Diminished demand for collector plates affects value

This ‘Gone with the Wind’ collector plate, titled ‘The Proposal,’ is No. 4 in a 12-plate series showing Rhett Butler proposing marriage to Scarlett O’Hara. One of the series still drawing the interest of collectors, complete ‘Gone with the Wind’ sets have sold for as much as $300 during the past year.

Question: I inherited about 150 collector plates my late father purchased during the 1970s and 1980s, some from the Bradford Exchange. The plates' countries of origin include the U.S., Russia, Germany and the Orient. I am interested in knowing about them and if they are valuable. - J.D.

Answer: Although decorative plates have been collected for centuries, soaring interest from the 1970s to 1990 is attributed to the 1973 founding of the Bradford Galleries Exchange by J. Roderick MacArthur.

Located near Chicago, the company - originally the center of a secondary collectors market - soon became an important producer and marketer of a wide range of plates and other collectibles for the primary market.

Unfortunately, like Hummel and Precious Moments figurines, Beanie Babies and Cabbage Patch Kid dolls, interest in and values of collector plates have steadily plummeted for some time. During a recent month, only 138 of 1,000 plates offered at an online auction were sold and most brought $7 to $10.

Popular plates presently include examples associated with David O. Selznick's "Gone with the Wind" movie, baseball, space-related subjects and Coca-Cola. Some foreign favorites are Russian fairy tales, legends and "The Golden Ring" series, Chinese "Red Mansion" and "Garden" series as well as German artist Sulamith Wulfing's "Christmas Angels." A number of these plates appear on the list you provided.

Your pictured "Gone with the Wind" "The Proposal" plate showing Rhett Butler's marriage proposal to Scarlett O'Hara is part of a 12-plate series signed by artist Howard Rogers. Made by the W.S. George Pottery Co. from 1988 to 1990, the set honors the movie's golden anniversary and has fetched as much as $300 during the past year.

Question: I recently received the 10-inch high Donald Duck figure shown in my photos and wonder if it has value. A stamped "122273" is the only mark on it. - D.E., Manahawkin

Answer: Your unpainted figure appears to be wooden and possibly carved by hand. "122273" represents a patent number for the Donald Duck design granted to Walt Disney Productions in 1949. The patent number was used by the company from that date until 1984. All Disney items produced under license between 1939 and 1986 also were marked "Walt Disney Productions" or "WDP."

During that period, Donald Duck figures made of rubber, metal, glass, ceramics, celluloid, cloth and wood were made in the U.S. and foreign countries. Figures with a traditional carved-wood look fashioned from dough composed of rice powder and flour were created in Taiwan, while primitive, hand-carved Donalds were made in Japan. Such figures, often with Oriental attributes, were not licensed and did not bear Walt Disney Productions marks. Based on size and condition, your figure currently is valued at $8 to $15.

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. E-mail: treasures17@comcast.net

Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.

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