What's It Worth?: Chip diminishes value of Donald Duck plate

Terry Maurer, What's It Worth?July 28, 2013 

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck meets radio in today’s What’s It Worth? Donald is on a reader’s baby dish, running a circus. The radio is another reader’s scarce and valuable table model.

Q. Donald Duck has always been a favorite in our family. We have this 8-inch-diameter baby’s feeding dish with Donald as a circus barker and ice cream vendor, but don’t know much about it. It originally belonged to my grandfather. Can you tell us something about it? — Ralph in Kennewick

A. Walt Disney was among the first to license his cartoon characters for use on products. Such was the case for Donald, the fiery-tempered, sailor suit-wearing and talkative duck Disney rolled out in 1934.

Popular from the start, in the 1940s Donald appeared in more movie cartoons than Mickey Mouse. And Donald has a strong Northwest connection — as mascot of the University of Oregon athletic teams.

This small baby’s dish was made by the Salem China Company of Salem, Ohio, some time in the mid- to late 1930s. It was part of that firm’s large “Patriot” line of dishes.

Salem China was established in 1898 and went out of business in the 1960s. During that time, the company produced hundreds of millions of pieces in more than 500 patterns in 50 or more shapes. Salem used at least 200 different back stamps. This piece has no mark at all on the back, but is well-known to collectors.

In excellent condition, it would sell for $75 to $100. The large chip on the edge decreases its value a lot; making this piece worth $20 to $30.

Incidentally, Donald has a little-known middle name — Fauntleroy.

Q. My table clock radio works well and I think it is really good looking. It is a Crosley. Can you give me an idea of the age and value? — Ron in Walla Walla

A. This is the Crosley D-25-BE clock radio, called the “dashboard” by collectors. It dates from 1953, when Crosley changed up the previous model design and added new colors.

It is called a “dashboard” because it resembles the styling of auto dashboards of the mid-1950s The designation “BE” is the color code for this silver model.

Crosley entered the radio business about 1920, when the son of the American inventor and entrepreneur Powel Crosley asked for a radio.

Radios were new back then and Crosley was shocked to find they all cost at least $100. So, instead of buying a radio, he purchased a book on the subject and he and his son built their own receiver.

The set worked well, and by 1924 Crosley was the largest radio manufacturer in the world.

A prolific inventor with a very creative mind, Crosley started in the auto business, building cars as early as 1907. The company went on to produce phonograph cabinets, a non-electric refrigerator, some of the first car radios and a device to “stimulate hair growth.” Lots of things. And, everything came with a new marketing scheme — a money-back guarantee.

Crosley was interested in broadcasting, so in the 1920s he started WLW radio as a 50-watt station and eventually installed a 500,000-watt transmitter. It was the most powerful station in America.

Crosley also was interested in professional sports, so in 1934 he bought the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. The next year, the first big league night baseball game was played under the new lights at his Crosley Field.

This table radio is considered an icon of mid-century design and is getting hard to find. It is worth at least $150 and in excellent condition can sell for as much as $300 or more.

A very popular model with collectors, it is an AM radio with an alarm clock and a special feature.

There is an outlet for appliances on one side which is activated at the time the alarm is set to go off.

So, it will even start your morning coffee. Really.

- Terry Maurer, Tri–Cities personal property appraiser, is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. For possible use in a future column, direct questions on your antiques and collectibles to What’s It Worth? by email to tchwhatsitworth@gmail.com.

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