Father's World War I toy figures worth checking out

Representation of World War I-era toy solider/car collection.

Courtesy of John Sikorski
Published: Saturday, August 10, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.

Q: I inherited my father's collection of toy soldiers and cars that are at least 90 years old. The collection consists of 18 World War I soldiers marked "Elastolin, Germany," 15 West Point cadets, 32 trucks, cars, farm equipment and canons, (some marked "Tootsie").

Also in the collection are a World War I lead motorcycle, 16 cowboys and Indians, seven on horseback, 11 miscellaneous soldiers, three troopers on horseback, four Scottish soldiers and four British band members. I am hoping you can give me some guidance as to the value of this collection and how I might sell it.

— R.B., Internet

A: All the toys you have are of collectible interest. I think it would be wise to check with a couple of auction companies that specialize in toys. At the top of the ladder is the well-known Bertoia Auction. The website is The other big boy on the block is Ted Hake Auctions. The website is Good luck, and let us know how things work out.

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Q: We have a folk art or Tramp Art jewelry box with mirror. The piece is 20 inches tall and 6 inches deep. On the inside of the bottom drawer is the date "12-1-22," and the creator's signature initials or logo. There is some minor damage to one of the panels on the lower right side of the piece.

Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

— V.T., Internet

A: Tramp Art has been a category of collecting for decades. Early on in the collecting fever, it was thought that these pieces of furniture, from large to small, were made by hobos. Several in-depth studies about the subject made it clear that these novel pieces were made by individuals in their spare time, e.g., farmers during the winter season, etc., not hobos. Makers used discarded materials and cigar box pieces, applying chip carving to the edges. They were made from the last quarter of the 19th century and on into the 1930s. Your Tramp Art jewelry box would sell in the $50 to $100 range.

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Q: About 15 years ago I bought some pictures from a friend, and she told me that she owned them for about five years. They are in good shape, oil-on-canvas paintings in beautiful wood frames. There are three. In two of the photos you can see the signature, "Tommy and Emerson." The one with the little boat and the bird picture has a signature in the back, "Fredik" or "Fredic."

— L.M., Ocala

A: I was not able to find any information about the artists' names you ask about. The still life of flowers and the winter landscape have a commercial-grade quality look. Potential dollar value is catch-as-catch-can.

The other picture of the capsized rowboat with two ducks about to land in the water is the most salable of the three. Potential dollar value is catch-as-catch-can.

John Sikorski is an Ocala antiques dealer. He hosts a call-in radio show, "Sikorski's Attic,'' on WUFT-FM (89.1 FM). It can be heard each Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. Send your questions to Sikorski's Attic, c/o The Gainesville Sun, 2700 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608-2015; or email

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