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Q & A with Harry Rinker: Transistor Radio, Red Cross Wine Press & Reel Lawn Mower

by Harry Rinker (06/27/11).

QUESTION: I have a Zenith All Transistor Trans-Oceanic AM-FM Multiband Royal 3000-1 radio in good working order. It takes nine D-size batteries but also runs on AC using an adapter. The body has a black and chrome appearance. There is a whip antenna in the handle. What might it be worth?

– SS, Lancaster, Pa., via e-mail

ANSWER: Commander Eugene F. McDonald, Zenith’s founder, was an outdoorsman and yachtsman. Wishing to tune into radio and shortwave broadcasts while outdoors, McDonald ordered his engineers to develop a portable radio in 1940. The result was Zenith’s Model 7G605, “Trans-Ocean Clipper,” introduced in early 1942. Some 35,000 units with a retail price of $75 were produced before Zenith switched to wartime production in April 1942. Robert Davol Budlong designed the first post-war model, 8G005Y, priced at $125. The H500 “Super Trans-Oceanic,” launched in May 1951, sold for $99.95.

The Royal series, which appeared in 1962, utilized transistors rather than tubes. The 1979 R7000 was the last Zenith Trans-Oceanic made. Sony’s digital readout tuning dial radio, a superior product, was the Trans-Oceanic’s death knell.

The Royal 3000 was the second Zenith transistor Trans-Oceanic series. Three-thousand series radios had nine bands—AM, FM and seven shortwave bands. The 3000-1 model had a 12-volt adapter. The retail cost in 1964 was $275. The 3000 series was in production between 1964 and 1971.

A Royal 3000-1 sold on eBay on April 22, 2011 for $72.05. Another eBay seller listed one for a “Buy It Now” price of $79. I also found listings on other Internet sites for prices ranging between $35 and $50. Value is driven by sound quality and appearance. The $75 price is for an example looking fresh out of the box and with excellent reception.

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QUESTION: I recently purchased a Red Cross wine press at auction for $310. The piece is in excellent condition. The only mark I found was “P31N.” My daughter researched the Red Cross wine press on the Internet but found very little. What information can you provide?

– DS, North Jackson, Ohio, via e-mail

ANSWER: Red Cross Manufacturing Company, the maker of your wine press, was located in Bluffton, Ind. I contacted the Wells County Public Library (200 West Washington Street, Bluffton, IN 46714) and talked with Ms. Alice Curry, the Genealogy Clerk. Ms. Curry sent me more than a dozen sheets of information pertaining to the Red Cross Company and its products, including a copy of T. Lindsay Baker’s “A Product History of the Red Star and Red Cross Windmills,” which appeared in the Windmillers’ Gazette, XIX, No. 1 (Winter 2000).

Your Red Cross wine press’s history began with windmills. In 1898, Rufus G. Marcy—with business partners George A. Ullman, Joseph A. Ullman and C. W. Sherick from Ashland Manufacturing Company—founded the R. G. Marcy Manufacturing Company to manufacture windmills. The factory was located at the corner of Washington and Oak Streets in Bluffton.

The Marcy windmills, originally called “Red Star,” were almost identical to Flint and Walling Manufacturing Company’s (Kendalville, Ind.) “Steel Star” and “Original Star” windmills. Marcy had worked for Flint and Walling for more than two decades. Flint and Walling sued R. G. Marcy for trademark infringement and won. R. G. Marcy changed the brand name of its windmills to “Red Cross.” When Rufus retired in January 1902, the firm became Marcy Manufacturing until October 1902, when it changed its name again to the Red Cross Manufacturing Company. Beginning in 1904, the Red Cross Company manufactured windmills for Sears, Roebuck and Company under its Kenwood brand. This relationship continued until Sears switched to another supplier in the 1920s. By 1923 the majority of the stock was in the hands of the Ullman family.

Red Cross Manufacturing added a wide range of farm products such as stock waterers and fountains to its line. When Prohibition was enacted in 1918, Red Cross introduced cider/fruit presses for home use. Bailers, conveyor belts, corn shellers, lawn mowers and lime spreaders carried the company from the 1930s through the 1960s. Baggage carriers for Allegheny and Piedmont airlines and Parti-Barge pontoon boats are among the company’s more unusual products. The company failed in 1975 when Sears selected another manufacturer for a line of shredder-baggers for garden use previously made by Red Cross Manufacturing.

A parts list for Red Cross fruit presses and crushers was among the material sent by Ms. Curry. “P31N” is the part number for the cross head of a Model Number 242.82 fruit press. The undated parts list provides part price information for four different models.

Auction fever is a dangerous and often expensive disease. You contracted a case of it at the auction you attended. In today’s world of antiques and collectibles, it pays to comparison shop. According to WorthPoint, a Red Cross wine press sold on eBay in April 2008 for $89.59. A similar example closed on eBay on March 17, 2011 for $64.99. An eBay seller had an example for sale on May 27 with an opening bid request of $50 and a “Buy It Now” price of $175. The only solace I can offer is that there are no fixed values in the antiques and collectibles field. An object’s value is momentary. At the moment you bought your Red Cross fruit press, it was worth $310.

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QUESTION: I bought an old reel lawn mower. The handle says “W. Bingham / Rainbow” on it. The patent date is 1923. I am restoring it and want to know the history and period color. Can you help?

– CS, via e-mail

ANSWER: Edwin Budding of Thrupp, a small town outside Stroud in Gloucestershire, England, developed the cylinder—known in the United States as the reel—mower in the late 1820s. His first British patent was granted on Aug. 31, 1830. Thomas Green introduced the first chain-driven lawn mower in 1859. Amariah Hills was granted the first United States patent for a reel lawn mower on Jan. 12, 1868. Most of these early cylinder/reel mowers were horse drawn, although human pushed examples were made. The next major innovation was the side wheel mechanism featuring cast iron wheels that contained ratchets inside the castings to drive the blades. Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Ind. is credited with creating the first commercially successful, lightweight, easy to push mower. See Ted Sternberg’s “American Green: The Quest for the Perfect Lawn” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2007) for a detailed history of reel and power mowers.

I found several Internet references to reel lawn mowers made by W. Bingham Company of Cleveland, Ohio. A YouTube posting shows a “Queen” model at work. I was not able to find any information about the “Rainbow” model.

William Bingham and Henry C. Blossom established a hardware store at the corner of Superior and Water (9th) Street in Cleveland in 1841. W. Bingham Co. was incorporated in 1888. In 1915, Bingham ended its retail operations and became a wholesaler, operating out of an industrial warehouse building designed by Walker and Weeks and located at 1278 West 9th Street. Bingham contracted with outside manufacturers to produce hardware tools and other equipment under the W. Bingham brand. At the peak of its operations in the 1940s, W. Bingham Company served 12 states. W. Bingham ceased its warehouse operations on June 15, 1961, a victim of the trading stamp and discount store craze. A group of employees bought the company and continued to wholesale tools, now without the W. Bingham brand.

While some reel mowers had painted wheels, most had varnished wooden handles and unpainted metal. The Cleveland Public Library or Case Western Reserve might have W. Bingham wholesale catalogs in their files. However, it is most likely that 1930s and earlier catalogs will be printed in black and white and be of little help determining if any color scheme was used on W. Bingham mowers.

While optimistic eBay sellers offer antique reel mowers with “Buy It Now” prices north of $50, most examples that sell through realize less than $20. Ten dollars is a high price at a local auction.

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QUESTION: I own the Franklin Mint 60 bronze Thomson Medallic Bible set. What is its value?

– J, Lehigh Valley, Pa.

ANSWER: A few months ago, I answered a similar question asking the value of the Franklin Mint’s Rembrandt collection medals. However, the medals in that set were sterling silver, a precious metal. These medals are made from bronze, a base or non-precious medal. To paraphrase Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” . . . and that makes all the difference.

The Franklin Mint issued its set of Thomson Medallic Bible between 1967 and 1970. The set took its inspiration from a historic set Sir Edward Thomas of England sculpted based on old master paintings. The sterling silver set (2,090 sets minted) sold for $570. The bronze set (9,031 sets minted) retailed at $158.

Franklin Mint is offering a sterling silver set for sale on its website for $3,797 plus $25 shipping—not a bad return on a $570 investment. Alas, Proxibid reports a bronze set sold at Affiliated Auctions & Realty in Tallahassee, Fla. on Oct. 24, 2009 for $50. In the somewhat better news department, Wickliff & Associates Auctioneers in Carmel, Ind. sold a set for $100 on Jan. 16, 2010. In the better-than-nothing news department, at least the bronze set has some value, even though it is around half the initial cost. If I was selling and someone offered me $50, I would kiss the hand, take the money and be thankful the medals were now the new buyer’s problem.

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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. 2011

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