Rinker on Collectibles Q/A: An Aladdin Lamp, a Trinket Box, Magazine Covers, and a Table

An original Aladdin lamp found tucked away in a cupboard.

QUESTION:  While clearing out our parents’ home, I found a lamp tucked away in a cupboard.  It was separated into three pieces – base, mantel, and shade.  I believe the lamp was passed down from a friend or relative.  Dad was 91 when he died and lived in the house for over 40 years.  The lamp is an Aladdin.  The shade has a frosted top with a patterned clear glass border.  The base also is clear glass.  The oil font of the base has a drape-like pattern.  The round foot has a “V” pattern on it.  It is very hard to let go.  However, is very fragile and not useable as a lamp.  I have an internet seller helping to dispose of the household items.  I wanted to get an idea on value before I let the seller take it. – LW, Newport, Oregon, Email Question

ANSWER:  Using the pictures that accompanied your email, I was able to identify the lamp base and shade.  The lamp base is the plain stem, Washington drape, made between 1941 and 1953.  It came in a variety of colors with clear being the most common.  The shade is Model 501-9.

Aladdin sold bases and shades separately.  Shades were interchangeable.  Hence, when researching your lamp, I found the Washington drape base with a wide variety of shades.

Complicating the issue is the Model 501-9 shade has been and still is being reproduced.  Reproductions sold in the mid-1990s were marked with an oval label on the lower inside edge.  Later reproductions were not marked.  Click here for more information. 

Aladdin collectors prefer examples that have not been electrified.  As to usability, your lamp still has reuse value in areas where storms tend to create power failures or in cottages and cabins without electricity or where electrical reception is iffy.  Add the romantic possibilities when a room is lit with just this lamp.  Use modern scented lamp oil to enhance the mood.

 I carefully compared your lamp shade with period examples and reproductions.  Unfortunately, your photograph was not detailed enough allow me to make an absolute determination that the shade was period.  If the shade and base are period, your lamp has a secondary market retail value between $135.00 and $150.00.

 High quality reproductions are available for a low price.  Reproduction 501-9 shades sell between $70.00 and $92.00.  Period clear Washington drape bases sell on the internet at an average price of $35.00.  Period and reproduction mantels and shade brackets are readily available.  If a person has patience, he/she can put together a brand-new lamp for close to the price of a period one.  In an age when new is valued over old, younger buyers opt for the new, their reasoning still something I do not fully understand.

QUESTION:  For several years, I have owned a circular oval trinket box.  It once belonged to my soon to be ex-step great grandmother.  [Author’s Aside:  I am not going to touch this one with a 10-foot pole.]  She lived in England during World War II.  The bottom has a circular mark with “ERNST RENZ” in a top arch, ‘MARIAHILFERS STR.12” in a reverse arch on the bottom and “WIEN VII” in the center.  The lid is painted with edelweiss and other floral motifs.  The side has a wood burned: ‘Gruss aus Wien.”  What is its origin?  How old is it?  -JH, E-mail Question

ANSWER:  Answering the first question is easy.  Since it was sold in Vienna, Austria, chances are it originated in that country.

When I first saw the reference to Ernst Renz, I thought “I have seen that name before.”  A quick search showed that I had.

In “Rinker on Collectibles” Column #1641, which I wrote in early 2018, I answered a question about two Austrian Retro wall masks of young women marked “Begr. ERNST RENZ 1876 / Spezialgeschäft für / Geschenkartikel / Wien VII, Mariashilfer Straße 12-18” beneath which is a shield inside of which is the double headed Austrian eagle and above the shield “Andenken aus” in an arch above “WIEN.”

An internet search resulted in multiple images of framed three-dimensional wood Alpine scenes.  The backs had the same two marks found on the young lady wall masks.

The “Begr. 1876” indicates the firm was founded in 1876.  I located a copy of a turn of the 20th century Ernst Renz advertisement for a porcelain service made by Elbogener Porzella -Fabrick Winter & Company.  Although Mariahilfer Strasse 12-18 still exits, Ernst Renz is long gone.  My best guess is that following the end of World War II, Ernst Renz became a souvenir shop for visitors to Vienna (Wien in German).  I was not able to find when Renz closed.

The young lady masks and three-dimensional Alpine wood pictures date from the late 1940s through the 1950s.  Your trinket box most likely dates from this period.  Its secondary market retail value is between $10.00 and $15.00.  Gruss aus Harry.

QUESTION:  I have a complete set of the 11 Norman Rockwell “Saturday Evening Post” covers featuring Willie Gillis.  All are complete magazines in excellent condition.  All are nicely frame and matted.  What is my collection worth? – SM, Sheridan, Wyoming, Email Question

ANSWER:  Norman Rockwell created Willie Gillis, Jr., a fictional character for a series of World War II paintings done between 1941 and 1946.  Gillis, an Army private, was an everyman character.  Rockwell sold the Gillis artwork to other publishers as well.  The dates and titles of the “Saturday Evening Post” Willie Gillis covers are:

October 4, 1941 – Food Package (aka, Package from Home)

November 29, 1941 – Home Sweet Home (aka, Willie Gillis: Home on Leave)

February 7, 1942 – USO

April 11, 1942 – Hometown News (aka, On K.P.)

June 17, 1942 – What to do in a Blackout

July 25, 1942 – Willie Gillis in Church

September 5, 1942 – Girls with Letters (aka, Double Trouble for Willie Gillis)

June 26, 1943 – Cat’s Cradle / Willie’s Rope Trick

January 1, 1944 – New Year’s Eve

September 16, 1944 – Gillis Heritage (aka, Willie Gillis Generations)

October 5, 1946 – Willie Gillis in College

Valuing framed paper material requires two steps.  The first is to determine the value of the paper, in this case the magazines, unframed.   Excellent condition examples of “Saturday Evening Post” Willie Gillis covers sell on the secondary market between $25.00 and $40.00, the price varying based on the cover.  The second is to determine what enhanced value is created by the framing.  My research showed the average asking price is around $175.00, albeit there are a few ambitious sellers asking over $300.00.

For the sake of argument, assume each of the framed covers is worth $175.00.  This suggests a secondary market retail price of $1,925.00.  This is not how things work in today’s market.  Rather than pay a premium to buy a collection, a common misconception among owners, buyers expect a 20 to 40 percent discount.  Following the 2008-2009 Great Recession, the value of Normal Rockwell related collectibles collapsed.  Actually, the collapse started in the late 1990s.

A Rockwell collector might pay between $750.00 and $1,000.00 for the set.  A World War II collector may pay a bit more.  None of the images show Willie Gillis in battle, a deliberate choice by Rockwell.  The maximum value for your set is in the interior decorating marketplace.  The set has appeal to a decorator seeking something with traditional nostalgic appeal for an office, restaurant, or basement den.  In this marketplace, you might get $2,000.00.

A 1950s maple kitchenette set consisting of a table and four chairs.

QUESTION:  I have a 1950s maple kitchenette set consisting of a table and four chairs.  The set features a pseudo-western style.  How do I unload it? – CM, Burbank, CA, Email Question

ANSWER:  The secondary collecting market is minimal to nil for your maple kitchenette set.  Having grown up during the “maple” furniture era of the 1950s and 1960s, it is among the many furniture styles such as Bleached Pecan Mediterranean that have disappeared from the collecting scene.

Having stated this, maple furniture is sturdy and still has reuse value, especially if it is cheap.  Try offering it for sale on Craigslist.  An asking price between $75.00 and $90.00 should sell the set quickly.  If this fails, consider donating it to a thrift store and take a tax deduction.  Like all wood pieces, its last value is as a heat generator.   Avoid this fate.   There is someone out there who can use it.


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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