October 17, 2008 in Features

Bartering money worth lots of dollars

Glenn Erardi
Courtesy of The Collector photo

Used as barter in some ethic groups in West Africa, jewelry also denoted a man’s stature in his tribe.Courtesy of The Collector
(Full-size photo)

Dear Collector: We bought this rare-condition piece of bartering money 50 years ago in a coin collection. It’s said to have been made in Burma or by a West African tribe in the early 1800s. Could you tell me its value?

Closely matching a form of barter cash called “manilla” used by large numbers of ethnic groups in West Africa before the 19th century, your silver bracelet (or if worn on the ankle, leglet) also denoted a man’s stature in the tribe: the more jewelry worn by his wife/wives, the wealthier the husband. The majority of these manillas were made of copper or brass, while higher quality, therefore more expensive pieces, were wrought from silver. Having it appraised by the proper expert could prove your artifact worth several hundred dollars.

Dear Collector: I’ve had this Patsy Ruth doll since 1939. I have no idea what she is worth, could you tell me?

A member of the Patsy family of dolls created by Effanbee, the earliest of which, Patsy, came onto the scene in 1924. I’m assuming that your doll’s clothing is original. If that’s the case, she’s worth around $1,500.

Dear Collector: We’re dying to find out the maker of a silver coffee pot marked “S.M. L.&Co.” It’s not in very good shape, so unless it’s rare or otherwise valuable, there’s no need to disappoint us by mentioning value.

I found a manufacturer called S.M. Lewis & Co. located in New York City for a brief eight years beginning in 1896, who is more than likely the maker of your pot. As to value, you’ll get no disappointment for me.

Dear Collector: My wife recovered an unopened bottle of Avon Cotillion sachet from a relative’s house. She’s eager to know if it is worth anything.

Dating from the late 1930s, this sachet (French for “small bag”) has a current listed value of $24.

Dear Collector: My parents cherished this Noritake plate as a family heirloom, receiving it as a wedding gift in the 1930s, though they believed it to be much older. I am now the owner and will pass it on to my oldest granddaughter, but I’d like to know more about it.

Based on “Coming to the Call,” a painting by Frederic Remington, the scene at the center shows a Native American in a canoe stalking a moose. This plate was already several decades old when presented to your parents; putting its date of manufacture at about 1911. Research shows a potential value of $400 to $500.

Dear Collector: The Dr. Pepper thermometer in enclosed photos was on our house’s back deck when we moved in around 20 years ago. We’ve never thought of removing it, and will keep it as long as it works. Our house was built in the 1940s, so we think the thermometer dates from that time. Are we right?

You’re off by a decade. This “Be a Pepper” mercury thermometer debuted in the 1950s.

Dear Collector: How much is this old Ben Franklin bank worth?

Long associated with thrift, Franklin, himself a bank founder, would have been pleased to be seen as a penny bank. The estimate on your Ben bust bank is $30.

Prices quoted reflect retail values, and as with many antiques and collectibles these values vary. Readers are encouraged to submit questions with photos to THE COLLECTOR™, P.O. Box 229, West Boxford, MA 01885-0229 or ask online at: www.askthecollector.com. Please don’t ask help in buying or selling your items. Sorry, photos cannot be returned and will become the property of THE COLLECTOR™.

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