Question: Years ago, my husband and I attended a “going out of business” sale held by a Philadelphia law firm. We bought several items, including a dark blue, rock-shaped, molded glass paperweight embossed with a gold “1620” date. The item’s underside is imprinted with “Inkstand Co. Prov. RI,” “Pilgrim Rock Trademark 1876” and a short poem about the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth Rock. We are curious about this item’s age, maker and if it is valuable. — D.S., Williamstown
Answer: Your purchase, known as the Plymouth Rock paperweight, bears a gilt reminder of the English Pilgrim settlers who in 1620 arrived at New Plymouth in what is now the state of Massachusetts. They established Plymouth Colony that year.
The solid glass cobalt-blue paperweight is one of many made by the Providence Inkstand Co., in Providence, Rhode Island. The company was originally organized by Samuel Darling to manufacture and sell patented bronze and glass inkstands and patented pen cleaners.
Darling’s Plymouth Rock paperweight was specifically designed and produced by Providence Inkstand to be offered as a souvenir at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia.
Currently found in a number of museums, Provident Inkstand Co. cobalt “1620” paperweights attract folks who collect a variety of glass, cobalt, historical and souvenir examples. This year, a 1620 in excellent condition fetched $550.
Question: I own a collection of bobblehead dolls given to me years ago by a friend. I want to sell most of them and need information about a 7¼-inch-high plaster Colonel Sanders model and KFC. My Colonel wears a white suit, black-rimmed glasses, carries a black cane in one hand and a bag of fried chicken in the other. He is in his original, somewhat damaged box marked “Tops Enterprises, Inc., Arlington VA.” — A.E., Marmora
Answer: You have one of the original 1960s Colonel Sanders bobbleheads, a Kentucky Fried Chicken Corp. advertising piece featuring founder Harland Sanders (1890-1980). He was named an honorary Kentucky colonel by his state in 1935.
Established in Corbin, Kentucky, Sanders Court & Cafe original restaurant became famous after the colonel discovered a special way to fry chicken in a 1939 pressure cooker. By the late 1950s, his company was a very successful fast-food franchise operation, which he sold for $2 million in 1964. The colonel was retained for advertising purposes until he died in 1980. Six years later, Pepsi Co. purchased KFC for $845 million.
Throughout the years, Colonel Sanders’ likeness appeared on a vast assortment of KFC items, including banks, salt and pepper shakers, weathervanes, toy trucks and Lionel trains, lamps, transistor radios, sunscreen, masks, clothing, glassware, pottery and many other promotional pieces collected by KFC fans and folks who search for a variety of fast-food marketing merchandise.
KFC Colonel bobbleheads were produced for many years as a number of different editions, originally in the U.S. and later in Japan. Your first edition is especially sought after because it is made of molded plaster, not the plastic later used to form Colonel figures. Additionally, since plaster is much more fragile than plastic, fewer early models are available. A 1960s plaster edition with no damage or missing paint sold for $90 last year.