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THE KOVELS \ Antiques and collecting '60s space toys are out of this world



Published: Sat, June 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Children's toys imitate life because children like to pretend to be part of the adult world.

Space exploration has fascinated adults and children since the 19th century, when trips to the moon and flying were fantasies.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set a goal for the United States to land on the moon and return safely to Earth during the 1960s. At first, U.S. space flights tested spaceships while orbiting Earth or the moon and taking photographs. Then Apollo 11, launched in July 1969, landed on the moon and returned. Neil Armstrong, one of three astronauts on that mission, was the first man to set foot on the moon.

Toy rocket ships were popular in the late 1960s. One, a battery-operated toy marked "TM Modern Toys" (Masudaya Toy Co.), was made in Japan to be sold in the United States. A spaceman on a wire spun from the top. It beeped and flashed lights, but did not fly. All old space toys are collectible today.

Q. I have a 2-1/2-foot-high-by-4-foot-wide bright-red porcelain flying-horse figure, the Mobil Gas Pegasus logo. It's flat on the back so it can be mounted on a wall. I assume that at one time it was used in a gas station. What's it worth today?

A. The red Pegasus trademark was adopted by Socony-Vacuum Corp. in the early 1930s. A few years later, the company added the word "Mobil" as another trademark. The two trademarks became famous worldwide and led, in 1966, to the company's adoption of the name Mobil Oil Corp. Wall-mounted porcelain Pegasus figures were made in various styles and sizes. If yours is without flaws, it could be worth more than $1,000. By the way, people who collect Mobil Oil memorabilia like to say they are "chasing the red horse."

Q. For years I have been trying to learn something about a heavy iron plaque I found. It's 71/2 inches high, 51/2 inches wide and 7/8 inch deep, and is cast with a scrolled top and sides. It has a three-holed bracket on the back that I thought might be designed to hold toothbrushes or straight razors. The words cast on the front are: "Gilt Edge" at the top, "Schwab & amp; Sercomb" in the middle and "Milwaukee, Wis." at the bottom. Any ideas?

A. Schwab & amp; Sercomb was an iron foundry in Milwaukee, owned by Rudolph J. Schwab and Charles A. Sercomb. It was in business at least during the 1880s and '90s. We suspect you have an architectural piece that could be mounted on a building using the three-holed bracket on the back. Gilt Edge was the name of a mining camp in Montana around this time, but we don't know if the wall piece was made for a building there or somewhere else.

Q. I just got an antique reclining chair. The frame is solid walnut, and the chair has its original upholstery and horsehair stuffing. There's a round, silver-colored metal handle on one side of the chair below the arm. The handle is marked "Patented March 24, 1868." The chair works much like a modern recliner: You turn the handle and the back tilts back as the footrest rises. Can you tell me who made the chair and what it's worth?

A. The patent date on the handle refers to the date the patent was issued for the mechanism that reclines the chair. During the 19th century, American and English furniture designers became focused on comfort. Coiled inner springs, invented in 1828, helped make chair and sofa seats much more comfortable. Later in the century, designers working on chairs for invalids transferred their ideas to reclining chairs for the general public. Your chair probably dates from the 1870s. Without a maker's name, the price of a chair from that era depends on its condition and design. Yours would sell for a price ranging from the low hundreds to the low thousands.

XRead "Kovels' American Antiques, 1750-1900" by Ralph and Terry Kovel. Learn about every American antique you can imagine, from art pottery and old advertising signs to rare silver. Hundreds of color photos, marks, lists of makers, dates, how to evaluate, factory histories and more. Includes chapters on pottery, glass, furniture, silver, advertising collectibles, prints, jewelry, pewter, tools and ephemera. An easy-to-use book with up-to-date information. At your bookstore, or send $24.95 plus $3.95 postage to Kovels, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122, or call (800) 571-1555. For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit our Web site, www.kovels.com.

& copy; 2005 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.




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