September 2004

   Compiled by Mike McLeod... This month Mike McLeod takes a look at antique oriental rugs, political buttons, the Royal collection and Marx toys. 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

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Circa 1850 Turkish Megri rug, 4 feet 3 inches by 7 feet, offered for $5,500.
Antique Oriental Rugs

        I know nothing about Oriental rugs. Fortunately, there is much to be learned on the Internet. Antiqueoriental has many examples of different rugs – Persian, Turkisk, Caucasian, East Turkestan, Kilim, European, and Chinese  – that will begin to give one an inkling of types and costs. has some wonderful information to help the ignorant – such as myself  – and the novice learn about the different sizes and shapes of rugs, care and cleaning of them, costs, decorating tips, a glossary of Oriental rug terms, and how to select a dealer.

            One bit of helpful advice seems to remain constant across the antiques spectrum: if you are familiar with them, ask a knowledgeable friend for a recommendation of a reputable dealer. The website also provides contact information for the Oriental Rug Retailer Organization (P.O. Box 1643, Gordonville, VA 22942) for finding reputable dealers. There is also some useful information about modern rugs and their countries of origin.

            If you are into rugs, both websites are good places to visit.


Extremely Rare 1908 (William Jennings)
Bryan-Kern 1 1/4 inch celluloid button in near mint except slight aging at 4:00. Wow! $245.
Political Buttons Ron Wade Political Campaign Buttons “Collecting Political Buttons”
by Michael Swoveland

        More than just a collector and seller of buttons, Ronald Wade was appointed by President Nixon, as his website records, “…to his advisory council on ending the draft and Wade met with Nixon in the Oval Office as a college student and continued a friendship which would last a lifetime.” He has also befriended (or been befriended by) Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and President George W. Bush.  He hosts the Dallas Political Collector’s Show in September.

            But enough name dropping. Wade’s site, http://ronwade., would be a museum of buttons and political memorabilia — if most of it wasn’t for sale.  From the current to the old and rare, you could spend hours exploring it.

            At, Michael Swoveland has an interesting and brief article entitled, “Collecting Political Buttons,” that is worth your time. It reports that, “It is likely that the hobby of political collecting had it's origins with the medals issued for George Washington at the time of his first inauguration in 1789. However, the first real presidential campaign, and the first true campaign items, were for the 1824 race between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.”

            Swoveland goes on to elaborate on celluloid, lithographed, fake, and reproduction buttons. After you read the article, go back to Wade’s site and start your collection.


Tatham, Bailey & Sanders, pair of council chairs, 1812, guiltwood, velvet upholstery. Made for George IV then Prince Regent
The Royal Collection

         When your collection spans hundreds of years and is housed in many palaces, museums and personal residences, I suppose it is difficult to do it any sort of justice on a website. And unfortunately, that it is the problem behind the official website of the British Monarchy. Or they didn’t want to cramp the tourist trade.

            Nevertheless, there are some interesting items to be seen, including a circa 1511 drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of  “The Babe in the Womb” and other specific pieces. The collection itself includes paintings, furniture, ceramics, clocks, silver sculpture, jewelry, books manuscripts, maps, armor, weapons and textiles. Most of the collection dates from 1660, but some items belonging to Henry VIII are also in it. The royals who added significantly to the collection were: George III, George IV, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and Queen Mary. Much is open to the public.

            To see just a taste of what is in the collection, click on “Art and Residences” and then on “The Royal Collection.” Then on the left side, click on “The Collection” under the “Overview” heading.

            While there, you can also take a look at the many palaces and residences that the British Monarchy call home.


The restored Fred Flintstone flivver

Marx Toys

        “…Marx makes more toys than anyone.” I remember this part of the Marx toys jingle from my childhood, and in the 1950s on to the 1960s it was true. Marx was the largest toy manufacturer in the nation. Not any more, though. And it isn’t the best toy maker either—where are toys like the Rock’em Sock’em Robots today? But it did make some classics in days long past.

            Louis and David Marx started the company in 1919, and it was headquartered on Fifth Avenue in New York for 52 years. Despite the Depression in the 1930s, the company grew rapidly, making metal playsets. These playsets would typically consist of a building, a base, cars and other accessories all boxed together. Marx reigned supreme as the maker of model trains, mechanical toys, guns, cars, doll houses, etc. In the 1950s, Marx sold 20% of the toys purchased in America. During WWII and afterwards, metal was in short supply, so the company turned to plastic.

            In 1972 when Louis Marx was in his 70s, he sold the company to Quaker Oats for $52 million. Quaker sold the company to a firm in England three years later, and the company has continued to change hands ever since. And again unfortunately, the classic toys of the past – like Big Wheels – that Marx created have not been produced by the company since.

            A sad tale, but there are several websites that proudly display many of the great toys Marx produced during its heyday. has a good article on restoring a metal Fred Flintstone flivver with Fred inside, and it answers Marx toy questions from collectors and even puts a value on some. (A metal 1939 tractor that was part of a 40-piece set was priced at $45-$75.)

    , actually located in Glen Dale, West Virginia, “… is dedicated to preserving the beauty and the history of Marx toys, the passion and the genius of the man who made them possible, and the talents and creativity behind the men and women who dedicated their lives to toy production.” There are representative photos of some of the hundred-piece diorama playsets Marx produced, like Fort Apache, western sets, roadsides, barns, police and mobsters, etc.       It’s too bad that Marx doesn’t make more of these toys.


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