Q & A with Harry Rinker: Curtis-Lee Mansion Lithograph, Nabisco Pro Face Cards

A lithograph print of the Curtis-Lee Mansion, also known as Arlington House, located in the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. John Ross Key, the grandson of Francis Scott Key, did the lithograph.

QUESTION: I own a lithograph print of the Curtis-Lee Mansion, also known as Arlington House, located in the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. John Ross Key, the grandson of Francis Scott Key, did the lithograph. The print is framed and measures 25 ½ inches by 13 ½ inches. What is its value?

– D, Quincy, Ky., via e-mail

ANSWER: John Ross Key (1831-1920) was born in Hagerstown, Md. His grandfather, Francis Scott Key, who lived in Washington, D.C., helped raise him. As a youth, John Ross Key gained a reputation as a proficient sketch artist. In the 1850s, he worked for the United States Coast Survey as a topographical artist and draftsman. James McNeill Whistler was a colleague. In 1859, John Ross Key was the cartographer for the Lander Expedition to Nevada, Wyoming, and California. During the Civil War, he joined the Confederate forces. From 1863 to 1865, he recorded battle scenes around Charleston, S.C. After the Civil War, Key established residence in Baltimore, exhibiting works at the National Academy of Design and the Corcoran Gallery. In 1869, he moved to San Francisco, using it as a base for his travels to paint California landscapes. Forever on the move, he went to Europe from 1873 to 1876, studying art in Paris and Munich. His “The Golden Gate” was exhibited at the 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia. He resided in Boston for the balance of his artistic career and spent his last years in Baltimore.

The Federal Government acquired ownership of Arlington House and its grounds on Jan. 11, 1864, when sold for back taxes. Brigadier General Montgomery C. Meigs appropriated the grounds on June 15, 1864, for use as a military cemetery.

The Scott image is a romantic portrayal of the home and its surroundings, clearly demonstrating Scott’s Southern sympathies. The photograph that accompanies your email suggests that there is some color fading, somewhat of a surprise for a late 19th- or early 20th-century lithograph print whose inks often are impervious to discoloring.

Value depends on where the print is sold. It has more perceived value in the South than the North. Since you live in Kentucky, the Arlington Mansion lithograph print’s value is between $65 and $75.

Some 1974 Nabisco Sugar Daddy Vintage Speedway & Pro Faces cards.

QUESTION: I have a Series 1 set of 25 Nabisco Pro Face cards which I acquired by eating Sugar Mama candy suckers. The backs indicate there is a poster to which they could be applied. I do not own it. I am having trouble finding information about this sport card series. What information can you provide?

– CA, Reading, Pa.

ANSWER: Between 1974 and 1976, Nabisco issued sets of sports cards inside Sugar Daddy and Sugar Mama candy suckers. In 1974 and 1975, Nabisco produced a series of Pro Faces and Sugar Daddy All-Stars cards each year. In 1976, there were two generic sets of “Sugar Daddy Sports World” cards. The cards measured 1 by 2 ¾ inches.

The 1974 Pro Faces set featured 10 National Football League players, seven National Hockey League players and eight National Basketball Association players. The front of the card has a photograph of the star’s head mounted on a cartoon uniformed body. The head size was exaggerated. The solid background colors varied.

The backs contained career and personal information and featured a sticky substance that allowed the cards to be placed on a wall-mount poster. There also was a Series 1 notation and a card number.

Using a variety of Internet sources, I constructed the following Series 1 list. Alphabetically, the cards included: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (25); John Brockington (8); Bobby Douglas (5); Phil Esposito (11); Reggie Fleming; Roman Gabriel (4); John Gilliam (6); Connie Hawkins (20); Dennis Hull (12); Spencer Haywood (18); Jerry Korab (16); Greg Landry (10); Floyd Little (2); Bob Lilly (7); Calvin Murphy (24); Steve Owens (3); Jim Plunkett (9); Mickey Redmond; Oscar Robinson (17); Roger Staubach (1); Nat Thurman (21); Gary Unger (14); Chet Walker (23); and Jo Jo White (19). This is 24 of the 25 players featured on the cards.

Ordered numerically: 1-Roger Staubach; 2-Floyd Little; 3-Steve Owens; 4-Roman Gabriel; 5-Bobby Douglas; 6-John Gilliam; 7-Bob Lilly; 8-John Brockington; 9-Jim Plunkett; 10-Greg Landry; 11-Phil Esposito; 12-Dennis Hull; 13-Unkown; 14-Gary Unger; 15-Unkown; 16-Jerry Korab; 17-Oscar Robinson; 18-Unknown; 19-Jo Jo White; 20-Connie Hawkins; 21-Nat Thurman; 22-Unkown; 23-Chet Walker; 24-Calvin Murphy; and 25-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I was not able to determine numbers for Reggie Fleming and Mickey Redmond.

The James O. Welch Company introduced Sugar Mamas in 1965 as a companion to Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddy, first introduced as the Papa Sucker in 1925 and changed to Sugar Daddy in 1932. Sugar Mamas wrappers had a yellow body with red letters. Sugar Mamas were chocolate-covered caramel suckers, essentially a Sugar Daddy with a chocolate coating.

Nabisco (National Biscuit Company) purchased the James O. Welch Company in 1935. Nabisco sold the Welsh brands to Warner-Lambert in 1988 who later sold them to Tootsie Roll Industries in 1993. Although Tootsie Roll still manufactures Sugar Daddy, Sugar Mama was last produced in the 1980s.

Condition plays a major role in the value of Nabisco Pro Face sports cards. Cards in very good condition sell as low as $8 to $10 each, while cards in mint condition can reach $25 to $30. Cards for those individuals who are members of their sport’s Hall of Fame command more. Full sets range from $200 to $275 depending on condition. I was not able to find any pricing information on the wall chart.

QUESTION: I found six Bicentennial kites in my parents’ closet in Gladewater, Texas. They were manufactured by Crunden-Martin Manufacturing Company in St. Louis, Mo. Are these items which would interest collectors?

– JR, via e-mail

ANSWER: Crunden-Martin of St. Louis, Mo., was the result of an 1891 merger between Udell & Crunden and the Martin Wood Ware Company. In addition to making wooden ware products such as bread bowls, buckets, casks and tubs, the company produced baby carriages, go karts, furniture specialties, and toys. During the Second World War, Crunden-Martin made buckets, five gallon gasoline cans, and helmets. In the 1950s, it became one of the leading manufacturers of paper kites, sold under the Top Flite brand name. Kite production continued until 1990 when Crunden-Martin filed for bankruptcy. The doors closed for good in November 1990.

Had I continued my practice of creating a new collection each month, a period of madness I experienced between 2000 and 2005, sooner or later I would have started a kite collection. If memory serves, there are a few kites among the collectibles still at The School, the former Vera Cruz (Pa.) Elementary School that once housed the headquarters of Rinker Enterprises.

I see kites dating from the mid-1920s through the 1980s at antiques and collectibles flea markets and malls. With a few exceptions, they are priced under $20. Hence, collecting older kites is affordable. Kites given away as advertising premiums are the ones that most fascinate me. Now I remember, I own a Morris the Cat kite. All I have to do is find it.

America is closer to its 250th anniversary celebration in 2026 than its 1976 Bicentennial. I saved very little from the Bicentennial. Products were produced in such great quantities that I felt supply would always exceed demand. The low prices for most Bicentennial objects selling on eBay prove my point.

In late January 2013, an eBay seller tried to sell a Top Flite Eagle Bicentennial kite. The requested opening bid was $4.99. There were no bidders. The value of the kites that you found is minimal. If anyone offers you $3 to $4 each, take the money and run as fast as you can.

QUESTION: I own a pair of Tom Mix spurs that I received as a premium in either 1935 or 1936. The yoke and neck (shank) frame is a lightweight metal, possibly aluminum. The rowel (revolving wheel with radiating points) is plastic. The leather strap is missing. What are my spurs worth?

– BH, Reading, Pa.

ANSWER: In 1933, Tom Mix, “King of the Cowboys,” granted Ralston Purina permission to produce a radio show utilizing his name. The Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters debuted on September 25, 1933. Mix himself never appeared on the show. Artelis Dickson (early 1930s), Jack Holden (from 1937), Russell Thorsen (early 1940s) and Joe “Curley” Bradley (from 1944) voiced Mix. The first two years of the show were broadcast from New York City. After that, Chicago was the show’s home. It last aired in June 1950.

These Tom Mix spurs were issued as a premium by Ralston Purina in 1935. They sold at auction for $345 in 2007.

The “Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters” checkerboard diamond logo is stamped on the leather straps of the spurs.

Ralston Purina issued a number of Tom Mix premiums. The list included a compass pinback, numerous badges such as a gold ore badge, decoder button, hat, ring, and a secret litho tin telephone set.

In January 2007, Hake’s Americana and Collectibles auction included Lot 1876: “Tom Mix Spurs . . . 1935 Ralston Premium. Pair of 2.5 x 4.5” metal brackets with cowhide leather fastener straps . . .” The spurs sold for $345.

In March 2013, an eBay seller listed a pair of spurs without the leather straps at a “Buy It Now” price of $46.71 and $7.50 shipping. How the seller came up with that specific price is beyond me. A realistic fair market value for your spurs is between $35 and $40. The number of individuals who remember Tom Mix, let alone collect Tom Mix memorabilia, decrease every day. The value of Tom Mix memorabilia, with a few exceptions, has declined continually since the year 2000.

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. 2013

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