Cash in the attic? -- Don’t discard a treasure!

It’s only 7 inches long and missing a little paint, but this early toy by a well-known German toy maker sold for $24,000 at a Bertoia auction in New Jersey last year.

If you have several generations of “things” that you have inherited and now have to move to a smaller place, be careful what you give or throw away. Of course you check on oil paintings or prints to see if they can be sold. The local historical society might want some of your family pictures and letters from soldiers in past wars. Some old magazines, comic books, autographs, souvenirs and clothes, even a uniform from a famous fast-food restaurant that a family member worked for, or an early gym suit with bloomers would be welcome for displays. And be sure to check out everything made of silver or gold, even the ugly tea set, since there is a melt-down value to precious metals. But very old toys are among the items that sell for more than most people expect. A 7-inch tin toy that was made in Germany years ago found its way to a recent auction of toys and hobbies. It was a motorcycle with a driver in a racing position. There was a wind-up mechanism where the motor would have been on a full-size motorcycle. It was painted black and yellow and had yellow tires, and the driver had a suit and hat painted brown. Most of the paint remained and the toy was listed as being in very good to excellent condition. The auction house knew it was a valuable old toy, a Gunthermann racing motorcycle. Bikes and motorcycles are very popular toys. So although this toy was estimated at more than $7,000, it surprised most when it sold for $24,000. Antique toys in good condition can be very valuable.

I saw a TV show the other day, “Better Call Saul.” The plot included a Hummel figurine that was so rare it would sell for thousands of dollars. I have seen your comments on Hummels that say they are bought for very low prices today, most under $50, many sold in lots of 10 for less than $100. Did the show make up the story? Or is there a type of Hummel that sells for over $1,000?

The “Better Call Saul” show was talking about the rarest Hummels, a group called International Figures. The characters talked about the Bulgarian figure but the real one depicted a Bavarian figure. In 1976, eight were in a sale by Robert Miller, the author of the first Hummel price book and an expert in all things Hummel. He realized they were different from any he owned, so he made for a dealer in Hungary before WWII. Later research claims that 24 or 26 different designs were made in the 1940s. The figures are marked with the M.I. Hummel signature used from 1935 to 1955 and mold numbers that run consecutively from 806 to 813 and others with numbers up to 968. Each figurine is depicted in its country’s national dress. The thieves in the TV show wanted to steal an ordinary Hummel figurine and redecorate it to look like the famous one that has sold for thousands of dollars. The first sales were at $20,000, but by 2013, the price for the International figure was as low as $5,000.

I’m trying to find the year and the maker of a plate I have from my mother’s collection. It says “Florence, Patd. 28 Oct., 1890” on the bottom. The marks below that are partly worn off but I can see “V” and below that “vington Bro’s, France.” Can you tell me who the maker is and possible age of this plate?

The maker is Tressemanes & Vogt of Limoges, France. The company was founded by Emilien Tressemanes and Gustave Vogt in 1883. After Tressemanes retired in 1907, Vogt changed the name to Porcelaine Gustave Vogt. This “T & V” mark was used from 1892 until 1917 or later. The company was sold to Raynaud in 1919. Raynaud used a T&V mark as well as a Raynaud mark. Raynaud is still in business. “Florence” is the name of the pattern. The other name in your mark is “Ovington.” Ovington Brothers was an importer in New York City in 1846. Your plate was made after 1892 and probably before 1919.

I love old games, and I recently saw a picture of an old board game called “Bulls and Bears — The Great Wall St. Game.” I have never heard of this game and was curious about its history and value. Can you help?

“Bulls and Bears — The Great Wall St. Game” was patented in 1883 by the McLoughlin Bros. The box cover had a lithographed picture of a dapper-looking, cane-holding bull talking with an equally well-dressed bear. Bulls and bears are Wall Street symbols. A bull market refers to a market on the rise; a bear market is one declining. Inside the game was a folding board with Gilded Age stock market characters Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Horace Greeley. There also was a spinning board, play money, contracts and an instruction booklet. A “Bull and Bears” vintage game recently sold at auction for $20,000. It was the top seller in the toy sale that included 450 lots.

I found a Jos. Knittel showcase in an old country store about 50 years ago. The store had been closed a long time. It has a metal tag on it that says “Jos. Knittel Show Case Co., Makers, Quincy, Ill.” What can you tell me about it?

Joseph Knittel was a partner in Excelsior Show Case Works in Quincy, Illinois, about 1876. He became sole owner by 1878 after his partner died and the name was changed to Joseph Knittel Show Case Co. The company was the largest employer in Quincy, Illinois, by the late 1890s. It sold showcases and phonograph cabinets from 1917 to 1921. The business was sold to Aerosweep Company in 1922. That company went out of business in 1923. Your display case is worth about $600 to $800 if in good condition

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