Q & A with Harry Rinker: Weather Bird Shoes Box of Marbles Premium

Weather Bird Shoes offered other marble premiums. One was a mesh bag containing more than a dozen marbles. Another was a cloth pouch featuring the Weather Bird Shoes logo designed to hold marbles.

QUESTION: I have a box of five marbles I received as a premium when purchasing a pair of Weather Bird Shoes. The top of the oblong box has the Weather Bird shoes rooster logo flanking an oblong opening showing four of the marbles. The side reads: “WEATHER BIRD SHOES / BEST FOR BOYS….BEST FOR GIRLS.” What is this worth?

– M.Y., Sandy, Utah, via e-mail

ANSWER: The Peter’s Shoes Company, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, used the Weather Bird logo from 1907 to 1932. The company issued a wide range of promotional items, ranging from comic books to postcards to whistles.

Researching this question brought back a flood of childhood memories. My mother favored Buster Brown shoes, manufactured by the Brown Shoe Company, which licensed the use of Richard Outcault’s Buster Brown cartoon character in 1904. Before a sale was concluded, children were asked to step up to the shoe-fitting fluoroscope machine which produced an x-ray image of your feet showing how your feet fit within the shoes. The fluoroscope was a sales gimmick. The fit of a shoe depends on flesh size, something the machine could not measure nor demonstrate. Once a sale was concluded, it was premium time. Encountering a Buster Brown shoe premium in my travels always brings a smile to my face.

This Weather Bird Shoes premium contained five marbles.

The phrase “WEATHER BIRD SHOES / BEST FOR BOYS….BEST FOR GIRLS” was used for Weather Bird Shoes.

According to one source, The Peltier Marble Company made Weather Bird’s rainbow marble premium. Another source indicated the boxes contained Akro corkscrew marbles. It is possible Weather Bird Shoes contracted with more than one company. Equally probable is that a dealer switched the marble type to create a rarity that never existed historically.

The marbles were approximately 5/8 inches in diameter. WorthPoint’s Worthopedia includes prices realized for several sales of boxes of Weather Bird Shoes marbles. Values range from $13 to $25.

Weather Bird Shoes offered other marble premiums. One was a mesh bag containing more than a dozen marbles. Another was a cloth pouch featuring the Weather Bird Shoes logo designed to hold marbles.

QUESTION: My brother will soon celebrate his 80th birthday. Our father worked for Prudential Insurance. In the late 1930s or sometime in the 1940s, he gave my brother and me Prudential Savings Banks, both of which have been lost over time. The bank had the appearance of a miniature book. I would like to gift my brother with one of these banks on his birthday. How can I acquire one?

– R. Mahwah, N.J.

ANSWER: The quickest method is an “Advanced Search” on eBay using: Prudential +coin bank. My search resulted in two “Buy It Now” listings, one for $39 and the second for $75.

The first listing attributes the bank to Zell Products of New York. Zell made leather-covered metal promotional banks for businesses and banks. The earliest examples date from the late 1930s. The company continued to produce this type of bank through the mid to late 1950s. I still own the example I received in the late 1940s/early 1950s from the Saucon Valley Trust Company in Hellertown, Pa.. The bank kept the key. I had no choice but to deposit the money into a savings account.

Avoid the $39 bank on eBay. It is damaged and does not have a key. A locksmith will charge between $10 and $25 to make a replacement key. The $75 bank has minor condition problems, but nowhere to the extent as $39 bank. Since the seller of the $75 bank does not mention a key, assume there is none.

The $75 seller has a “Make Offer” option. I would offer $60, a more than fair price. However, if you want it badly and do not want to devote additional time to the hunt, pay the $75. Beware of one issue: the $75 seller does not provide a shipping and handling cost, rather stating “Shipping & Handling: Calculated based on Buyer’s mailing address.” Dealers often use the “handling” cost to add to their profit. If you pay the full $75, ask the dealer to absorb the shipping and handling costs. If you agree on a lesser price and the S & H costs exceed $10, walk away from the deal. Any S & H cost more than $10 is price gouging.

QUESTION: My father Joe Fortenberry was the captain of the winning USA basketball team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I have his gold medal. Were the medals made of solid gold at that time? I was offered $30,000 for the medal within the past year. Is this a fair offer?

– O.F., via e-mail

ANSWER: Medals awarded at the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first of the modern games, consisted of a silver first-place medal and a bronze second place medal. In 1900, trophy cups rather than medals were issued. Solid gold first-place medals were issued for the Summer Olympics in 1904, 1908 and 1912. However, these were small in size. Starting with the 1916 games, the “gold” medals had a sterling silver base and were gold plated. The modern requirements are that a gold medal be 3 mm thick, at least 60 mm in diameter, 9.25 silver and plated with at least six grams of gold.

The medal design from 1928 through 1936 was identical—the obverse a generic design by Guiseppe Cassioli, a Florentine artist, and a text indicating the name of the host city; the reverse with a generic design of an Olympic champion.

Basketball was introduced as a sport at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The 1936 competition featured 23 nations, the largest number of nations to compete in any team sport. The games were played outdoors on lawn tennis courts. The United States played Canada in the finals. Thanks to pouring rain and a dirt court, dribbling proved impossible. Although there were no seats, close to 2,000 spectators attended. The United States won 19-8, with team captain Joe Fortenberry scoring seven points.

TRIVA QUIZ: How many players appeared on the court for each team in the 1936 Olympics? The answer is not five.

The United States team consisted of 14 players—one college player from the University of Washington and the remainder from two semiprofessional teams, the McPherson Globe Refiners from Kansas and Universal Pictures from Hollywood, California. An Olympic rule barring players taller than 6 feet, 2 inches was rescinded after a complaint from the United States. Four American players exceeded the 6-feet, 2-inch rule.

While $30,000 is a great deal of money and I am tempted to apply the old adages of “not looking a gift horse in the mouth” and “take the money and run,” I urge caution. This Olympic medal has multiple significances, not the least of which are the first awarded for basketball and the first won by an American. My gut tells me its value is far in excess of this amount.

My advice is to keep the Olympic medal in the family. However, if there are no heirs or multiple heirs squabbling over the potential monetary value, then a disposal method needs to be considered. Consider approaching the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Obviously, the museum would like you to donate the medal and take a charitable tax deduction. On the other hand, if you are in need of money, consider agreeing upon a purchase price that satisfies the museum and you and give the museum an opportunity to raise the funds within a fixed period of time.

If you decide to auction the medal, I would approach several sports specialty auction houses. Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, and Legendary Auctions in Lansing, Ill., would be the tops on my list. Since you do not have experience dealing with auction houses, consider hiring the services of a collection(s) dispersal specialist to advise you.

QUESTION: I have an autographed first edition of James Michener’s “Hawaii.” What is it worth?

– M, Altoona, Pa.

ANSWER: The first thing that needs to be determined is exactly what edition and printing of the book you have. When “Hawaii” was issued in 1959, American book collectors were first-edition conscious. The print run was large. Sales were brisk. The book went back on press quickly. Hence, a true first edition has to be first edition, first printing. A first edition, second or subsequent printing is worth less. Likewise, a book club first edition is different from a bookstore first edition. Collectors want the bookstore first edition.

The book was issued with a dust jacket. This has to be present and in fine or better condition for the book to have maximum value.

First edition, first printing non-autographed copies of “Hawaii” with a dust jacket are available on abebooks.com, starting at $50 for a copy in good condition. Copies in fine or better condition are priced at $100 and up.

Michener did a signed, numbered edition of 400 copies of “Hawaii” when it was first published. Copies from this series begin on abebooks.com at $550 and end at $1,500, depending on condition. The asking price for signed first editions of “Hawaii” range from $325 to $400.

All this assumes the signature in your book is authentic. If you did not see Michener sign it nor have strong provenance associated with how the signature was obtained, do not be surprised if a buyer is hesitant and skeptical. Fake signatures are a major concern in the antiquarian book marketplace.

TRIVIA QUIZ ANSWER: Each team consisted of seven players with no substitutions allowed. Gold medals were awarded only to those who actually played in the finals. Hence, only seven of the 14 players on the American team received gold medals –the six members of the team from McPherson Globe Refiners and Ralph Bishop, the collegian from the University of Washington.

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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