Q & A with Harry Rinker: ‘Early Junk’ Chair, Dale Earnhardt Die-Cast Car
This chair in “early junk” style features a rush-seat and spindles featuring twisted rope-like turnings. To repair it would take $150 to $200, more than it would be worth.
QUESTION: Between 40 and 50 years ago, when my mother was collecting “early junk,” she purchased a rush-seat arm chair that has arms, legs and spindles featuring twisted rope-like turnings. It looks as though the chair was made in the late 19th or early 20th century and manufactured. Can you identify the style and period when it was made?
– LJ, Lincoln City, Ore.
ANSWER: Furniture manufacturers of the late Victoria era had no problem mixing and matching design styles. The twist rope-like turnings are identified with the Elizabethan Revival, although Queen Elizabeth I never sat in a chair that remotely resembled the one you own. The plain back crest is from the second Gothic Revival. The lattice work to support a pillow has an Arts & Crafts feel.
You are correct in assuming the piece is factory made. The modest quality of the turnings and overall shape of the chair confirm this.
I date conservatively. While it is possible that your chair was made in the 1890s, it is far more likely to date from the 1905 to 1915 period. The style is definitely pre-World War I.
The damage to the rush seat means that the value of the chair as it currently stands is minimal. The cost to replace the seat is between $75 and $100, more than the chair will be worth once the work is done. Further, a back pillow also is necessary to make the chair usable. This adds another $50 to $100 to the restoration cost.
Although you do not state in your e-mail that the chair has some family value and despite your mother’s attribution as “early junk,” I suspect the chair has some family value. The photographs attached to your e-mail suggest the chair does not have to be refinished. Hence, my advice is to replace the rush seat, buy a back pillow and enjoy using the chair.
QUESTION: I own a Dale Earnhardt Racing Champions Collectors Series 1 #3 Car that is still in its period blister pack. The car was issued in 1989, now 25 years ago. Yet, the car is selling for less than $25 on eBay. Given the Earnhardt connection and the age, how do you explain this?
– W, Bristol, Tenn.
ANSWER: Dale Earnhardt (April 29, 1951 to Feb. 18, 2001) won 76 races during his career, making him one of the top NASCAR drivers. There is no disputing his importance to the sport.
There are two basic reasons why your Racing Champions Collector Series 1 car has not risen in value. The first focuses on when Americans developed a collecting conscience. The critical date is 1980. This is the landmark date when Americans recognized that toys and other collectibles tended to rise in value over time. Rather than wait to collect them, a smart approach was to buy them new at the initial retail price and hold on to them until a stable secondary market was established. The chief problem is that buyers bought multiples, thus creating artificial shortages and short-lived speculative secondary markets.
Second, many collectibles categories experience one or more collecting crazes. NASCAR collectibles were hot in the late 1980s and throughout much of the 1990s. Stores specializing in NASCAR and other racing collectibles opened across the country. Most have disappeared. Racing car owners found there was a market for anything related to the cars, including used tires and body parts from wrecks.
Crazes are fueled by secondary market speculation. EBay arrived on the scene in 1985 and was a very speculative sale venue in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I suspect the Earnhardt car did increase slightly in value during that period. However, the eBay market flooded in the mid- to late 1990s, driving prices downward.
Will the value of your Earnhardt Racing Champions Series 1 car increase over time? The answer is a qualified no. Supply exceeds demand. Those who wish to own one can do so for a very modest price. I do not see this changing in the next 25 years.
QUESTION: I recently saw a listing for a lot of six Blue Ball Mason quart canning jars that sold on eBay for $31 plus $15 shipping. The seller was located in Wernersville, Pa. I live in the area. These jars normally sell for 25¢ to 50¢ each at local garage sales and even less in box lots at local auctions. How do you explain the price differences?
– I, Reading, Pa.
ANSWER: I shared your question with listeners of WHATCHA GOT?, my syndicated antiques and collectibles call-in radio program. I offered the thought that there had to be some decorator trend, possibly in Country, causing this price discrepancy.
Linda Wunder from Wernersville sent a Jan. 12, 2014, e-mail that reads: “My husband and I bought a whole box of them (green canning jars) with zinc lids at a flea market a few years ago for $5. In the last several months, they have been featured in various Country decorating magazines as being very collectible. They showed these canning jars being used as flower vases, centerpieces with flowers for “Country” weddings, candleholders, electrified as lamps, holders for arts and crafts supplies—basically you name it, and it is a useful, decorative item. This proves your theory that a current “hot” collectible drives up the price. Recently, I have seen these canning jars priced at $2 to $3 a piece.”
Sue Skinner’s Jan. 12, 2014, e-mail notes: “I work at a local flower shop in the Midwest and a trend is to use one to three canning jars filled with flowers on tables at a wedding reception. This often necessitates LOTS of jar. Brides come in wanting that Look which they probably saw in some bride magazine or Pintrest….”
Decorating trends, remember Martha Stewart and Jadite, trigger market runs. Eventually, the decorating craze ends, and prices return to their pre-craze level. The craze can be as short as a few months or last several years. Hopefully, the “canning jar wedding” craze will end within a few years. In the interim, if you have a collection of green, zinc-lid canning jars in the basement now is the time to sell them. Unlike the postman, who always rings twice, this opportunity will only knock once.
QUESTION: I have a DeForest electronic correspondence course dating from the late 1940s. The company was located in Chicago. Does this have any value?
– P, Altoona, Pa.
ANSWER: During the 1930s and 1940s, correspondence courses were a popular form of adult education, especially for those wishing to “learn a trade.” Magazines such as Popular Electronics and Popular Mechanics contained advertisements for these courses. DeForest Training, Inc., located at 2533 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago 14, Illinois, was one of the many educational organizations offering such courses.
A 1949 advertisement notes: “Fires, Sporting Events, Major happenings and other news events are being covered by Television Camera Crews in a growing number of areas. Let us show you how to prepare to enter the profitable and exciting technical phases of Television, Radio, Electronics…See HOW—in your own home—DeForest’s Training, Inc., now brings you one of today’s most complete combinations of major home training aids. You (1) Learn-by-Seeing from D.T.I.’s exclusive instructive Home Movies. You (2) Learn by Reading from well-illustrated lessons. And (3), you set up your own HOME LABORATORY where you learn by Doing from 16 shipments of Radio-Electronic parts which you use and KEEP to work over 300 instructive…fascinating projects. This includes building the valuable 6 tube ‘Superhet” RADIO and commercial-type OSCILLO-SCOPE, R.F. SIGNAL GENERATOR, and Jewel-Bearing MULTIMETER….You may use this test equipment to help you earn real money—both in your spare time and later when working full time in the field….”
The DeForest Training, Inc., “Electronic” correspondence course text consisted of two binders that contained individual sheets and pamphlets covering a wide range of topics ranging from movie projection, radio, and television. However, the text alone is incomplete without the home movies and the equipment.
Abebooks has one listing for the DeForest Training Institute’s two binder electronic course materials. The asking price is $65 plus $3.95 shipping. Since no one has purchased this material, the safe assumption is the price is high. A fair value for your two binders is between $30 and $40, a curiosity rather than collector value.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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