Question: When my husband’s great-grandmother died several years ago, I received a box of her costume jewelry dating from the 1930s and ’40s. Although I wear very few of the pieces, I have always been curious about a gold, 1-inch-wide, 1½-inch-long working mouth-blown whistle that hangs on a 28-inch-long gold chain. The whistle is marked “Tiffany & Co.” “18 K” and the chain’s mark is “14.” Thank you for any information you can provide about this jewelry and its maker. — A.M., Cape May
Answer: Your solid gold whistle-on-chain necklace is one of the famous Tiffany & Co. jewelry designs that captured the interest and dollars of many fashionable women during the 1930s.
Founded in 1837 by Charles Louis Tiffany and his partner John B. Young, as Tiffany & Young, the firm initially was a stationary store located in Connecticut. In 1838, the company moved to New York, first locating at Broadway, later on Fifth Avenue and eventually owning shops with worldwide addresses.
Tiffany published its first mail order catalog known as the “Blue Book” in 1845, bought the Edward C. Moore Silver Co. in 1868, introduced “Tiffany,” the company’s first sterling flatware pattern, in 1869 and soon became America’s premiere silversmith and seller of fine jewels and clocks.
By 1900, Tiffany was a world leader in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts Movements, specializing in leaded glass and enameled jewels. In 1978, the company was sold to Avon Products Inc. and was sold again in 1984.
Last year, a 1930s, 18 K working Tiffany whistle pendant with a 28-inch-long, 14 K gold chain in original jewelry pouch and box sold for $700.
Question: Several years ago, while visiting a community yard sale, my wife and I came upon and purchased a large collection of like-new old Cracker Jack prizes. Since then, I built a special display case for the collection, and we are adding to it. We hope you can provide some information about Cracker Jack and two “prizes”: a blue glass Boston terrier marked “Czechia” and a black celluloid kitten sitting in a black high-heel shoe. Any help is appreciated. — C.S. & E.S., Ocean City
Answer: A forerunner of the tasty, sticky American snack later known as Cracker Jack was introduced in 1893 at the World’s Colombian Exposition by Rueckheim and Brothers located in Chicago.
In 1908, their product received free global publicity when the hit song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” repeatedly requested someone, “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.”
Originally sold only as a mixture of molasses flavored, caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts, by 1912 a small “prize” was placed in each Cracker Jack package promising, “A prize in every box,” and the snack’s name was registered.
Most early prizes were rings, toy figures, stickers, booklets and temporary tattoos manufactured in Japan and by Tootsie Toy until World War II, when they were made of paper throughout the duration.
Your blue glass Boston Terrier, one of many Cracker Jack prizes made in Czechoslovakia during the 1930s, is a favorite of collectors. One recently sold for $55. The celluloid cat-in-shoe brought $9 this year.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.