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THE WURLITZER JUKEBOX DANCED IN AN ERA

Coin-operated music-making machines were being made in the 19th century. They were music boxes, player pianos or phonographs.

The jukebox as we know it was not made possible until the automatic-changer system was invented and electrically played records were made.

The modern jukebox era began in the 1930s. The machine, with records stored in a rack, was first made by Wurlitzer in 1933. A record was picked out by a mechanical arm, placed on a turntable and then played.

Other makers followed Wurlitzer, and by the 1940s the jukebox had been glamorized. Colorful designs in plastic or glass were incorporated into the front of a sleek, modern cabinet with shining metal and lights. A glass window made it possible to see the record move into place and turn as it was played.

Jukeboxes remained popular in bars, drugstores and other meeting places into the 1960s. New technology later made other types of music-making machines possible.

Collectors seek vintage jukeboxes of earlier years for both looks and nostalgia.

Bells are ringing

Q: I inherited some pastel-colored bowls that resemble Fiesta ware. The rims have a ropelike design. The bowls are marked "California Mission Bell Pottery."

A: Your bowls were made by Metlox Potteries of Manhattan Beach, Calif. The pottery's Mission Bell pattern was manufactured for Sears & Roebuck from 1935 to 1938. The pattern might also have been marketed nationwide through the early 1940s by other department stores, including May Co. stores. Metlox made Mission Bell dinnerware and kitchenware in six deep colors and three soft pastels. Mission Bell cereal bowls sell for about $15 each.

Check it out

Q: My ceramic tobacco jar is shaped like a Dutch girl sitting in a sack. The sack is textured and feels chalky. The jar is cream-and-brown colored, and it stands 8.5 inches tall. The mark on the bottom is "Czeco Slowakia, JM." Can you tell us anything about the age and maker?

A: Pottery, glass, lamps, perfume bottles and anything else that's marked with one of the various spellings of Czechoslovakia were made between 1918 and 1993. The initials JM on your jar might stand for Joseph Mrazek, who owned the Peasant Art Pottery in Letovice, Czechoslovakia, from 1917 to 1933. Most Peasant Art pieces are bright red, orange, yellow and blue. If it was made by another company, the design and function are clues that date it before World War II.

Buckle up

Q: I have a round, brass belt buckle that pictures Mickey Mouse holding a pencil. The words "Mickey Mouse 1937 Hollywood Cal., U.S.A." are on the front. It is stamped "Tiffany and Co. London, England." What is it worth?

A: You have a famous concoction that was first seen in the 1970s. There was never a round buckle like yours before fantasy buckles were made. Many different fake buckles were made at that time. Most of them had Wells Fargo logos. The buckles are only worth about $15.

Write to Kovels at King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019.

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