Tin toys, especially those that picture everyday life, are popular with today's collectors. Political, social, women's work and other themes inspired toymakers.
Many early toys were made of very thin tin that was painted in bright colors. Some of the toys moved when wound and had either a clockwork or a key wind mechanism. Toy collectors are careful to use the proper word — "clockwork" or "windup." Clockwork toys have gears and parts like those used on a clock.
In 1862, a cheaper type of power for moving toys was developed that used a spring, which was wound with a key or crank. Some still were being made as late as 1920.
By the end of World War II, plastic parts were used for toys and the earlier metal windup was out of production. Battery-operated toys were made in Japan after 1946 and today there are electronic toys.
All of these toys are popular with collectors and price is determined by condition, rarity and the appeal of the design. Toys that move or make noise always attract buyers.
Q: I have the chance to buy an old Sligh dresser from a family member. It's made of walnut, 54 inches wide, has columns on the sides, a burled oval on the front, and two large and two small drawers. Can you tell me if it is an antique? What would be a fair price to offer?
A: Charles R. Sligh founded the Sligh Furniture in 1880 in Grand Rapids, Mich., after working for Berkey & Gay as a furniture finisher and traveling salesman.
By the 1920s, Sligh advertised itself as "the largest manufacturer of furniture exclusively for the bedroom in the world."
From 1910 through the 1920s, the company offered more than 80 bedroom suites and 11 dining room suites in a wide range of styles, including Sheraton, Louis XVI, Jacobean, Italian Renaissance and more. Some had a painted finish or painted decoration. Sligh closed in 1932.
Your dresser probably is a retro piece made in an older style. A fair price to offer would be $150 to $200.
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 www.kovels.com.
Prices are from shows nationwide.
Silver, asparagus tongs, Feather Edge Shell pattern, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co., 1901, 3 inches, $95.
Cambridge Glass tray, decagon, center handle, amber, 10 1/2 inches, $110.
Toy, sulky, red cart, seated jockey, embossed seating, spoke wheels, iron, gold trim, Pratt & Letchworth, 8 inches, $235.
Rug, black bear, full head, claws, felt pad, Crosby Fur Co., 69 by 72 inches, $320.
Fairy Soap sign, girl sitting on soap, slogan, cardboard, die cut, easel back, countertop, 18 by 12 3/4 inches, $400.
Decoy, hooded merganser, wood, painted, ringlet neck, tack eyes, lead weight on base, 6 by 18 inches, $530.