Q & A with Harry Rinker: World’s Fair Doll, Jefferson Bible, Heileman Brewery Ad

QUESTION: Several years ago I purchased a Charlie McCarthy-type composition-head doll. Printed on the left pocket area of the doll’s orange jacket is “NEW / YORK / WORLD / FAIR / (Trylon and Perisphere logo flanked by ‘1939’) / © NYWF.” There is a pull string that extends from the back of the head that allows the doll’s lips to move. It no longer works. The composition head is deteriorating. What information can you provide about this doll and its value?

– AD, Youngstown, Ohio

ANSWER: My reference library, which contains several books about World’s Fair memorabilia and the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair memorabilia in particular, is currently packed in boxes in the auditorium of my home/school in Vera Cruz, Pa. As a result, I had to rely on the Internet, not always the best information source.

Harry RinkerI did not find any reference to this specific doll. However, I discovered that the 1939-1940 World’s Fair Committee issued several licenses for “official” World’s Fair dolls. Further, many of the foreign pavilions sold native-costume dolls in their gift shops.

The pictures that accompanied your e-mail alleviated any doubts I may have had that this was not an officially licensed doll. The jacket color is ample proof. Orange and blue are the dominant colors found on 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair memorabilia. The orange of the doll’s jacket is an exact match to the Fair’s orange color tone.

Thanks to Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, who were at the peak of their popularity in the mid- to late 1930s, ventriloquism was enjoying a renaissance. “The Home Workshop” section of the June 1938 issue of “Modern Mechanix” contained Kenneth Murray’s article entitled “Popsy: A Simply Made but very lifelike dummy for the amateur ventriloquist.” It only makes sense that the New York World’s Fair Committee would license a ventriloquist doll.

The tragedy is the condition of the doll’s head. It is beyond repair. Not only is it cracked but the back half appears to be splitting off from the front half.

When encountering an object in this condition, you should walk away no matter how alluring it may seem. The only value in respect to the doll you own is its clothing. It can be switched to a World’s Fair doll whose head and body are in better condition, but whose clothing is badly faded or torn.

Its worth at the moment is under $25. In very good condition, the doll is valued between $125 and $150.


QUESTION: My father has a Jefferson Bible. The last time I visited him in Oregon, I asked him to show it to me. I believe it is one of the 9,000 copies distributed in 1904. He paid a dollar for it at an antiques shop. I have no idea how much it is worth, but have a feeling that it should be insured. Can you help?

– RP, Lehigh Valley, Pa., via e-mail

ANSWER: Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1783 – July 4, 1826), third president of the United States, had a strong interest in ethics, morals, philosophy, and Christianity, which he referred to as the “Christian System.” He was a deist, believing in the power of a supreme being as the creator and man’s ability to use reason and observation of the world about him to understand his divinity. Christ was a great teacher, but not the son of God.

Jefferson cut apart the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and arranged the texts in chronological order. The result was his “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” completed in 1820. While Jefferson showed it to a few friends, he never published it.

The manuscript eventually came into the possession of Thomas Jefferson Randolph, his grandson. Working with the National Museum in Washington, he published Jefferson’s work in 1895. In 1904 Congress authorized a new edition. New members of Congress received a copy. Eventually Jefferson’s text entered the public domain. More than a dozen editions are in print today, for examples, a 2004 Akashic Books paperback, 2006 Applewood Books hardcover, and a 2006 Dover Publications paperback.

The 1904 Congressional edition was published by the Government Printing office. There are reference points that indicate that your example is not the 1904 Congressional edition. First, the publisher is Geo. W. Ogilvie & Co. of Chicago. Second, the title page clearly indicated that your book is a “reprint,” something the Congressional edition does not do. The advertisements in the back, such as the one for “Conklin’s Vest-Pocket Argument Settler,” would never appear in a government publication. Finally, it is the wrong size, binding style, and cover color.

Your example, however, is one of the early editions, most likely printed before 1915. The pictures attached to your e-mail indicate the book is in poor to fair condition.

1904 Congressional editions in good condition or better usually retail on the secondary market for $750 or more. Your edition has a secondary market value between $40 and $50. Professionally rebound, its value will double, possibly even triple.


QUESTION: In the past, you answered an e-mail question from “VK” about a G. Heileman Brewing Company advertising piece featuring a printed image on canvas of a French Cavalier holding a bottle of beer in one hand and a full glass in salute in the other. I have the same print on canvas. I acquired it about 12 years ago when the dad of an old girlfriend who had it hanging in his basement passed away. I do not know when he obtained it, but I believe he had it as far back as the 1950s or earlier. I recently came across Paul Koeller’s and David DeLano’s “Brewed with Style: The Story of the House of Heileman.” The image is pictured in the book. My print is in a copper-colored cheap wood frame. I have searched the Internet and cannot find another example with the frame. My question is simple. If I removed the print and had it professionally framed in a nicer frame, would this deter from the print’s value?

– JG, via e-mail

ANSWER: The answer is yes, if the frame on the print on canvas is period—that is to say, started out life with the print. If the print was framed initially, the frame is an integral part of the complete unit. If the frame is missing, the print is considered incomplete.

This was barroom and beer distributor advertising, made to hang on a wall for a few years and then discarded. While well made, it was done as cheaply as possible.

The color tones of the late 1950s were turquoise, copper, and chrome. Hence, the copper color on the frame is a strong hint that the frame is period.

My recommendation is to continue your research and do nothing to the print and its frame. If after another year or two you can find no evidence that the frame is period, then replace it.

How about a little help from the G. Heileman Brewing Company collectors among my readers? Is the frame period or not? E-mail the answer to me at harrylrinker@aol.com.


QUESTION: I have a “Carigas Emergency Gasoline Can” that my Dad gave me approximately 35 years ago. As I recall, he mentioned that it came with a Model A or Model T Ford. I am not certain which one he specified. He carried it behind the seat in the event he ran out of gas. I checked for this item on eBay and was unable to find anything like it. Any information that you can offer regarding its resale value would be greatly appreciated.

– WT, Lehigh Valley, Pa., via e-mail

Ask A WorthologistANSWER: This is one of those cases where I know what you have, but I do not know what you have. As indicated by the images that accompanied your e-mail, a label on the can reads: Aetna Sales Co. / Baltimore.” My first thought was that the Aetna Insurance Company used the can as a form of advertising. In 1913 Aetna established its Automobile Insurance Company for the purpose of writing fire insurance on cars. But, is it the correct Aetna?

Google research resulted in a number of hits for an Aetna Oil Company, which was based primarily in Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois and was part of Ashland after a 1948 merger. I found sale listings for several Aetna Oil Company maps and other memorabilia. None had a logo that was remotely close to the one on your can.

I failed to find any information on an Aetna Sales Co. located in Baltimore. However, I did find a WorthPoint.com reference for an almost identical can. The can pictured on WorthPoint.com had an extra information strip beneath the Aetna Sales Co. logo. The listing indicated the can was patented on March 3, 1925. The color scheme of the can, red background with yellow and black label information, is a typical Art Deco color pattern.

I also was not able to establish if this emergency gas can was standard equipment on a Ford Model A. I strongly suspect that it was not.

After reviewing the pictures you sent, your “Carigas Emergency Gasoline Can” is in fair to good condition. Its secondary market retail value is between $15 and $20. Its wholesale value is around $6.00 to $8.00. The principal buyer is someone who owns a Ford Model A and wishes to acquire the can to add a bit of ambiance to his car presentation.


Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out his 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: http://www.harryrinker.com.

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. Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 22 Stillwater Circle, Brookfield, CT 06804. 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. 2010

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