History becomes more interesting if you learn about it through objects and stories. It’s the “rest of the story” that adds to the fun. A large pail that once held Dan Patch Roasted Coffee auctioned recently for $2,035. The brightred can features a horse and rider in a harness race. The can is colorful, 11½ inches tall and very decorative, but the price was boosted by the history it represents. Dan Patch was a brown horse, a pacer, born in Indiana in 1896. He broke the world’s record for a harness race in 1906, and it took 32 years for another horse to go faster. He never lost a race. He was a celebrity, and coffee wasn’t the only product named for him. Cars and washing machines and cigars bore his name, and so did popular toys. Crowds followed his appearances and as many as 100,000 people went to see the horse, which, according to reports, “radiated charisma.” Dan Patch received fan mail and gifts while making as much as $1 million in a year. He retired from racing in 1909 and died in 1916. He remained a star for many years after his death, partly because his world record was not broken uesl until 1938. Streets named Dan Patch still exist. Dan Patch Stadium is at a high school in Savage, Minn., where the horse lived sf after he was purchased by a Minnesotan in 1902. An annual Dan Patch Day festival is celebrated in his hometown ofo Oxford, Ind., and another annual Dan Patch Day is held in Savage. Books have been written about him, a movie was made about his life in 1949 and he’s mentioned in a song from the 1957 Broadway musical, “The Music Man.” But Dan Patch Ground Coffee was named for the horse well before the days of movies and television. You can still find Dan Patch memorabilia in Savage, Minn., today. Go to the Savage Depot Coffee Shop, the Razors Edge Barber Shop or the local library.
Q: I inherited two antique Mettlach steins that were appraised six years ago for $1,700 each. I have been trying to sell them online and locally for less than that, but I have gotten no takers. Some dealers have made insulting remarks about my pricing. What’s going on?
A: Some Mettlach steins in mint condition can sell for $1,700 or even more, but many sell for a lot less. Price depends on the rarity of a particular stein. In addition, you’re dealing with a niche market and may not be reaching interested buyers. Try contacting a national auction house that focuses on steins. You will find several online.
Q: My grandmother, who was born in 1886, left her favorite rocking chair to me. She lived in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and the chair is labeled “Webster Mfg. Co., Superior, Wis.” The chair is oak and has a pressed design in the back’s crest above six turned spindles. What can you tell me?
A: Webster Manufacturing Co. of Superior, Wis., was making chairs by the 1890s. In its early years, it was called the Webster Chair Co. By 1915 it was a major American chair manufacturer and had opened a factory in at least one other city. It appears to have gone out of business during the Depression. Pressed oak chairs like yours were especially popular in the late 19th century, so it is likely your chair dates from that period. Depending on its condition, it would sell for $100 or more.
Q: I have a kerosene lamp marked “Queen Anne” and “Scovill Mfg. Co.” I know it’s about 100 years old. Can you give me some information about it?
A: Scovill Manufacturing Co. opened in 1802 in Waterbury, Conn., under the name Abel Porter & Co. It made brass buttons and operated under various names and owners through the years. James Mitchell Lamson Scovill and William H. Scovill eventually took over the business, which was incorporated as Scovill Manufacturing Co. in 1850. Scovill made brass lamps, artillery fuses, munitions, medals, daguerreotype plates, cameras and other items. After 1866 it also made coin blanks for the U.S. Mint. Scovill holds several patents for improvements to lamp burners. “Queen Anne” is a type of burner that was in common use in the late 1800s. It was made by Scovill and other companies. New Queen Anne burners are available today for repair and restoration of old lamps. Scovill is still in business, with headquarters in Clarkesville, Ga. Today the company makes fasteners for clothing and light industrial use and holds a patent for the gripper snap, introduced in the 1930s. Your lamp was probably made in the late 1800s.
If all parts are original, it is worth about $100 to
Tip: An unglazed rim on the bottom of a plate usually indicates it was made before 1850.
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