| November 2005 Issue
The Mythic and the Modern
An Insider's Guide
Business of doing Business in Antiques
Being Paid For What You Know
What is it?
Haviland China, Antique Toys, Hamm's Beer Collectors
Where Do You Find Nice Coins?
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This month Mike McLeod takes a look at Haviland China, Antique Toys, and Hamm's Beer Collectors.
Readers who would like to share interesting websites with Mike may contact him via email at:
The story of Haviland & Co. is worthy of a cover article in Business Week or Entrepreneur magazine. In 1839, David Haviland operated a retail china store in New York City, and he was doing quite well with it. One day, a customer came in with a broken cup to be replaced. Despite his great knowledge of china and being able to identify the cup as being made in France, there was no mark on it, and Haviland did not know which pottery created it. Yet, he was enamored with the quality of the cup, so much so that he undertook the arduous voyage to France to find the creator.
After much searching and many disappointments, Haviland found the maker in Limoges. But this was not to be the end of his challenges. After arranging to import china from the pottery, Haviland found that the French manufacturers were loath to change their styles, designs or decorations. He could not get them to produce the type and quantity of china he needed.
3-piece Haviland butter dish
with cover and butter drip.
To overcome this obstacle, Haviland made a bold decision and acted upon it-he built his own factory in Limoges. After accomplishing this Herculean feat, he again faced the obstinacy of the French artisans who refused to add
decorations to their plain china. Haviland eventually overcame this problem, and today, there are somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 patterns of Limoge china credited to Haviland and Co., Charles Field Haviland, Johann Haviland and Theodore Haviland, as Havilandonline.com reports.
Haviland Chocolate Pot
In addition to featuring photos, backmarks, books, the company history, and the railroads that used Haviland china, the website also explains what a Schleiger number is. In a nutshell, the story goes that after Arlene Schleiger amassed a collection of 4,000 pieces of Haviland china, she found there was no real system for identifying patterns. During her life, she authored four volumes of Two Hundred Patterns of Haviland China and became a recognized Haviland authority. Unfortunately, after she sold her collection, most of it was destroyed in a fire. But her contribution to identifying Haviland is still an industry standard today. You can purchase those books at
3-piece Haviland butter dish with
cover and butter drip.
But if you still need help identifying a pattern, you can get it ID'ed by sending photos or photocopies of the mark and both sides of the piece along with its color to www.graveshaviland.com. This is a free service.
Havilandonline.com gets 200,000 visitors a month, which shows the popularity of this collectible and the quality of information on the website.
One of the best things about the Internet these days is that many collectors and collector associations use it to provide instant reference materials, such as databases and photos. To me it is always frustrating to have to wait for a book to come in at the library or for Amazon to ship it.
Windup Lehmann Tin Litho beetle,
4.25 inches long, priced at $300.
Brent Harelson of Gallup, N.M., has one such site for toys. It is, to be sure, a place for him to buy and sell toys since that is his livelihood, but he has a great amount of information for toy lovers. Also, you can post a toy there to sell for free. (Extras, such as a six-month run, are a buck.) To post a toy, click on "Toy Gallery." On the next page, select the manufacturer of your toy and then page down to "Place Toys" and fill out the form. This section is also divided into the type of toy, such as car, truck, etc., so you can use it to search for a specific type of toy by a specific manufacturer. The photos here are better than looking at the Sears & Roebuck catalog before Christmas when you were a kid. (These photos are in color.)
Under the "Collecting" button on the homepage are several reference sources. Click on "Antique Toy Companies" for a very thorough A to Z listing of old toy companies. Information about their location, dates in business, the trade name, and their toy specialty is included. The "Antique Toy Company Logos" button on this page shows the logos of 50 companies. Also, there is a toy glossary and an article on antique toys as an investment.
Brent has photocopies of old toy catalogs for sale under the "Toy ID Aids" button. Just a few of those available include: American Flyer (1929); Bing Brothers toys (1898); Gong Bell (1880); Ideal (1896); Metal Cast (1926); several Schoenhut, Marx, Slik, J&E Stevens, Tipp Marklin, Milton Bradley, and many more.
Be sure to read "Cash in the Attic", which has some good advice, such as: "If you are new to toy collecting, our strongest advice is for you not to attempt to clean up the toys you unearth. Finishes become delicate with age and can be rubbed off or damaged by inexpert handling….Toys in their original boxes sell for a premium price. If you find the original box, however tatty it may appear, you will be fortunate. It doesn't matter that it is torn and incomplete. It may still bear the original patent number, year of copyright and other information to enhance the value of your find….Even when only one or two panels of an original box remain intact, collectors will be eager to salvage them, and some will frame these portions to preserve their comic art." Antiquetoys.com is a fun website to visit.
Hamm's Beer Collectors
I still remember seeing the commercials for Hamm's Beer when I was a kid in the '60s, and I can still hear the "From the Land of Sky Blue Waters" jingle as the happy Hamm's Bear danced around and entertained me with slapstick. Seems I wasn't the only one entertained.
The bear beloved by Hamm's collectors.
The Hamm's Club website is a gathering place for collectors and offers a membership and a quarterly newsletter for $20 per year. And members get first chance at buying an annual commemorative-the 2005 dancing bear figure with the total production run of 600 sold out at $40 a pop. There is also an annual show for collectors, links to other websites, and a store for buying memorabilia.
But if not for the bear and the "Sky Blue Waters" campaign elements, there probably would not be Hamm's collectors. The bear entertained adults and kids in mostly northern states where the beer was sold starting in 1953 and continued at least until 1969, after which he made sporadic appearances in advertising for the next 20 years. In 1965, the Hamm's commercials were ranked as the most liked nationwide, even though they only aired in 31 states.
You don't see the Hamm's bear often when advertising icons congregate in nostalgic reminisces on TV, but he was a player in his day.