Cast-iron toys, coins and comic books, and more
With help from store owners, columnist Sandy Erdman fields reader questions about collections.
I've been getting emails from readers asking about particular items, so I sent requests to several different antique malls for the owners to respond. I got responses from Brenda Jannsen, Treasures Under Sugar Loaf Antique Mall, Winona; Chris Rand Kujath, Old River Valley Antique Mall, Stewartville; and Sarah Kieffer, Sarah's Uniques and Jim's “Man”tiques, St. Charles.
Are cast-iron toys selling, and do you consider them a hot collectible?
Jannsen: “We do not normally have cast-iron toys available. Based on the length of time they stay on the shelves and the absence of customers asking if we have cast-iron toys, my opinion is they are not a hot collectible.”
Kujath: “We do have some cast-iron toys. They usually sell better if they are not reproductions. Motorcycles and tractors always sell well.”
Kieffer: “I do have several cast-iron toys in the shop. The antique original ones seem to be very collectible. A lot of them were banks, or small figurines, such as animals. These toys usually sell from about $5 on up in the $100 range. A lot of reproductions were made, so a collector needs to be certain it’s an original if they are paying a lot of money for them.”
What about comic books, coins and stamps?
Jannsen: “We do carry comic books, and they sell regularly. We carry a variety, from lighthearted Donald Duck to dark, complicated heroes. Some comic books are older, but most are dated in the 1980s-1990s. I would consider them a 'warm' collectible, with a small group of collectors. Coins are a hot collectible with young and old collectors, and every age in between. There are people who are just starting to collect and those who have been collecting their whole lifetimes. Generally, coin collectors have a narrow focus. Maybe they choose to collect only pennies, silver coins, or foreign coins. Coins are a collectible that is tied in to the stock market. For example, when the silver market is high, coin buyers come out in droves looking for silver. They are usually looking for high-silver-content coins like Morgan dollars and peace dollars. As for stamps, we do not carry postage stamps. People who ask if we have them are almost always trying to sell their collection, not looking to purchase.”
Kujath: “Comic books have been selling well with all age groups, and you can buy for as little as $1. We do have a vendor that specializes in coins. Coins sell well, especially silver and rare coins. And no stamps.”
Kieffer: “I also have several comic books in the shop. Most of my comic books sell for four dollars. I don’t do coins in my shop as that is a very specialized area and the market is constantly changing on the value. I have many tokens and chips like collectible coins in the shop. They are usually good for a free drink or money off merchandise from the shop they came from. These collectible coins are often inexpensive and fun to collect from different areas. And no stamps!”
Precious Moments, Santa Bears and McDonald's Happy Meal toys?
Jannsen: “They are not a good collectible, in my opinion, unless if you truly love them. These are items that rarely sell in our mall, and the original price on these far exceeds any price they bring today.”
Kujath: “I normally don't buy Precious Moments or Santa Bears, since there were so many produced. McDonald's toys sell well, and there seem to be more collectors coming in.”
Kieffer: “In terms of Precious Moments, Santa Bears or McDonald’s Happy Meal collectibles, they have lost much of their value. Those are not items that I carry, and I would normally pass on buying those.”
Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org .