The company recognized the need for advertising and branding. In 1916, it ran a contest for a trademark and Anthony Gentile, a 10-year-old boy, won with the sketch of a smiling peanut with arms and legs. It was later improved by an artist, and from 1913 to 1961, Mr. Peanut was dressed with a top hat, white spats, black arms and legs, gloves, shoes, an ebony cane and a monocle.
For a few years during World War II, he carried a gun and looked like a soldier in a hard helmet. The company still uses Mr. Peanut as a mascot, giveaway and advertising symbol.
Figurines, tall drugstore scales shaped like Mr. Peanut, costumes, books, dishes, glass jars, toys, charms, puzzles, textiles, salt and pepper shakers, silverware, even a sleeping bag and games were made. Today there is a club called Peanut Pals.
Mr. Peanut finally changed his clothes in a 2010 update. He now is seen in ads and commercials with an added white shirt, gloves, a black tie, vest, and black legs or pants.
One of the biggest Mr. Peanuts collectibles is a 1940s costume. The wearer’s legs and arms poke out the sides of the composition peanut body that fits on the person’s body. The person inside has to wear black sleeves, tights, shoes and socks that will show. Mr. Peanut’s body has holes for eyes, a nose, mouth and ears to let the person breath and talk. The head and top hat are taller than the body, making an almost 6-foot figure. One auctioned at a 2015 James Julia auction in Fairfield, Maine, for $474.
Mr. Peanut is now also a colorful star in TV commercials with the voice of Robert Downey.
To learn more about Mr. Peanut, visit Media for the Peanut Pals Club. It is a group of collectors who have a club, newsletter and annual convention.
Q: A friend has 10 Hans Wegner dining room chairs, eight side chairs and two armchairs. They were bought in Denmark in the early 1960s. They are wood with leather seats and backs. There is some cracking of the leather. Should the leather be replaced? Will this lower the value of the chairs?
A: Hans Wegner (1914-2007) was a Danish furniture designer best known for his innovative chair designs. He designed more than 500 different chairs, as well as hundreds of beds, desks, tables and lighting. Leather chairs should be kept out of the sun, away from heat, and in a room with enough humidity to keep the leather from drying out. Leather should be dusted regularly and can be cleaned with a special leather cleaner or by wiping with a damp cloth and soapy water. If the chair is unusable in its present condition, your friend should have a professional replace the leather. As long as a professional restoration is done using real leather, it will not lower the value of the chairs significantly.
Q: I have an old china tea set marked with crossed swords, a crown, and the letters “R” and “C.” I think it’s German, possibly from 1935 or 1936. Can you tell me who made it?
A: Your tea set was made by Rosenthal, a company founded by Philip Rosenthal in Selb, Bavaria, Germany, in 1880. The company used several variations of this mark between 1891 and 1907, with or without an ampersand underneath the crossed swords. Variations with “Kronach-Bavaria” were used on some china from 1901 to 1945. Rosenthal is still working. It was bought by the Waterford Wedgwood Group in 1998 and by Sambonet Paderno Industries in 2009.
Q: I have a Dionne quintuplets candy dish I think is made of silver. It has the faces of each of the girls when they were babies embossed on the bottom and their names on the rim. Is it worth anything?
A: You have a chrome (not silver) cereal bowl made in 1935 as a Quaker Oats premium commemorating the quintuplets first birthday. The Dionne quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, and were the first set of quintuplets to survive. They became world famous and were pictured in ads for Quaker Oats and several other products. Thousands of dolls and souvenir items were made picturing the girls at different ages. Emilie died in 1954, Marie in 1970, Yvonne in 2001. Annette and Cecile still live in Canada. Some are offered online for $13 to $25.
Q: I am hoping you can give me the value of a vintage Polaroid Time-Zero OneStep camera. Also wondering, do you know if film for it is still available?
A: In 1972, the Polaroid Corp. introduced its revolutionary SX-70 Land Camera. It was a single lens reflex camera in a folding metal case with leather trim. It used a new kind of film in a cassette with its own battery that instantly developed and produced a print. A later model, the Polaroid OneStep, was made from 1977 to 1980. It used the same SX-70 film pack, but had a non-folding white plastic body with Polaroid’s signature rainbow stripe. It was replaced in 1981 with the Time-Zero OneStep. The body was black plastic body with the rainbow stripe and it, too, used the SX-70 film pack. Polaroid stopped making the film for these cameras in 2008, but a group of investors, said to include some former Polaroid employees, organized The Impossible Project and began producing new instant black-and-white and color film in 2010. It is available in online shops. A Polaroid Time-Zero OneStep camera sells today from $35 to $50, but the film is pricey.
Tip: Modern bleach can damage 18th-century and some 19th-century dishes. To clean old dishes, try hydrogen peroxide or bicarbonate of soda. Each removes a different type of stain.
For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s website, Media answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovel, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
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