Iron doorstops are among today's top-selling collectibles. They are probably not propped against a door to keep it open but are instead displayed like rare porcelain figurines on a prominent shelf. The clever, colorful and often humorous doorstops favored today are made of painted cast iron. They were first popular in the late 19th century. Flower baskets, cottages, animals and people were the most common doorstop shapes. More than 1,000 American-made doorstops are known, and there are at least 35 different doorstops that look like Boston Terriers.
A new doorstop in 1920 cost 25 cents. Today a rare doorstop sells for more than $10,000. But most doorstops in average condition cost about $100. Original paint is important and repainting a doorstop, no matter how battered, lowers the price. A broken or badly damaged piece has almost no value. Many reproductions of old doorstops have been made, most of them since the 1980s. That's when new collectors started searching for pieces for their collections.
Reproductions start out with overly bright paint, and any rust that develops on them is bright orange, not dark brown.
One unusual vintage cast-iron doorstop is a clownish boy wearing a checkered shirt. He is standing with his legs and arms crossed. At his feet are piles of books and pamphlets. It may have been made to commemorate the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. Since the Times didn't publish its first crossword puzzle until 1942, the doorstop wasn't made before then. One sold in 2008 for $4,025. In 2011 another one sold for $1,725.
>Q: My child's old rocking chair has a music box attached to one of the rockers. A short rod extends from the music box to the floor so that when the chair rocks, the music box plays. Unfortunately, the music box no longer works. What can you tell me about the chair? Do you know anyone who repairs something like this?
A: In the mid-20th century, a few companies made children's rocking chairs with music boxes. The mechanism on your chair was a feature of little rockers made by the N.D. Cass Co. of Athol, Mass. See if you can find a Cass Toys label or mark on the chair. Anyone who repairs music boxes should be able to repair the box on your chair. We list a few in the free directory on our website, Kovels.com.
>Q: Please tell me what my World War II poster is worth. My father got the poster from his bank in 1942. It's 39-by-60 inches and pictures a close-up of a pilot. The wording on it is: "You Buy 'Em, We'll Fly 'Em, Defense Bonds, Stamps." I have kept it framed under glass.
A: World War II patriotic posters interest many collectors. Your poster features art by Norman Wilkinson. We have seen a smaller poster sell for $100, so yours would sell for more.