German Nodders, ca. 1910
Appraised Value: $1,500 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 7
Appraisal Video: (2:27)
Toys & Games
Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
GUEST: My father said that they're German soldiers, and we didn't ask that many questions back then. We don't know how the family got them, whether they came over with the original member of our family from Germany back in 1850s, or whether he came to Cincinnati, Ohio, and there was a big German population there, and they had German newspapers, so maybe they bought them there. I don't know.
APPRAISER: I couldn't believe these when you brought them out of the box. At the table, we both were amazed. Something we've never seen, between us probably 70 years in the business. And it's really exciting to see something you've never seen before. They are German. I've seen similar items made in Germany with this incredible detail. They're made out of a base metal, some sort of an alloy, hard to say exactly what. Similar things that I've seen have been made, I would say, in the early 20th century or 1900 to 1910. Made as little tchotchkes to put on a shelf. They're kind of amusing because they're nodding their heads, little vibrations, and they're just in constant movement. They're called bobble heads or nodders. The distinguishing characteristic, of course, is the amazing detail both in the castings and the paint. Chances are, these were painted in what we call cottage industry, where the manufacturer would create the molds and cast the pieces, and then give them to handcraftsmen in the villages to paint. They're drinking, they're walking around with their violins. And why the horns? It's really hard to understand exactly what's going on. Typical German little hats like this. They're extraordinary. When it comes to value, it's a little harder to say. You certainly can't go into comparables. People who collect automotive toys or trains, they love to buy these to dress up their little displays, as well as there are people who collect nodders. In a retail setting, we figured at least about $250 a piece.
GUEST: Wow. (laughs)
APPRAISER: So you have $1,500 here.
GUEST: That's super, great.
APPRAISER: Thank you very much.
GUEST: Thank you.
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