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Cookie jars fun to collect, but watch for knockoffs

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Q: I love cookie jars and recently began collecting them. Although I’ve purchased most of the ones in my collection on eBay, I occasionally find one at a local flea market or thrift shop. Do you think they are a good investment? They are getting more and more difficult to find. – Paula, Tucson

A: Before I answer your question, let me share a personal story. During the early 1950s, I raced home from school each afternoon on my bicycle so that I wouldn’t miss a single minute of “The Howdy Doody Show.” The broadcast featured a marionette with 48 freckles – a freckle for each state of the union – and an assortment of other characters that included the host, Buffalo Bob Smith, Clarabelle Hornblow, a story princess, Flubadub, and Phineas T. Bluster. Just before my birthday in 1953, I spotted a Howdy Doody cookie jar in a catalog and coaxed my mother to fork out the $3.98 for it. She did and the cookie jar occupied a place in our family kitchen well into the next decade. Eventually, I left home and mother donated “Howdy” to a thrift shop. Imagine my chagrin when I recently discovered that Howdy Doody cookie jars now routinely sell for well above $500. Incidentally, “The Howdy Doody Show” debuted on NBC in 1947 and continued until 1960, quite a lengthy run for a kids’ show.

Although the feeding frenzy has cooled with collectors in recent years and prices have softened, cookie jars are nevertheless still popular. Even common jars from good manufacturers often sell in the $50-$100 range. Some of the better companies include American Bisque, Brush, McCoy, Metlox, Regal, Shawnee, and Treasure Craft. Treasure Craft marketed a “saguaro” cookie jar in Tucson during the 1970s. Originally selling for about $7 at Steinfeld’s Department Store, it is still a popular design and occasionally pops up in local shops for about $50, in new to excellent condition.

Collectors should be cautious when buying cookie jars. Reproductions have flooded the marketplace and the Mammy Cookie Jar marked McCoy might be a knock-off. Do your homework, examine the jars carefully for chips, cracks and other flaws and learn as much as you can about current values.

A quick check of eBay revealed several interesting examples including Mother Goose by McCoy, $90; Dopey from Snow White by Treasure Craft, $150; Frog Prince by Metlox, $60; Dutch Girl by Shawnee, $220; and Betty Boop by Clay Art, $40.

One of the better groups is the American Cookie Jar Association, which has about 200 members nationwide. Dues are $10 per year and membership includes an excellent newsletter. The contact information is 4005 Spyglass Lane, Bethany, OK 73008, and www.cookiejarclub.com.

Q: Several months ago, you referenced a price guide for Vietnam-era collectibles. Could you please repeat that information? – Carlos, Tucson

A: It is Warman’s Vietnam War Collectibles: Identification and Price Guide by David Doyle (Krause, $24.99). This excellent guide is arranged by branch of service and user-friendly to navigate. For a local expert, I highly recommend one of our better dealers, Jeff Albiniak, cwbuffster@aol.com, and 514-2195.

FIND OF THE WEEK

Since railroad-related china is difficult to find, it was a pleasant surprise to spot a display case brimming with examples from various Fred Harvey hotels in Arizona including La Posada, the Painted Desert Inn, and El Tovar. This distinctive La Posada Hotel blue chain pattern is available for $60 for a cup and saucer and $55 for a dinner plate, at Copper Country Antique Mall, 5055 E. Speedway, Booth 17.

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