have any value or is it just an interesting memento of my student days?
– R.B., State College, Pa, via e-mail
ANSWER: C. F. Kahlbaum of Berlin was a major supplier of chemicals used in college and university and industrial research laboratories prior to World War I. An Internet search failed to produce a history of the company. I tried researching the chemical and found little.
Your bottle of Camphersuare Natrium has more curiosity than collector value. Its display value is around $10. Your compassion only postponed its final resting place—a dump or landfill somewhere.
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