20th-Century Ceramic Carnival Cane Collection

Value (2005) | $5,000 Auction$7,000 Auction

I've brought you some carnival canes.

Where'd you get them?

I've been collecting them for about ten years now. I got my first carnival cane at a local flea market, paid about 50 cents for it. It was just the top on it, and it was one of the bulldogs, and did some research on it, found out what they were and just thought they were fantastic.

So do you know where they're made?

Most of them have a "Made in Japan" sticker on the back. Some of them don't.

No markings on a lot of them.

No markings, so I don't know.

Well, back at the turn of the century through the 1930s, when you went to carnivals you'd throw baseballs or darts on balloons, and they would give you a prize. Well, these carnival canes were manufactured as cheap novelties. Made in Japan, some were made in Germany around the turn of the century. These were produced straight through until the 1930s, when they were replaced by cheaper toys, made out of celluloid, made out of plastic or made out of wood or glass or paper. These are all ceramic. What you have here is, you have three different areas of collecting carnival canes. The one is the animals and the generic characters, which have no appeal other than as an elephant or a donkey to people who collect that field. People collect pigs, they're going to want the pigs ones. The dogs... and you have everything from Dalmatians to bulldogs-- people love those. Then you have the next level, which is the Mickey Mouse, Orphan Annie-- the comic character ones. Now, many of these were made unlicensed. They didn't call Walt Disney and say, "Walt, we want to make a Mickey Mouse cane." They said, "Oh, Mickey Mouse is popular-- let's make a cane." And it looks a little bit like Mickey, the Donald Duck looks just barely like Donald, and those are all from 1930 to 1935, the end of the carnival cane era. But the most desirable ones, realistically, are the bizarre ones-- the skeleton heads. Believe it or not, the things with skeleton heads have a bigger demand than things like Mickey Mouse. Now, when you get to prices, most of these ones that are very beautifully done, 1920s-- the dogs, the elephants-- probably are in the $40 to $75 each range. Some of the older ones, they sell for $25 to $50. Now, you get to a Mickey Mouse or an Orphan Annie and you're talking $100 to $200. The Mickey Mouse could hit $200. Orphan Annie could hit $200. She has a chip on her neck, which is a problem on it, but the best one comes... are these skeleton ones. Now, these are in poor condition, but really excellent-condition ones could sell for $200 to $300.


So all together, this collection's probably worth $5,000 to $7,000.

Fantastic. I'm excited.

I'm glad.

Appraisal Details

Hudson, MA
Appraised value (2005)
$5,000 Auction$7,000 Auction
Tampa, FL (June 25, 2005)

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