Q & A with Harry Rinker: Goebel Figurine, Ocean Liner Silver-plate, ‘EROS’ magazine

QUESTION: I have a Goebel figurine featuring a baby boy standing over a turtle. The trademark on the bottom, identical to the logo used on Hummel figurines, indicates the piece was made between 1972 and 1979. The bottom also has the initials “da.” All efforts to find out more about this piece have failed. Can you be of any help?

– KS, via e-mail

ANSWER: Franz Detleff Goebel, a porcelain merchant, and his son William founded Goebel in 1871. The firm, located in Oeslau (later renamed Rödental), Germany, initially made slate pencils and children’s marbles. Franz and William asked the Duke of Coburg for permission to build a porcelain factory. Fearing a fire, the Duke said no. Franz and William persisted and prevailed. Goebel produced its first porcelain pieces in 1879.

Goebel specialized in producing dinnerware and figurines. When the Depression struck, the firm expanded its product line to include ashtrays, bookends, candleholders and lamps. In March 1935 Goebel launched its line of M.I. Hummel figurines.

Although Hummel figurines were only one of many Goebel product lines, they are the focus of almost all research efforts. Finding information about Chariot Byj’s “Red Heads,” “Co-Boy” figurines, Blumenkinder, Friar Tuck and other Goebel lines made during the 1970s is difficult.

Since no pictures accompanied your e-mail, I cannot provide further help. You might have one of Chariot Byj’s “Red Heads” (there are more than 100 child figures in the series) or “Blondes” (16 figures in the series). The Blumenkinder series depicts boys and/or girls experiencing common events.

Send a picture of your figurine to the Goebel Porzellanmuseum (Coburger Strasse 7, Rödental Germany) and ask them to provide the history of your piece. If this fails, then consider a trip to Rödental to do your own research.


QUESTION: I recently purchased a handled, small, silver-plated bowl on a pedestal base. I would not have given it much thought, but the “R.M.S. SAXONIA” engraved on its side attracted my interest. Are items from 1940s/1950s ocean liners collectible?

– IA, Toronto, Canada, via e-mail

ANSWER: On February 17, 1954, Cunard Lines launched the 21,637 gross-ton RMS Saxonia, one of the last ships built for the transatlantic passenger trade. Lady Winston Churchill christened the ship. This was the second ship in the Cunard fleet that utilized this name; the first RMS Saxonia was built in 1905 and retired in 1925.

In 1962 the RMS Saxonia was refitted and renamed the RMS Carmania. The liner traveled the Caribbean and Mediterranean in the winter and spent the balance of the year on the Rotterdam-Southampton-Canada runs. Due to changes in U.S. fire regulations for passenger ships, the RMS Carmania had to cancel a 1968 trip from Port Everglades. Renovations were made, and the ship left Port Everglades in January 1969 only to run aground on a sandbank off San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. Three months later it collided with the Frunze, a Russian vessel.

Black Sea Shipping, a Russian company, bought the ship in August 1973 and renamed it Leonid Sobinov. It ended its service in October 1995 registered to Valletta of Malta.

Ocean liner passengers frequently borrowed or liberated (polite terms for lifted or stole) table accessories such as creamers, napkin holders, sugars, salt and pepper shakers, or similar smalls. Perhaps this is why transoceanic companies preferred silver plate rather than sterling as the metal of choice for tableware accessories.

Secondary market value rests primarily on the reputation of the ship. Whatever knowledge I may have had about the RMS Saxonia was lost until my Google search. The value of your silver-plated bowl is between $20 and $25, perhaps a little more to a collector of Cunard liner items.

Ocean liner memorabilia was a hot collectible in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The market has cooled considerably, caused in part by the end of the golden age of transoceanic liner travel. Few are willing to invest seven days in an Atlantic crossing that can now be done in seven to nine hours in the air.


TRIVIA QUESTION: What does RMS stand for when used in a ship’s title?


QUESTION: I have copies of the first four issues of “EROS” magazine. The issues have a hard rather than soft cover. Do they have any value?

– DF, Fargo, ND

ANSWER: Ralph Ginzberg edited “EROS,” a quarterly hard cover magazine devoted to eroticism. Volume One, Number One was issued on Valentine’s Day 1962. Only four issues of the magazine were published. “EROS” is tame by today’s sexual standards. However, it created a major controversy at the time.

“EROS,” named for the Greek god of love and desire, was part of the 1960s sexual revolution. Contributors included Albert Ellis, Nat Hentoff, and Arthur Herzog. Topics covered a wide variety of sexual issues in areas such as art, history, literature and politics. Herb Lubalin, a leading typrographer/art director of the era, created the layouts. Ginsburg pushed the envelope of propriety by publishing Ralph M. Hattersley, Jr.’s interracial love photo essay as well as Bert Stern’s portfolio of a nude Marilyn Monroe.

Ginzberg’s three million direct-mail circulars promoting the magazine caused a bigger stir than the magazine. The Postmaster General received more than 25,000 letters of complaint. Ginzberg was charged with “sending obscene matter through the mails” in violation of the 1873 Comstock Act. In December 1963, Ginzberg was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. Appeals delayed his incarceration for 10 years. He began serving his five-year sentence at the Lewisburg (Pa.) Penitentiary on Feb. 17, 1972. He was paroled eight months later.

Sets of the four “EROS” issues are very common. It is not the type of publication that subscribers tended to discard once they finished reading it. Number 1, 2, and 4 list for around $30 per volume. Number 3, the issue containing the Marilyn Monroe photographs, books for around $90. Full sets sell at a reduced rate as opposed to a premium. Asking prices range from $90 to $120. They are a tough sell. Every collector who wants a set has one. New collectors wait to buy until they find a set at a bargain price. As time passes, “EROS” will become but a footnote in the history of the 1960s-1970s sexual revolution and Ralph Ginzberg largely forgotten.


QUESTION: My father died and left me a collection of a dozen Frederic Remington bronze statues, one of which has a label reading “Frederic Remington / Coming Thru the Rye.” He acquired them over the years at auctions and local art galleries. Do they have any value?

– AR, Buffalo, NY

ANSWER: Let’s start with basics. The chances of your father’s Frederic Remington sculptures being period pieces are somewhere between slim and none. They are reproductions. Assuming this, the only questions remaining are (1) the quality of the reproductions and (2) their resale value.

Reproductions of Remington sculptures have existed for decades. They were a popular “salted” auction item in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Most were made by a reproduction bronze casting manufacturer located near Chattanooga, Tenn. “Salted” is a term used when an auctioneer adds newly purchased reproductions (exact copies), copycats (stylistic reproductions) and fakes (items deliberately meant to deceive) to an estate auction hoping buyers will assume that the new items are part of the estate and, hence, older than they really are.

Several contemporary bronze manufacturers offer reproduction copies of Remington’s “Coming Thru the Rye,” as well as several dozen of his other sculptures. Bronze Works sells a 29-inch-by-28-inch version for $1,899 or a “museum quality” version for $3,299. F & R Bronze lists a 29-inch-by-30-inch version for $2,737, but discounts it at $2.295. Bronze Direct offers a 30-inch-by-30-inch version for $2,500.

The issue is not what these reproductions sell for new, but what they achieve in the secondary market. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I encountered a Craigslist listing by a Houston seller asking $3,750 for a “collector edition,” #44 of #100, of “Coming Thru the Rye.” You never know; there are plenty of fools out there.

When reproduction Remington statues appear on the secondary market, anything over a dime on the initial purchase dollar makes the seller a winner. The quality of these Remington reproductions is poor to fair at best. Their only value is decorative. They are not—repeat NOT—works of art, no matter what the certificate of authenticity that accompanies many of them states.

The good news is that these statues do sell at 10 to 15 cents on the dollar on eBay. At the moment, the collection of Remington reproductions in your basement is worthless, until you decide to sell. Whatever you get when you sell them is more money than you have now. My advice is to send them to a reputable auctioneer or list them on eBay and to let them ride.


TRIVIA QUESTION ANSWER: RMS means Royal Mail Ship, a designation used by the British for a ship authorized to carry British and US mail.


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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