Buster Brown first appeared in a comic strip in 1902. He and his dog, Tige, were characters in the very popular strip, but they became even more famous as a trademark for many products.
The creator of the strip, Richard F. Outcault, went to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and sold the rights to use his cartoon characters to about 200 companies. Three companies still use the character and the name: Brown Shoe Co., Buster Brown Apparel Inc. and Gateway Hosiery, makers of Buster Brown socks. There was a Broadway show featuring Buster Brown in 1905.
Although the strip was discontinued in 1920, there were movies with live actors from 1925 to 1929. Then Buster went on to sponsor a radio show from 1943 to 1955 and a TV show from 1950 to 1956.
He was given a more up-to-date look for his advertising in the 1980s and '90s, but the hat and Tige remained. Collectors want all sorts of memorabilia from toys and games to advertising signs.
A vintage 9½-inch-high Buster Brown die-cut tin sign was sold at a Maine auction for $1,778 this past June. It was made with a curved bottom so it would rock on the store counter and attract attention.
Secretary or cabinet?
Q: A few months ago your column included a picture of a bookcase-cabinet that sold for more than $5,000. We have a similar one in black walnut with a lot more detailing on it that belonged to my mother-in-law and father-in-law, but they always called it a "secretary." What is the difference?
A: A secretary is a desk with a bookcase top. Most of them have slant-front desks with drawers below. The auction house described the piece in our column as a bookcase and cabinet. It had a drop-front that looked like a drawer but opened up and became the desktop. The drawers below were closed off by doors, similar to a cabinet.
Terry and Kim Kovel will answer as many letters from readers as possible through the column only. For return of a photograph, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope. Write to: The Kovels, c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. The website is kovels.com.
Prices from shows nationwide:
Sewing pattern, Simplicity, prairie skirt and top, No. 3978, 1952, size 12, $20.
Pin, fan shape, white glass, gold plated, Trifari, about 1966, 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches, $100.
Advertising sign, Jell-O, Tastes Twice as Good, woman holding plate of Jell-O, 32 by 22 inches, $175.
Sewer tile figure, dog, seated, collar, long nose, square base, about 1900, 11 1/2 inches, $1,140.