Question: Is it possible for you to tell me something about a 1950s small blue plastic radio that is among many things I inherited when my brother died? It looks like a miniature vending cooler. “Ice Cold” is printed on a corner and the red Pepsi-Cola logo appears on its front. — P.B., Hammonton
Answer: During the early 1890s, young American pharmacist Caleb Bradham (1867-1934) experimented with various soda flavors at his New Bern, North Carolina, drugstore. Soon, he created “Brad’s Drink,” advertised as an invigorating aid to digestion and officially named Pepsi-Cola in 1898.
By 1904, after he had turned Pepsi-Cola into a full-time business by selling thousands of gallons of Pepsi-Cola syrup, Bradham began bottling his beverage, establishing a company that continues to be a worldwide leader in the soft drinks market.
Throughout the years, Pepsi-Cola has been advertised on signs, billboards, cigarette lighters, paper articles, toys, jewelry, glassware and novelties that include radios. Today, many of the items are collected by folks who search for Pepsi-Cola pieces as well as other advertising items.
Last year, a 1950s Pepsi-Cola cooler-style electric radio sold for $550.
Question: I recently was told that an oval, 3-inch long, clear glass paperweight decorated with a colored photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt might be worth a lot of money because “Bully…for Simpson Golf Clubs” is printed on the picture. Since it was purchased by my late mother many years ago, I know nothing about it and would appreciate any information you can provide. — G.R., Glassboro
Answer: When similar legitimate paperweights associated with several important, talented men whose achievements spanned the late 19th and early 20th centuries are offered, they usually are described in glowing terms and offered for sale at high prices.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was an American statesman, leader of the Rough Riders, governor of New York and U.S. vice president before becoming the 26th president of the United States.
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), son of prominent Philadelphia parents, is the artist who created the portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt that appears on your paperweight. Sargent, who studied art in Europe, painted Theodore Roosevelt’s portrait in 1903, a year after Roosevelt became president following President William McKinley’s 1902 assassination.
The “Simpson Golf Clubs” blurb refers to popular, expensive golf clubs made by Scot Robert Simpson and his brothers, all well-known players, teachers and innovative craftsmen who created fine clubs for golfers around the world.
Unfortunately, from the late 1990s until the early 2000s, the prestige and fame of Roosevelt, Sargent and Simpson were merged and manipulated via copiers who generated factory-produced “fantasy” fakes by placing existing computer images in new, empty glass paperweights. In this instance, a book image of Sargent’s Roosevelt portrait was combined with the Simpson ad.
Currently, the fantasy fakes can be purchased for $10 to $15, when they are in excellent condition.