Question: Several years ago, I paid $10 for an old, framed, colored Christmas print at our church’s annual Yuletide Bazaar. This year, a friend who attended our family’s Christmas party suggested the art might be valuable. The print, 11 inches wide and 16 inches high, originally was a Harper’s Weekly 1881 newspaper cover signed “Thomas Nast.” It shows a child kneeling on her bed and reaching out to hug Santa as he fills her stocking. Any information you can provide about Nast and the print is appreciated. — C.C., Longport
Answer: Thomas Nast (1840-1902), the artist and caricaturist who produced your print, was born in Landau, Germany, and moved to New York City as a child.
In 1862, he joined Harper’s Weekly magazine, an important American newspaper during the last half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Harper’s news, stories, poetry, gossip, political and fashion articles were enhanced with engraved wood illustrations.
Many of Nast’s initial assignments were the production of a Civil War series as well as later pictures depicting the Restoration period.
Eventually, Nast’s art included popular, opinionated editorial cartoons that satirized major political issues.
In 1872, Nast moved his family to Morristown, Morris County. There, he created political art symbols including the Republican elephant, Democrat donkey and Uncle Sam.
Throughout the second half of the 19th century, Nast was a popular illustrator, journalist and editorial cartoonist known for his satirical art.
Although considered the father of American political cartoonists, by the second half of the 20th century, Nast was most known as the illustrator who brought to life the first American Santa Claus, through his illustrations of author Clement Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas.”
Recently, a Harper’s Weekly Nast illustration like yours sold for $212.
Question: Among some never-been-used toys donated to a local charity where I am a member is a brand new Playskool Hasbro Sesame Street animated plush toy, a 15-inch high Super Grover. The battery-operated Grover is brand new in its 15-by-18-inch box. He is bright blue, wears a bright pink cape and a silver, hinged, knight’s style helmet. There is a large leather lightning bolt and large “G” on his chest. We hope you can tell us something about this toy, its age, maker and possible worth. — D.H., Swedesboro
Answer: Grover, also known as Super Grover and Grover Monster, is the funny and lovable “Sesame Street” character that debuted on the show in 1970. Since then, he has appeared as a number of characters including a taxi driver, a flight attendant, a home renovator and a superhero — Super Grover.
Introduced as an exclusive Target interactive toy in 2011, Super Grover attended Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary celebration in November.
He presently is sought after by collectors who search for certain characters associated with Sesame Street as well as folks who collect toy superheroes.
A Super Grover in its original box brought $85 several months ago.
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.