Discover Vintage America - February 2014

Converse dollhouses reflected American homes

Q: I have this old dollhouse that belonged to my father-in-law. He also has a lot of wooden animals that are marked "German Erzgebirge Putz" and I know these are from the 1920s. The house does not have any labels or marks on it.

A: Based on my experience and research I don't think that your dollhouse is German. The stenciling directly on the wood and the design work look like that of the Morton E. Converse & Son Company of Massachusetts from the early 1900s. The Converse Co. tended to make dollhouses that looked like the homes children saw in their neighborhoods each day and this looks like a bungalow house.
There is also the absence of a country of origin mark, which was required by federal law for imports during this time period.

Your dollhouse would sell in the $500-$600 range as it appears to be in very good cosmetic condition.
As to your Erzgebirge Putz wooden animals; the Erzgebirge region of Germany is known for many things and wooden toy production is one of them dating back to the mid-1700s. In the mid-19th century a school was established to train people on the creation of quality wooden toys. They tend to make entire villages or scenes including the people, furniture, animals, etc.

Depending upon the animals that you have the price range starts around $40 for a rather plain cow or dog up to several hundred dollars for giraffes and more exotic animals.


Bound volume of newspapers from 1912

Q: We found a very large book from our great-great-grandfather. It is shrink wrapped for protection so we don't want to unwrap it yet but we can read this on the outside binding of the book "The Spokesman Review Daily November 1912." The book is about two feet in length and about 1 1/2 feet wide. It is a hardcover nicely bound book. We are curious if this has any historical value?

A: You have a bound volume of the newspapers for the month of November 1912 from the newspaper in Spokane, WA called "The Sportsman Review." The newspaper is still in operation.
Some of the bound newspapers contain only the important news of the day but most contain the entire paper for each day it was printed.

These were for use in a library or a means for the newspaper to store back issues of the publication. As technology has progressed and additional storage space was required, these bound volumes were thrown away or given to anyone who was interested in them.

As for value, this is largely based on the historic content. For the month and year of your bound papers, the woman's suffrage movement was gaining ground around the country. Woodrow Wilson was elected president, Jim Thorpe was playing football as was future President Dwight Eisenhower. You can check Wikipedia to see the events for that period of time.

It would be okay to unwrap the volume and actually it would prolong the life of the paper if it had air circulation. Old newsprint is pretty stable just be careful in how you handle the volume and I would recommend storing it by keeping it flat.

The value for your particular bound volume of newspapers is $20-$30 per volume. If it were from a larger newspaper or contained some significant historic events the price would be greater.

** The photo shown was not provided by the person who asked the question. It is from a friend's collection of bound newspaper volumes.

Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.

Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. Her online Q&A column is now active!