Question: This book, 9 1/4 inches high, was old when I received it as a child. "Raphael Tuck & Sons Co. Ltd" and "Father Tuck's Sunny Days" are printed on it. The book will be one of my granddaughter's Christmas presents and I would appreciate information about it that I can include with my gift. - G.W., Maple Shade
Answer: Raphael Tuck & Sons, a London art publishing company with offices in Berlin, New York, Paris and Montreal, was founded in 1866 and received Queen Victoria's Royal Warrant in 1883. Until a merger in 1982, the family-owned firm employed lithographers, printers, engravers and artists to produce postcards and greeting cards, books, puzzles, paper dolls, scripture mottoes, scrapbooks and other printed pictorials.
By 1880, Tuck was holding company-sponsored contests that offered cash prizes to artists who submitted the best designs for English Christmas greetings. The contests' extensive publicity quickly inspired the worldwide custom of exchanging Christmas cards, and postcard art competitions soon followed. Sadly, Ger-many's 1940 Blitz destroyed Tuck's London offices and more than 40,000 original art submissions stored there.
Your 12-page, 1890's die-cut "My Dolly" shape book with two color illustrations is one of the Father Tuck's "Sunny Days" children's verse series. The popular, inexpensive book, initially printed in Germany in 1895, also was offered as part of Father Tuck's "Doll Baby" series. Asking prices for examples in very good to excellent condition range from $65 to $85 and a book in good condition is valued at $20 to $30.
Question: We own 12 wrapped bottles of 1949 Piper Heidsieck Brut champagne that have been stored in a wooden crate. Is this champagne rare and does it have value? - P.D., Bridgeton
Answer: Supposedly sipped by Queen Marie Antoinette, Piper Heidsieck champagne has been enjoyed by royalty, celebrities, artists, yachtsmen and fashion mavens for centuries. A dry, sparkling wine first produced in France's Champagne region in 1785 by Henry G. Piper and Christian Heidsieck, Piper Heidsieck Brut continues to symbolize excellence and elegant, spirited style.
Wine expert, Michael Bray, owner of Passion Vines wine shop in Somers Point, contacted the Piper Heidsieck company for information about your champagne. He reports that although 1949 was "a good year" there are critical questions concerning your wine's storage that must be answered in order to determine value. However, based on the recent sale of a 1945 bottle of the champagne, Bray estimates the worth of each of your bottles at a minimum of $1,200, if the wine is perfect.
Bray added that such "treasure wines" are tested by popping a bottle that is shared by serious, knowledgeable champagne aficionados who will evaluate the quality and composition of the champagne.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist whose consulting firm, Treasures Unlimited, is based in southern New Jersey. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email:
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