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Terry Kovel, Published August 09 2013

Kovel: Dolls by Lenci remain popular with collectors

Lenci is a famous name among doll collectors. Lenci dolls were first made by Elena Konig Scavini (1886-1974). She ran away from home when she was 14 and joined a circus. A few years later, she started making dolls.

In the early 1900s, she married Enrico Scavini, and by 1919 she had established the Scavini company to make dolls. By 1922 the company was listed as Lenci di E. Scavini. “Lenci” may have been a pet name for Elena. Her felt dolls were carefully made, with pouty mouths, googly eyes and elaborate felt costumes. They were expensive. The single word “Lenci” was used as a trademark as early as 1925.

The company later had financial trouble and was sold in 1939. It closed in 2002.

Lenci dolls are very popular with collectors, but few know about the company’s line of “fetish dolls.” They were shaped like vegetables or flowers or imaginary creatures. Fetish dolls were introduced in 1926. A later group was made in the 1960s. One rare fetish doll is a grasshopper wearing a top hat. A collector paid $336 for it at an important Theriault’s doll auction in November 2012.

Q: My vintage gold-tone pocket cigarette lighter is marked “Regel pat. pend.” History and value?

A: Regel lighters were made in Rhode Island in the 1930s. Most were marketed under the brand name “Regeliter.” The mechanism, manufactured by Regel under a German patent that belonged to Altenpohl & Pilgram, is not considered safe today. But your lighter still is collectible. If it’s in good condition, it would sell for about $40.

Q: About 10 years ago, I rescued an old stove from a land dump. It’s 31 inches tall and 15 inches in diameter. A metal plate on it reads “Wetter’s Emerald” and “211.” Can you tell me something about this stove?

A: H. Wetter & Co. was in business in Memphis, Tenn., before 1883. The company was listed that year as “jobbers, agents and dealers in stoves, tinware, hardware, etc.” The factory in Memphis burned down in 1902, and the company moved production to an old stove factory in South Pittsburg, Tenn. The company was reorganized in about 1931 and became the United States Stove Co. The South Pittsburg factory was razed in 2003, but the United States Stove Co. is still in business, with facilities in Richard City, Tenn., and Bridgeport, Ala.

Q: My old copper bowl is so tarnished that I can’t get it clean. Any suggestions?

A: First, make sure your bowl is not from a famous maker. Check the bottom for a mark. If you find a mark, you may want to think twice about cleaning it. The patina that builds up through the years protects copper from corrosion, and some collectors don’t want the patina removed.

But if the bowl is not valuable, you can buy a commercial cleaner at a hardware store or try a couple of home remedies. If the bowl is small, fill a zinc-free pot with enough water to cover the bowl. Add a tablespoon of salt and a cup of vinegar. Put the bowl in the pot, bring the water to a boil and let it boil for several hours. Take the bowl out, let it cool, wash it with liquid dishwashing soap, rinse and dry with a soft cloth.

Tarnish often can be removed by using a mixture of vinegar, salt and a bit of flour and water. Or try tomato paste or a mixture of salt and lemon juice. Do not use abrasive cleaners or steel wool.

Q: After my husband died, I was going through his things and found a dollar “silver certificate” autographed by actress Ingrid Bergman. The bill is from “Series 1935A” and is signed by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. My husband never said anything about the bill’s history. What is it worth, and how I can sell it?

A: Silver certificates were issued from 1878 to 1964 and could be redeemed for silver dollars or silver bullion. After a certificate was redeemed, it was destroyed and not recirculated. Early silver certificates were larger than today’s dollar bill, and are worth more than face value. Small certificates, like those in your series, were first issued in 1928. The government stopped redeeming the certificates for silver in June 1968, but the certificates still can be used as “legal tender” at face value.

Your certificate without Ingrid Bergman’s autograph would be worth just $1, but her autograph on a 3-by-5-inch card sold at auction for $100 last year. So, your certificate probably is worth about that much if the autograph is genuine.

Tip

Keep old, worn, vintage doll accessories. Even if you substitute new accessories, save the old ones. They add value.

For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s website, www.kovels.com