RINKER ON COLLECTIBLES Q/A: A Coca-Cola Clock, Korean Vases, A Maasai Snuff Box, and a Snoopy Toy

A Coca-Cola advertising clock acquired in the 1950’s.

QUESTION:  My grandfather was an early franchisee of the Coca-Cola Company.  In the late 1940s or early 1950s, he acquired a Coca-Cola advertising clock.  It is housed in a bell jar.  The clock has an enamel face with Roman numerals with garlands above them.  The center of the face contains a red dot with “Drink / Coca-Cola.”  The clock mechanism has four balls at its base.  The clock is marked on the mechanism and the bottom: “Euramca Trading Corp.” and “Made in Germany.”  I would like to sell it but do not know where to begin. – CW, Lexington, VA, Email Question

ANSWER:  Upon receiving your email with the two images of your clock, I called my friend Bill Bateman, one of the premier Coca-Cola collectors in America.  Bill identified the clock as an “anniversary” clock and suggested I consult Allan Petretti’s “Petretti’s Coca-Cola Collectibles Price Guide, 12th Edition” (Krause Publications, an imprint of F+W Publications, 2004).

You own a “Princess” model Coca-Cola advertising clock.

Petretti notes: “During the 1950s, the Coca-Cola Company offered bottlers three different anniversary clocks produced by the Forestville Clock Company.  An anniversary clock is a key-wound mantel clock that, when wound, runs for a full year [or 400 days].  The first was the ‘Contessa’…This was the least expensive at $6, and is most commonly found today.  The next in line was the ‘Princess.’  This 6 1/2” x 8 1/2” version had an enameled dial, adjustable leveling screw, glass dome with brass screw cap, and rotating pendulum balls.  The Princess is difficult to find today and originally sold for $9.  The top of the line was the ‘Cinderella.’  This Black Forest cottage-shaped clock had brass finish and etched glass slides…Because of its very expensive price to bottlers of $11, the Cinderella is very rare today.”

Bateman indicated the three clocks are not as scarce as Petretti suggests.  Bateman owns several examples of each.  His October 23, 2018, email to me reads: “They are put away on a high shelf in the Butler’s Panty because they are in our experience an easy item to find.”  I confirmed the easy availability on WorthPoint.com.  Examples of the three clocks appear several times each year on the secondary market.

A close examination of the images you sent indicate the brass on your clock needs polishing.  If it cannot be polished, it needs to be replated.  Assuming your clock runs, it is in “used” condition.  To achieve full value, the mechanism needs to be cleaned and clock restored to its “as new” appearance.

Petretti values the “Princess” in fine or better condition at $1,600.00.   I found a WorthPoint.com listing for an example that sold through on eBay on March 5, 2018, for $1,849.00.  Bateman recommended cutting the Petretti price in half.

Given the condition of your clock and assuming it runs, a value of $750.00 to $800.00 is reasonable.  If the clock does not run, a realistic value is between $400.00 and $500.00.

While eBay is an option, I recommend you offer the clock at auction through Morphy Auctions  or Richard Penn Auctions.

A set of spun metal, tapered body vases purchased in Korea during the Korean war.

QUESTION:  My father was in the Navy during the Korean War.  At some point, he purchased a set of spun metal, tapered body vases.  The front of each is painted with a landscape scene that has Mount Fuji in the background.  The vases measure 9-1/2 inches high and have a maximum diameter of 4 1/2 inches.  The vases have no maker’s or other marks.   Is there any value to something like this? — SS, Bozeman, MT, Email Question

ANSWER:  I keep threatening to write a book entitled “Things GIs Buy.”  No matter what war or theater, American GIs brought back gifts for their mothers, wives, girlfriends, relatives, or whomever.   All had one common element.  They were inexpensive.

When I did a “Japanese metal vase” Google search, the links I received focused on elaborate metal inlaid on metal vases, very different from the vases you own.  I refined the search to “Vintage Japanese metal vase +Mt. Fuji.”  This produced several varieties of vases among which were examples identical to your vases.   Asking prices ranged from $15.00 to $25.00.

            [Author’s Aside:  While I continue to rail against the use of “vintage,” I reluctantly use it in internet searches.  It is a favorite word among younger sellers for whom it serves as an excuse to not properly date pieces.]

On a quality scale where 10 is high quality and 0 is trash, your vases are a 2.5.  A value of $35.00 for the pair is fair because they have some decorative and conversational value.  Their collectable value is nil.

A Maasai snuff box.

QUESTION:  I have a chain attached to a container with a bell-shaped top, tapered body, and ends in a leather cap with a circular beaded bottom.  It appears to be made of wood, not animal bone or horn.  The chain attaches to the leather cap through the top of the wooden container.  I am thinking Native American.  Can you help identify it? – TG, State College, PA, Email Question.

ANSWER:  I received this question from a WHATCHA GOT? listener on Sunday, October 21.  After examining the images that accompanied the email, I had no idea what the object was.  The one thing I did know was that it was not Native America.   On air, I suggested that the listener think Nepal or Asian and that it might be Buddhist in origin   I promised to do additional research in the week ahead.

Sometimes a hint is all one needs to find the right answer.  While I still was on air, the listener began look at other countries.  My Nepal/Asia Buddhist guess was off the mark.  Before the show ended, the listener sent me a second email indicating she had identified the item as a Maasai snuff carrier and sent me an image of a Maasai warrior wearing an example.  Learn something new everyday as the old adage suggests.

Wanting to know more, I came across an article my Mikey Sadowski entitled “What Sniffing Tobacco with a Maasai Villager Taught Me About Culture and Customs.”  Sadowski wrote: “As the final flames dwindled into embers and our conversation wound to a close, Salei reached into his pocket and pulled out a film cannister filled with a cloudy black paste.

 “‘Tobacco snuff,’ Salei said, tilting the mixture of cow lard and tobacco and explaining its cultural significance to me.  For the Enkii, tobacco snuff is used as a gift—a ritual to seek blessings from elders.  It is enjoyed collectively in celebration of a successful hunt.”

Maasai snuff boxes are collected.   I found an eBay listing for a 1920s Kenya large wooden snuff box for $280.00   It did not sell.  Your example exhibits age and heavy use.  A fair secondary market price is between $35.00 and $50.00.  I confirmed the price range from comparable listings found on WorthPoint.com.

A 1950s Peanuts Snoopy-in-the box windup toy.

QUESTION:  While visiting an aunt in California, she got out a 1950s Peanuts Snoopy-in-the box windup toy for my great grandson.  He enjoyed playing with it.  Does it have any value? – DB, Reading, PA, Email Question.

ANSWER:  Mattel made your Snoopy-in-the-box windup toy in 1956.  The toy features four lithograph side panels: (1) Lucy and Linus with Snoopy in the background: (2) Charlie Brown standing behind a swing, Lucy reading a book nearby and Snoopy sitting atop his doghouse: (3) Schroeder playing the piano with Snoopy sitting on top and singing, and (4) Snoopy playing the accordion.

2018 sell-through prices on WorthPoint.com ranges from $13.95 to $24.99.  An eBay seller currently has one listed at $45.00 or best offer with free shipping.  Another eBay seller is asking $17.99 but demanding a $10.00 shipping fee.

A fair secondary market value for your Mattel Snoopy-in-the-box is between $15.00 and $20.00.


Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Selected letters will be answered in this column.  Harry cannot provide personal answers.  Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned.  Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Point Court SE, Kentwood, MI  49512.  You also can e-mail your questions to harrylrinker@aol.com.  Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered.

You can listen and participate in WHATCHA GOT?, Harry’s antiques and collectibles radio call-in show, on Sunday mornings between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Eastern Time.  If you cannot find it on a station in your area, WHATCHA GOT? streams live on the Internet at www.gcnlive.com.

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