January 2005

  Compiled by Mike McLeod...This month Mike McLeod takes a look at cookie jars, license plates, Sotheby’s auctions and results, and weather vanes. Mike, who lives with his family near Atlanta, has written about a broad range of antiques and collectibles – from Sumida pottery to Gutenburg Bible pages. Readers who would like to share interesting websites with Mike may contact him via email at mikemcl@mindspring.com.

Brush Baby Elephant with Ice Cream Cone, the cookie jar of Gwen’s dreams and her childhood.

Gwen and Tig’s Cookie Jar Collection

       It is refreshing to find a website that is dedicated to sharing one’s collection with the world and not out to make a buck. Gwen and Tig have been collectors for just five years, and they have accumulated about 200 cookie jars in that brief time.

As Gwen relates on the website, her passion for cookie jars began one day when she happened on an old country auction. She went home with a couple of inexpensive jars, and a new hobby. Her husband soon joined her hunt at garage sales and auctions. Gwen hit a high point when she found the cookie jar of her childhood, a Brush Baby Elephant with Ice Cream Cone.

Now the two of them are exploring another world of collecting on the Internet and joining in cookie jar chat rooms. They have also started their own collecting club.

When visiting the website, you’ll see several scenic shots of their collection around the house. There are also individual photos of old and new jars, Warner Bros. and Disney jars. Take a look; the website is a treat.


Franquoplaque club members displaying various plates from Thailand, Argentina, Australia, Montana, etc.
License Plates

            Just about every garage has one tacked up on a wall, and sometimes there is quite a collection hanging up. One could venture to say that at one time or another, just about every car owner has been a license plate collector. Of course, collecting license plates was hampered somewhat when states began reusing plates. Nevertheless, license plate collecting is quite a national, and an international pastime.

In the U.S., the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association (ALPCA) is the largest collector’s group (“in the world” its website says) with about 3,000 members from 50 states and 19 countries. It was founded in 1954. In any given month, it hosts between two and eight regional meetings a month for license plate collectors (except in December when none are held).

Yet, a French collecting group is giving them quite a run for their virtual money, at least on the Internet. Francoplaque’s website boasts 26,000 plates, and when you join their group, you get a membership card! 

True, collecting license plates may not give you the same aesthetic thrill as picking up a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh, but beauty is in the eye of the collector. Interestingly, the French site has information on plates back to 1893. (Bikes and other two-wheeled vehicles were licensed then.) Click on “26,000 Plates” to access the plate page which features photos of plates from Africa (2,400), USA (4,700), Canada (500), Latin America (2,400), Carribeans (1,600), Europe (4,500), Pacific (1,400), Asia, Middle East (3,400), Australia (4,400), and Other (700).

Just like collecting license plates, visiting these sites is a cheap thrill.


A recent Sotheby’s sale, a pair of Louis XV-style gilt-bronze torcheres, French, circa 1880, $265,600.


          The big auction houses have some of the most outstanding websites on the web. You can see the world’s treasures on them and what they sell for.

Sotheby’s has a particularly good site that is an education in itself. You can search for and read descriptions about specific types of items. You can compare prices on a global scale since Sotheby’s has auction houses in New York, London, Paris, Melbourne, South America and Amsterdam.

I particularly enjoy searching previous auctions by clicking on “Sotheby’s Auctions” and then “Auction Results.” There are records back to 1998 that you can access in the search function on the right side of the page. That takes you to a complete listing of all lots and the final sales prices. Clicking on the lot number will give you a description of the item. One example being on Dec. 18, 1999, a 1933 King Kong one-sheet movie poster, 41 inches x 27 inches, was the top seller at $79,500. Photos aren’t available for all items back that far, of course, but there are photos for most items from recent years.

Sotheby’s homepage always previews upcoming auctions, so the website is like reading  auction news around the world.

Part museum and part estate sale, Sothebys.com is one of the best dream books on the Internet.


Circa 1860 English or American galleon weather vane with terrific detailing of banners, sails,  rigging and crow’s nest, 48 inches x 32 inches.

Weather Vanes

           The TV, satellite photos, the Weather Channel and the Internet have just about forced weather vanes to go the way of the buggy whip. Which is good news from a collector’s point of view. The hand-made weather prognosticators prior to 1850 are favorites, mostly those made of copper. Other early ones were also made of wood, iron and zinc. The record set for a weather vane sold at auction was in 1990 at Sotheby’s when $770,000 was paid for a J. Howard & Co. horse and rider weather vane. James Julia Auction’s $222,500 for a 48-inch Cushing & White weather vane of horses pulling a fire engine was not a bad sale either.

Keys to authenticating weather vanes are pointed out in the article on the Collectics website: “True antique weathervanes have been exposed to weather for 50+ years and sometimes much longer, so you should expect them to look aged and weathered…. It should also be noted that natural aging has patterns, and … that usually means one side is more exposed to the elements than the other. As such, this is another means that experts use to identify reproductions and fakes.”

It seems antique thieves have caught on to the value of old weather vanes. In Portland, ME, there was a rash of weather vanes stolen from the centenarian homes along the coast. Unfortunately, many of the homeowners had no idea their weather vanes were worth several thousand dollars. The thieves knew, the police surmise, because they cherry picked the best.

Journal Home Page     Contents Page     Brimfield FleaMarkets.Com     Brimfield Country Store     Subscribe




 Also featured are Candy Girl,

Miss Priss, Fat Cat and Little

Old Lady cookie jars.





(Photo courtesy Sothebys.com.)