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Antique Collectible

Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Assorted doorstops offered in the auction. Photo courtesy of Bertoia Auctions
Ordinary people. Animals. Houses. Gardens. Boats. Fish. Covered wagons. Clowns. Windmills and gnomes. You name it, you’ll find a doorstop that mimics it.

Doorstops have been around longer than many of the doors they hold open. I remember seeing a doorstop for the first time, a cloth-covered brick, in the old house where I grew up.

The place had settled over the years, and few of the doors were level. Without coaxing, they swung closed as they pleased.

Some of the oldest doorstops are from late-18th century England. The earliest ones were round and made of cast-brass. They also had a wooden handle so you could move them easily.

By 1810, doorstops without handles appeared. The varying shapes provided their own handholds. In 1820, a manufacturer in Sheffield, England started making cast-iron doorstops. You could have them painted or bronzed, and they were less expensive.

Most doorstops you see today were produced from the late-1920s to the mid-1940s, although a few manufacturers are still making them today.

You could buy a doorstop in the early-20th century in a gift shop for about $1.50.

Just about every breed of dog was reproduced from bulldogs and terriers to boxers and spaniels. Cats in every position imaginable were manufactured as well as cartoon characters like Popeye, and Donald Duck.

They’re a fun, affordable collectible, something the whole family search for at a local garage sale or auction.

“Three important factors affect the price of a doorstop, rarity, condition, and desirability,” says Jeanne Bertoia, in her book “Doorstops Identification & Values.”

As with most collectibles, the rarer the better. But what’s considered rare may change over time as the field grows and more doorstops become available for sale.

Doorstops like the Campbell kids are very desirable now although not that uncommon. They have a wonderful form and fun subject matter, and that desirability makes them attractive to collectors.
Mint condition (without any dents or bruises) is the best way to buy doorstops. Doorstops in mint condition will sell for more than doorstops in good condition. Problems like rust, and repaints can severely affect value.

On June 19 and 20, 1998, Bill Bertoia Auctions, Vineland, N.J., offered a variety of doorstops in their toy, train and doorstop sale. A rare 9½-by-7 inch, Boston terrier, full figured doorstop, with paw up, in excellent condition, sold for $495.

An early, flower basket, doorstop measuring 9-by-7 3/8 inches brought $88. A 9 3/8- by-5 inch pristine penguin from the Taylor Cook series, realized $4,620.

Donald Duck with an “enter and stop” sign, marked Walt Disney products, measuring 8¾- by-5¼ inches, in mint condition, sold for $550. A large, full figured, 13¼-by-6½ inch gnome, in good condition, brought $220.

When you invest in antique doorstops, it’s important to deal with people you trust. There are reproductions for sale cast from the original patterns, and it’s difficult sometimes to tell the difference. Hubley, a big manufacturer of doorstops, sold many of their original molds to the John Wright Company of Wrightstown, Pa. They continue to make doorstops today.

Q. I’m sending you a photo of a machinist’s level. I think it’s about 100-years-old. It has the initials M.W.R, and says Davis Pat. Can you provide additional information? Thomas Crocco, Pittsburgh, Pa.

A. Woodworking tools are divided into a number of categories: planes, saws, measuring implements, such as calipers and levels, augers and bits. There are also edged tools such as axes, and chisels.

The value of tools depends upon the type, condition and material used. Levels made from 1867 to 1900 by the Davis Level and Tool Company of Springfield, Mass., are collectible.

Handmade tools can be some of the most desirable. But there are a number of factory models that are also interesting to collectors.

For more information, contact the Long Island Antique Tool Collector’s Association at 31 Wildwood Drive, Smithtown, N.Y. 11787-3452. They promote the knowledge, appreciation and collection of antique tools and machinery.

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