May 25, 2018
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Artifacts from historic Chicago theater still draw collectors

By Danielle Arnet, Tribune Media Services

Q: What can you tell us about our identical wall sconces? We bought them in the 1960s from a Chicago dealer who told us they came from the Garrick Theater. We wired them for electricity.

A: Seen in images sent, the reader has three sconces.

Oak Park, Ill., gallery owner John Toomey, a specialist in furniture and accessories of the Arts and Crafts movement,, viewed the images and confirmed that the sconces are indeed from what was the Garrick Theater in Chicago.

Toomey identified the sconces as Prairie style, a design movement that overlapped Arts and Crafts. Think of Frank Lloyd Wright and you have the exemplar of Prairie style.

To clue readers, the Garrick was originally the Schiller Theater Building, opened in 1892. Designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, it was, at the time, one of the tallest buildings in the city. The theater held more than 1,000 seats. In the early 1900s, it became the Garrick Theater.

Demolished amid hue and outcry in the 1960s, the building and theater provided truckloads of salvage for dealers, who, in turn, sold individual items off to collectors. Artifacts from the Garrick still sell. I’m thinking some must be on their third or more generation of owners.

The sconces, each a decorative metal cylinder holding a pair of lights horizontally, probably lit a hallway or an aisle. They are inside lights. We have no information on size.

We found a pair of fancy interior wall sconces from the Garrick online.
Measuring almost 5 inches by 5 inches and mounted on ornamental serpentine brackets, they were posted at $895 for the pair by an architectural salvage gallery.

In 2009, a terracotta wall panel 32 inches by 10 inches from the Garrick brought $499.99, and in 2011 a circa 1961 press photo of workers removing salvage from the interior sold for $17.19, both on eBay. Clearly, sentiment for the Garrick still remains high.

Q: My prints are at least 100 years old. One is Shakespeare’s birthplace. The other is Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Both are signed. Each has a number. Any value?

A: I can make this short. Go to eBay, key “Print (plus sign) Shakespeare’s Birthplace.” Check current and completed sales. Compare your print to those offered. Next, do the same with the Anne Hathaway print. Again, compare.

I found several offered, for as little as $8. Versions offered by British sellers dated to the mid-1800s. By comparison, 100 years is not that old.
Only one print, sold in a wooden frame with a new mat, sold and it brought $17.99.

Demand is not high, making condition and aesthetics prime considerations.

Q: Help! I have collections from the 1970s of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars from my three boys. How can I find values? Are there books to help?

Q: I’m trying to get information on Mattel Red Line cars from the 1970s called Farbs.

A: Both inquiries came handwritten, so I gather the readers don’t have a computer. In that case, when it comes to basic research I don’t think one can do better than a local library. Many have price guides to collector cars. If they don’t, perhaps they can access some through library loans.

Most libraries also have computers for public use. Ask a librarian to help you research online. Seeing completed sales on eBay and toy sites will show possibilities.

Values for the first reader depend on what she has, plus condition of the cars. IDing is the first step to determine value. Finding similar, sold cars online can tell a lot.

Farbs and Zowees were Hot Wheels cars from the late 1960s to ’70s. Collectors love them. Some still in their original blister pack sell for over $100. With this kind of potential value, a targeted search is imperative.

Auction Action: A circa 1767 cherry wood bookcase/desk combo that sold for $1,082,500 recently at Sotheby’s New York is called the Samuel Talcott Chippendale carved piece because Talcott, a distinguished citizen of the Connecticut River Valley at the time, commissioned it. The piece remained in the family until 1989 when a family member sold it to the consignor.

Standing almost 8 feet high and more than 43 inches wide, the case is considered an important piece of early Connecticut furniture. Fine early Colonial furniture is identified with its region of origin. Note the corkscrew finials, original finish and cast brass hardware.

Collector Quiz

Q: Many know that the domesticated horse was introduced in this country by European colonizers and invaders. What native tribes were most involved in the spread of those horses? What tribe bred the Appaloosa?

A: The Apache traded stolen horses to the east and north. The Comanche and Kiowa traded to more northern tribes. The Nez Perce bred the Appaloosa. Source: “Native American Horse Gear” by E. Helene Sage (Schiffer, $49.99). Includes a thorough text in addition to period photos and art showing bridles, breastplates, saddlebags and blankets, saddles, and more. Horse masks are stunning.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.


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