Sandy Erdman: Ring in the new year — old school

December 23, 2018
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New Year’s Eve noisemakers from 1940.

When I think of New Year’s Eve, I think noisemakers, such as tin party horns.

Fun vintage tin litho party horns from the 1930s, made by U.S. Mfg. Co., are a unique collectible. It is very hard to find one in very good condition, as most may have some minor paint scratches. Some that are rare are those that feature couples dancing, people singing and a band playing from the 1930s.

So how do we know it is a 1930 horn? Well, we look at the base of the horn and how the metal looks compared to new horns, for one thing. These horns are also considered toys, a word, which later, was added to the name on the horns — U.S. Mfg Toy Co. A horn from the 1930s can be priced for $20 or more, depending on age and condition, even without a box.

If you happen to come across a tin noisemaker with a wood handle, these are considered much older, as the newer ones have plastic handles. Find more information in the “Antique Trader Toy Price Guide.”

To find a few noisemakers, Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah’s Uniques and Jim’s “Man”tiques, St. Charles, says, “Yes I do have many party noisemakers that add a special touch on New Year’s Eve. All these items seem to be inexpensive, ranging in price up to about $6.”

Joan Thilges, of New Generations of Harmony, says, “We have a nice variety of vintage noisemakers for New Year’s Eve. An entire basket of noisemakers with some selling for just $12 and some for $6.25 each on sale.”

New Year postcards

New Year’s Day already had a long history. Some consider it as the world’s oldest holiday, dating back to ancient Babylonia.

Americans began the use of the postcard to wish friends and relatives a traditional happy New Year and to send off a short message. Postcards dating back to the 1900s and continuing to around 1913 were hot items, but by 1920 they started slowing down to a degree, giving way to the two-fold or four-fold greeting card.

Rare collectible postcards are those made in 1908 and 1909 that had the year printed on them, but those were only good for one year, and companies ceased producing them. Most vintage and antique postcards from 1900 to 1920 are valued at $6-$8. More information: “Vintage Postcards for the Holidays: Identification and Value Guide” by Robert & Claudette Reed.

Neil Hunt, of A-Z Collectibles, Winona, says, “I do have postcards with some that actually look like a Christmas card.” Kieffer always has vintage cards.

Beaded and metal mesh handbags

Beaded purses in excellent condition are becoming more rare. As the materials become more fragile with age, restoration is often needed. This includes replacing torn silk linings and the tedious task of sewing tiny seed beads back into place.

Expertly repaired bags do retain their value, but many are found in poor condition. Collectors should pay according to condition, reserving top dollar for only pristine beaded purses. Purses with a painted metal mesh made by Whiting & Davis and Mandalian in the 1920s and ’30s often show paint wear to the designs and sometimes have fringe dangles missing along the bottom edges. Links coming detached around the hinges can also present a problem.

Market prices have risen sharply over the years, with bags once considered fairly ordinary now selling for well over $100 each, but only bags in top condition can get these high prices. Metal mesh bags, especially the plain gold-tone or silver-tone versions produced by Whiting & Davis from the 1930s onward, are a little more durable. More information can be found online with Pamela Wiggins and Vintage Purses as a Collectible.

Kieffer also has some great beaded bags. “Perfect for a New Year’s Eve party and vintage clutch purses to add to a pretty dressy outfit,” she says. “My purses are selling for $5-$35.”

Thilges has evening bags as well. “You can round out the evening with your choice of lovely vintage bag selling from $10 to $20 each.”

Kristen Dickenson, of Max Boutique at Treasures Under Sugar Loaf, Winona, says, “If you are looking for that one-of-a-kind, blingy, spectacular statement piece for your New Year celebration, it is at my boutique that includes those clutch bags that can range up to $35, depending on the brand name and uniqueness.” While at this mall, find a few other vendors who also have clutch bags by Whiting & Davis.

Glassware is the most important part of a New Year’s party. Put a bit of bubbly in the glass, but the glass doesn’t have to be fancy. Check out your local thrift and antique shops, where you can actually find and be able to serve fizzy champagne in a pretty glass and call it a night. And with a large selection of different styles on the market, I am sure you will find some glasses that will help you toast in the New Year. And don’t forget the glass decanters that can range from $120 to $400.

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