Question: I am the sole heir and executor for the estate of a cousin who recently died. Among a number of collectibles he purchased over the years are things I plan to sell. First is something noted on the list as “Set of 4 Beatles 1964 Bobble Head Nodder Dolls Car Mascot.” It is comprised of four standing 8-inch-high Beatles Head Nodder Dolls dressed in matching gray suits, each holding his instrument. All are tagged “Applause, Inc.” I would like information about the maker, how much the set is worth and am especially interested in knowing what a Car Mascot is. — M.M., Sea Isle City
Answer: Applause, Inc. is the company that made the set. Originally a division of the Knickerbocker Toy Company, when the firm was purchased by the Wallace Berrie Company, it soon became Applause.
Produced in Japan, each original Beatle nodder in your set is known as a car mascot, the title originally given to specially crafted hood ornaments that were symbols of many automobile makers. Popular from the 1920s to the 1950s, hood ornaments decorated car radiator caps as a focal point for an automobile’s identification.
Although they take a back seat to hood ornaments, each sculptured head of a Beatle in your set is mounted on a tempered steel spring. When the quartet is placed on the rear window platform of a moving automobile, the singers’ heads move in harmony.
Presently, there is an active market for collectible car mascots. In April and May of this year, a Beatles car mascot set like yours sold for $1,750, another brought $1,099.99 and a “near mint” model $900.
Question: While attending a sale of items left by the former owner of a group of small stores and a barber shop, I bought a 7 1/2-inch-high, 5 1/2-inch-wide standing ceramic figure of a jolly, old-fashioned barber with a handlebar mustache, white apron, bow tie and his arm around a small, upright barber pole. Titled “Young Looie and Barber Pole Razor Blade Bank” on the sales sheet, the bank has a yellow foil sticker with printed “Hand Painted Tilso Japan” pasted on its bottom. The sales manager believes it may be more valuable than the $25 I paid for it, and I hope you can add information. — R.P., Mount Holly.
Answer: Your circa 1930s razor blade bank is typical of ceramic figures produced by a number of factories to receive used blades. Later, most of the blades were discarded by dropping them into a slot located in the back of a bathroom medicine cabinet where they fell down between wall studs to a safe storage spot below.
The New York City Tilso Japanese Import Co. noted on your bank’s sticker was founded by L. Batlin and Son, formerly antiques dealers. Established after the Great Depression, Tilso began importing popular ceramic items made in Japan until World War II. After the war ended, Tilso continued in that business through 1976.
Folks who search for mid-twentieth century ceramic household items buy Tilso vases, containers, salt and pepper shakers, tea pots, cookie jars, beer steins and figures, now treasured collectibles.
A Young Looie and Barber Pole Blade Bank with no paint loss, glaze crazing or chips and complete with its original barber pole sold this year for $77. Offerings for banks with missing original barber poles, often broken off and replaced with a single-edge razor, are worth much less.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Living section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Email: treasuresby email@example.com. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.