May 24, 2010

Cashing in on pieces of the past

An appraiser assesses the value of Mainers’ favorite old toys.

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Some of the happiest memories of Willow Femmechild’s girlhood were displayed on a table Sunday at the Clarion Hotel.
Among the items were a Shirley Temple doll from the 1930s, a Madame Alexander Cissy doll from the 1950s, a Yes No bear from the 1920s and a number of antique stuffed animals.

click image to enlarge

Bruce Zalkin reviews four dolls brought in by Margaret LaFlamme of Cape Elizabeth, left. Zalkin, who runs the Antique Toy and Doll Buying Show, offered her $150 for the dolls, but LaFlamme turned him down. “I’ll keep them a little while longer,” she said.

Photos by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

These are some of the dolls that were sold over the weekend at the Antique Toy and Doll Buying Show at the Clarion Hotel in Portland. The event started Saturday and continues through Wednesday.

Additional Photos Below

“It’s my childhood laid before you,” Femmechild told Bruce Zalkin, who runs the Antique Toy and Doll Buying Show.

Femmechild brought the toys to the show intending to sell them. Zalkin inspected the items for condition and authenticity.

“All Shirley Temple clothing is tagged. I don’t see a tag, so I don’t think it’s an original dress,” Zalkin said. “The Cissy doll has an original dress. She was well-loved, though.”

Zalkin pointed to the Cissy doll’s missing eyelashes and said he would pass on a doll called Pitiful Pearl, saying she is “too rough.” He noted a hole in the back of a Steiff bear.

”My brother took its voice box out. He grew up to be a surgeon,” Femmechild said.

Zalkin offered her $445 for the items. Femmechild wrestled with the decision to sell for 15 minutes before declining his offer.

“My sister and I used to have tea parties, and all these animals would come to the table,” she said. “Each one of them had names. …  I’m doomed to dust them all.”

Femmechild has time to change her mind. The Antique Toy and Doll Buying Show, which began Saturday, runs through 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Clarion Hotel on Congress Street.

Zalkin, company owner, said roughly 100 people turned out Saturday, but attendance was running light at 1 p.m. Sunday.

He said the most unusual item he bought was a Lenci doll, a brand made in Italy and sold at high-end toy stores in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The doll he bought, which was in rough condition, would typically cost $200 to $250. In mint condition, they can go for up to $1,000, he said.

He said the best single item he bought was a mint-condition, 23-piece Nifty Toy tea set made in Japan in the early 1930s. It had a pattern of Minnie and Mickey Mouse; Zalkin paid $425 for it.

“It’s 100 percent complete,” he said. “There are no cracks or breaks, and it’s in the original box.”

Mark Woodbury of Harpswell brought an antique bat, a Tonka truck and Matchbox cars from the 1920s. He said his father passed the items down to him. Woodbury was most interested in the bat, inscribed “W.E. Mains Bat Co. in Portland Maine.”

“I used it when I was a kid,” Woodbury said. “Lucky I didn’t hit any rocks with it.”

A similar bat was listed on a collectible company’s website for $350. The early 1960s truck was missing its ladders, and its hose was well-used. The Matchbox cars were scratched up. Woodbury kept the bat. He sold the other items for $55.

Margaret LaFlamme of Cape Elizabeth brought four dolls that she found in a chest in her childhood home in East Wilton. She said they belonged to her grandfather’s aunt. LaFlamme pointed to two dolls she played with as a little girl, one of which had its original dress.
The $150 Zalkin offered wasn’t enough for LaFlamme.

“These mean a lot to me,” she said. “I think I’ll keep them a little while longer.”

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Willow Femmechild of Portland plays with one of her puppets Sunday while Bruce Zalkin estimates the value of her collection.

  


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)