The hen that laid the chocolate egg
By RALPH and TERRY KOVEL
Published May 5, 2007
Vending machines have been used to sell merchandise since the days of the ancient Greeks, when holy water was dispensed for a coin. But the metal mechanical machines seen today were introduced in the United States in 1888, when the Thomas Adams Gum Co. put vending machines on New York City subway platforms to sell Tutti-Fruiti gum. A piece was dispensed in a machine for a penny.
Soon, almost anything was sold from a coin-operated machine, including perfume, books, postcards, stamps, tobacco, sandwiches, candy, toys and sanitary products in public bathrooms.
One of the most unusual vending machines was the iron "Egg-Laying Hen" machine. A tall stand held a basketlike "nest" topped by a setting hen. Insert a coin and the hen laid a chocolate egg. The German machine was often filled with wrapped chocolate eggs made by Hartwig & Vogel, a famous chocolate firm in Czechoslovakia.
The machine, made about 1935, must have enticed many children to part with a penny to get that special piece of chocolate. A few years ago, the machine enticed a collector to pay $2, 033.
Roseville stands often weren't marked
Q: I bought a large Roseville jardiniere on a pedestal 20 years ago for $35. The jardiniere is marked, but the pedestal is not. Does that mean the pedestal is not Roseville?
A: No. Roseville stands often were not marked, because they were sold with matching - and marked - jardinieres. A lot of Roseville pieces have been reproduced, but it is likely that your jardiniere and pedestal are authentic. A faker probably would have marked both pieces.
Alligator purses with claws popular in '30s
Q: My teenage daughter is delighted with an old purse she found at her grandmother's house. It is made of alligator leather. The claws of the reptile, including fingernails - or would they be toenails? - are attached on one side of the purse. How old is this style?
A: In the 1930s, alligator purses were popular and expensive. Purses with claws like yours were made then. Some handbags included the alligator head along with the claws.
Questions of general interest will be answered in the column. Send questions to Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
- Fishing license, Minnesota, 1927, nonresident, button style, celluloid, 1 3/4 inches, $90.
- Sgt. Bilko sliding-tile puzzle game, plastic, Rolex Co., 1960s, on original card, $125.
- Nancy Ann doll, Her Royal Majesty the Queen, blue eyes, brown curly hair, embroidered tulle gown over silver metallic underskirt, jewels, purple sash, 1953, 18 inches, $700.
- Fulper pottery wisteria glaze vase, purple and blue flambe dripped down shoulder, marked, 17 1/2 inches, $865.
- General Electric radio, Model L570, Catalin, yellow, 1941, 6 by 9 by 6 inches, $1, 260.
- Steuben "Partridge in a Pear Tree" sculpture, clear glass, gold-metal partridge, signed, 5 3/4 inches, $2, 075.
[Last modified May 4, 2007, 12:21:11]
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