Carousel figures, made mostly in the early 1900s, sell for high prices today. Carousels probably were first made in the 1700s to train spear-throwers, not as enjoyable rides for children. A horseback rider would ride toward a hanging ring and try to put the spear through it. By the late 1700s in Europe, there were small, light, moveable carousels that traveled from city to city.

The modern carousel was introduced in the United States in the 1860s. Gustav Dentzel started a company that made carousel figures and parts. Some of the company’s carvers were trained in art; some were European immigrants who had carved tombstones and woodwork in their home countries. At least 13 U.S. companies were making carved carousel figures by 1915. American carousels were more imaginative, more elaborate and more beautiful than those made in Europe.

Another famous carousel maker was Herschell Spillman Co., founded in North Tonawanda, N.Y., in 1900. The company made horses and at least 18 other animals for carousels in the “old”style. Each animal was carved with special features, flowers, saddles and masks, and was painted in bright colors. A rare frog figure made about 1910-’15 by Spillman sold recently at a James Julia auction in Fairfield, Maine, for more than $10,000. The frog was wearing shorts, vest, a white collar and bowtie, and sported a perfect coat of paint.

Today, carousel figures that are not part of a working carousel are collected as folk art. Other animals were made in smaller numbers than horses and sell for higher prices. There are 100 vintage working carousels in the United States today. If there is one near where you live, take a ride, admire the hand-carved horses and bring back memories of your childhood.


Q: Was there such a thing as a dunce chair? I have read about them in books and seen some in TV movies, but was there really a chair in the corner for a dunce in school?

A: Educational ideas have changed throughout the centuries. In the 19th century and perhaps earlier, a child who misbehaved or did not study or do homework often was shamed in front of classmates. A seat in the corner and a pointed dunce cap were really used. The dunce chair could be a high stool or chair. It was made so that the child could not put his or her feet down on the floor. Perhaps that was to make the chair seem more confining. We have seen old wooden chairs with long legs as well as high stools sold as “dunce chairs.” The name and the idea seem to make buyers more interested.


Q: My husband has eight Bond Bread labels picturing Hopalong Cassidy that his mother saved for him. They are more than 58 years old. Each one is numbered. Can you give us any information about them?

A: Hopalong Cassidy first appeared in stories written by Clarence E. Mulford in 1904. Since then, he has been featured in novels, radio shows, movies, television and comic strips. More than 60 movies featuring actor William Boyd as Cassidy were made from 1935 to 1948. Boyd bought the rights to the Hopalong Cassidy name from Mulford in the 1940s, and later bought the rights to the movies. In 1949, the old movies, edited for television, became the first network Westerns. The Hopalong Cassidy TV show ran from June 1949 to December 1951. His radio show was broadcast from 1950 to 1952. Bond Bread was one of Hoppy’s sponsors. A series of bread labels that could be collected and pasted into an album was offered as a premium in the early 1950s. Three series of 16 labels each were made, as well as a “Hang-Up Album” for each series. Single labels sell for about $10-$12.


TIP: Lusterware requires special handling because it can wear away if it is improperly washed. The ware should be washed in warm water with a mild soap or detergent. Do not rub too hard, or you will remove the luster glaze.


CURRENT PRICES: These are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

• Suzy Smart doll, plaid skirt, nylon socks, rubber shoes, hair band, with desk, Deluxe Reading Co., Newark, N.J., 1960s, 25 inches, $200.

• Staffordshire plate, dark-blue transfer, Commodore MacDonnough’s victory, grotto shell border, impressed mark, c. 1815, 9 inches, $235.

• Eagle, pine, spread wing, root perch, “Live and Let Live” banner, carved, W.C. Bohley, mid 1900s, 17 by 48 inches, $320.

• Squirrel cage, tin, house shape, sliding door, large wheel, red paint, 1890s, 13 by 26 inches, $560.

• Custard glass dolphin candlesticks, opalescent, petal sockets, c. 1850s, 91/2 inches, pair, $585.

• Tiger maple daybed, scrolled arms, turned legs, beehive finials, 1800s, 23 by 68 by 24 inches, $690.

• Pieced and appliqued quilt, hand-stitched, 16 squares in “Whigs Defeat” pattern, paisley design in multiple borders, c. 1880s, 98 by 97 inches, $805.

• George III silver salver, oval, engraved band of fruit, acorns, flowers and wheat, scroll feet, marked, 1799, 12 by 9 inches, $805.

• Bennington pottery poodle, holding fruit basket, flint enamel, coleslaw fur, c. 1850, 81/2 inches, $3,290.

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