Q & A with Harry Rinker: Dexterity Puzzles, ‘Treasure Chest’ Comic, 46-Star Flag

QUESTION: I have a group of “Popular Puzzles” marked R.J. Can you identify them for me? – TK, via e-mail

ANSWER: You own Journet dexterity puzzles. Robert Journet opened a toy shop near Paddington, London, in 1878. In the 1890s, Journet began manufacturing dexterity puzzles. Initially marketed in the United Kingdom, Journet expanded into the American market in 1918.

R. Journet & Co. designed more than 100 glass-top, metal case, dexterity puzzles. The firm was located at 201a Harrow Road, Paddington. The back of a Journet dexterity puzzle often contains a list of other puzzles in the company’s line.

When Robert Journet died, his son Frederick assumed control of the company. Abbey Corinthian Games purchased Journet in 1965. Production ceased in the 1970s.

Value depends on the puzzle, age, and condition. Many of the puzzles remained in production for decades. Post-1945 examples sell on eBay for as little as $1. Prices between $3 and $8 are common. I have seen older examples for sale at antiques malls and shows in the $15 to $35 range.


QUESTION: I have some old comic books that I checked out on eBay. However, I have one titled “Treasure Chest” from 1946 for which I could find no listing. Obviously, it must be worth a lot. Am I right?

– PT, Little Falls, Minn., via e-mail

ANSWER: There are two possibilities. You have only considered one, the one most advantageous to you. Your “Treasure Chest” comic also might be common and of such low value that it does not pay a seller to list it. Alas, the latter is the case.

“Treasure Chest”— the full name is “Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact”—was created by George A. Pflaum, a Dayton, Ohio publisher, for distribution to Catholic parochial school students. The first issued appeared on March 12, 1946. “Treasure Chest” was published biweekly during the school year. It was available only by subscription. There was no newsstand distribution. Slick covers were added in 1948. In the 1960s, “Treasure Chest” became a monthly. The only summer issues were printed in 1966 and 1967.

“Treasure Chest” was one of the longest running comic books to feature non-fiction. Contributors included Bernard Bailey, James O. Christiansen, Reed Crandall, Even Graham, Clara Elsene Peck, Bob Powell, Joe Sinnot and Ozella Welch. Issues featuring artwork by these comic book artists increase collector appeal. While an occasional sensational story—for example Crandall’s “The Godless Communism” series—appeared, the bulk of the content was wholesome in nature: kids in school, lives of saints and sports.

“Treasure Chest’s” popularity diminished in the mid-1960s. The last issue was July 1972. Although more than 500 issues were printed, most collectors, unless they grew up Catholic in the late 1940s through the late 1960s, never heard of it.

If you have one of the first issues in very good or better condition, its value is between $10 and $15. However, I am concerned that the 1946 date is a copyright date and not a volume number. Look carefully at the publisher’s information. There should be a volume and issue number—the higher the volume number, the lower the value. Again, the exceptions are those issues featuring stories by collectible comic book artist-writers. Most issues sell between $2 and $6 in very good or better condition.


QUESTION: I have a silk, 46-star flag that measures 46 by 32 inches. While the condition is good, it was folded for storage. What can you tell me about its history and how to best preserve it, and its value?

– JG, College Point, NY

ANSWER: Oklahoma, formed by combining the Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory, became the 46th state on Nov. 16, 1907. Flag fields changed on July 4 following the year of admission of a state. Hence, the 46-star flag was first “officially” flown on July 4, 1908. New Mexico joined the union as the 47th state on Jan. 6, 1912 and Arizona as the 48th state on Feb. 12, 1912. Hence, the final day for the 46-star flag was July 3, 1912. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) and William H. Taft (1909-13) served under the 46-star flag.

Forty-six-star flags are more difficult to find than 45-star flags, which flew for 12 years, and 48-star flags that served as the official flag for 47 years. The 49-star flag signifying the admission of Alaska existed for only one year, July 4, 1959 to July 3, 1960. It is not as desirable among collectors as the 46-star flag.

Stop folding the flag. If you have the space, lay the flag flat on a piece of acid free mat board. The creasing should lessen over time. You might consider covering the flag with a second piece of acid free mat board and applying a “little” weight, perhaps one layer of hardback novels.

Resist the temptation to wash and/or iron the flag. If you decide to clean the flag, have this done by a textile conservator, not your local dry cleaner. Your local museum or historical society should be able to provide you with a list of textile conservators in your area.

If you cannot store the flag flat, roll the flag around a thick mailing or carpet tube. Sandwich the flag between two pieces of acid free tissue before beginning the rolling process. Store the flag in a dark area, for example a closet. Do not—repeat NOT—put the flag into a plastic bag of any sort. If you wish to encase the rolled flag, use a linen, king-size pillow cover. The goal is to keep the flag free of dust.

Light is an enemy. When displaying the flag, minimize its contact with direct sunlight. It is best to avoid contact at all with direct sunlight. If framing it, consider using UV (ultra violet) reducing glass.

Humidity and temperature also are concerns. Do not store the flag in an attic or basement. Avoid any area where humidity and temperature fluctuate between extremes. Silk and other fabric flags prefer humidity between 55 and 65 percent. If you are comfortable where the flag is stored, chances are it is as well.

If you wish to display your flag, have a piece of acid free mat board cut to dimensions that add between a 1 ½- and 2-inch border. Obtain a piece of unbleached muslin and create/sew a pocket to house the acid free mat board. Using a very thin thread, thinner than silk if possible, sew the flag to the unbleached muslin. Once done, create a mat to fit on top. Frame this sandwich. This technique creates minimal strain on the fabric and prevents the fabric from touching the glass of the frame.

Flag value depends on a great many factors such as material, size, and condition. The photograph that accompanied your letter suggests your flag is in very good condition. Silk flags are common. The value of your flag is between $30 and $40. The cost of preservation and proper matting and framing will far exceed this amount.


QUESTION: I have a number of Franklin Mint silver medals from the Rembrandt collection. However, I do not have the complete set. Do they have collector value or just melt value? How much silver is in each medal?

– J, via e-mail

ANSWER: The Franklin Mint issued its Rembrandt’s Genius Medals set between 1972 and 1976. The complete set consists of 50 medals in a wooden cabinet. Each metal depicted one of Rembrandt’s artwork in high relief.

Each metal is sterling silver with a mintage of .9887 silver. The medals measure 51mm in diameter. The weight of each medal is 1,000 grains which translates into 2.28571429 ounces. The entire set contains 104 ounces of silver. The initial cost for each medal was $17, and the set price was $850.

The web site Franklin Mint Silver is currently selling the full set for $4,849, plus $74 for shipping. This is an average price of slightly more than $98 per medal.

On April 27, 2011, the silver bullion price was $47.77. At this value, the value of a single medal is just over $98.50. Of course, no one is going to pay bullion price.

Several examples sold recently on eBay in the $70 range. A dealer posted a “Buy It Now” price of $123.40. He is a candidate for my Optimist Dealer of the Month award. WorthPoint’s Worthopedia contains a listing for a full set that sold in October 2007 for $1,277.77. The bullion price of silver then was about one-third of what it is today.

Your Franklin Mint Rembrandt medals have no collector value. Their value rests solely on the current bullion price of silver. If you are considering selling them for melt, now is the time.


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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