I have a cloth Mickey Mouse doll that my husband received from his grandmother. Mickey has a black body with an elongated white/tan stenciled face. His hands are yellow, his pants red, and his shoes orange. I cannot find anything about it online. I would love to know who made it and if it is worth anything. – TS, Granite City, IL, E-mail Question
The Knickerbocker Doll & Toy Co., established in 1925, made your Mickey Mouse doll. Knickerbocker’s Disney license (1934 – 1941) resulted in a number of Disney character dolls including, Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Snow White, and a Dwarf doll. There were two Mickey and Minnie versions, one plain and one in a cowboy and cowgirl outfit. The designs were modified over the years. As a result, variations exist.
Patsy Moyer’s “Modern Collectible Dolls: Identification & Value Guide, Volume III (Collector Books 1999, p. 303) notes: “Charlotte Clark designed and made the first Mickey Mouse doll and won Disney’s approval for this copyrighted character. The demand soon overcame her production capabilities. The Disney brothers asked a major toy distributor, George Borgfeldt in New York, to mass-produce and market the doll. Unfortunately, these dolls proved inferior to Clark’s dolls, so Disney got the idea to make a pattern and have people make their own dolls. ‘McCall’ offered pattern No. 91 to make a stuffed Mickey Mouse in 1932.”
You did not provide the height of your doll in your email. Using WorthPoint.com, I found two examples. The first measures 17-inches tall and has a stuffed velveteen body and satin-like material on the hands. The cardboard formed shoes also have a velveteen cover. The velveteen material was used by Knickerbocker to imitate a Steiff-like doll. The second is a 12-inch, cloth version. This matches your example.
There are several methods to determine the date of your doll. First, the early Knickerbocker Mickey Mouse dolls had long thin legs. Later dolls had shorter, thicker legs. Second, use your husband’s birthdate. He most likely received the doll between his birth and age four, most likely at two or three. Check his childhood photographs. If you get lucky and find a photograph of your husband with the doll, not only will this help determine the date of the doll’s acquisition but also enhance the perceived value of the doll.
Your doll is not complete. It is missing its rubber tail and string whiskers. In addition, Mickey initially had a string tag attached to its right wrist. After examining the pictures that accompanied your email and taking into consideration the missing elements, your Mickey Mouse doll appears to fall between fair and good condition. This grade also takes into consideration the noticeable fading of fabric color.
Examples of your doll appear regularly for sale on eBay and other internet auctions. A “Sale Date” search on WorthPoint.com shows a sell through 2019-2020 price range from $125.00 to $175.00, down significantly from a decade or two ago, for a 12-inch version of the 1930s Knickerbocker cloth doll. If the doll were complete and in better condition, its value would double and possibly triple. Value increases exponentially when condition reaches near mint condition.
I recently purchased a collapsible, Utilatree metal clothes rack. I was told it was used by a field general in the military. Any information you can provide about age and value would be appreciated. – RH, Albany, NY, Email Question
Your question reminded me of my response to the question: what does the antiques and collectibles trade sell? My standard answer is: stories, dreams, and wonder. The antiques and collectibles trade is plagued with myths and falsehoods that once propagated are impossible to eradicate and dispel.
Military equipment is bought in bulk. It has a distinctive service color – olive-green in the case of the United States Army. It usually contains a military equipment number or other quartermaster marking.
When I received your question, I forwarded it to my son Harry, Jr., who is a military collector, re-enactor, and part-time dealer. He responded: “Not military related. Not issued or in military inventory. Possible private purchase. Garrison use only, for home or office. Most field racks were wood. Easily collapsible and stowed in a foot locker. Even a general’s kit was transport ready.” My reply simple – suspicions confirmed.”
Where did this “Field General’s” attribution originate? An eBay seller currently (Oct. 7. 2020) has a “Vintage 1930s Utilatree Portable Collapsible Clothing Coat and Hat Rack Tree” listed with a “Buy It Now” price of $875.00 discounted 30 percent from an initial “Buy It Now” price of $1,250.00. There was no mention of a “Field General” in the description. The description did identify the company as Utilatree Products of New York, NY, and provide dimensions of 72-inches tall, 29-inch wide maximum, and folded 44-inches high by 5-inches wide. In addition, I found an example on 1stdibs.com for a “1930 Collapsible Mercantile Clothing Rack by Utilatree” with an “asking price of $1,150.00” that was marked sold. Again, no mention of a “Field General.”
The “Field General” reference in a Chairish.com listing: “Utilatree Traveling Field General’s Clothing Rack.” No source was cited for the attribution. The information was sale hype. The clothing rack is priced at $1,350.00. Given the high asking prices for the listings, the final question is: what is the Utilatree collapsible clothing rack’s “real” secondary market value? Once again, the answer is a “Sale Date” search on WorthPoint.com.
WorthPoint.com listed two recent sales: January 16, 2020 on eBay for $650.00 and February 18, 2020 on eBay for $1,459.00. A third example sold on November 22, 2016 on eBay for $299.99. Beware of the strong prices. My gut tells me the Utilatree clothes rack is in the midst of a speculative pricing craze, a market manipulation, or both. If true, this is the time to sell rather than buy. A price collapse within a decade is inevitable.
I used to listen to WHATCHA-GOT? on KBOX in Bozeman, Montana, until it went off the air. I recently picked up a box of Fleer 1990, 10th Anniversary baseball logos and trading cards at a garage sale. One of the 24 sleeves is missing. There also is damage to one corner of the box. Can you give me a ballpark (pun intended) value of the cards? – T, Bozeman, MT, Email Question
The demand for a box of the Fleer 1990, 10th Anniversary baseball logos and trading cards is between $10.00 and $15.00 on a good day. Most days are bad days. The asking price on eBay is between $13.00 and $17.00. They do not appear to be selling through. Some sellers are asking $5.00 to $9.00 per individual sleeve. These do not appear to be selling either.
Given the damage to your box and the fact that a sleeve (pack) is missing, my advice is to sell the sleeves individually on an internet auction website for one or two dollars. Things sell when a person undercuts the other sellers.
The alternative is to forget what you paid, take the packs out of the sleeves, reminisce, and enjoy them.
In my grandfather’s diary, I found dozens of old newspaper clippings dating from 1916. They ranged from poems, advice, historical tidbits, personality photographs, and stories. What do you think they are worth? – HD, Email Question
They have emotional/family value only to you. They provide insight into what your grandfather felt was important to him.
With no information regarding source and no crossover to existing collecting categories, they have no financial antique or collectibles value.
Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Selected letters will be answered in this column. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Point Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You also can e-mail your questions to email@example.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered.