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Few companies last for more than 100 years. The Wurtemberg Electroplate Co. of Geislingen, Germany, has been making decorative metalwares since 1853. Back then, many companies in the area were manufacturing metal goods. Cast iron, copper, tin, bronze, nickel silver and silver plate were being shaped into housewares and industrial products. By the turn of the century, Wurtemberg's Art Nouveau designs were popular worldwide. When World War I began, the firm had factories in Germany, Poland and Austria, plus showrooms in cities all over Europe. Wurtemberg remained in business and continued making pieces in the Arts & Crafts and Art Deco styles. The company is still making metalwares today. Look for the mark "WMF." It is probably better-known than the company's German name, Wurttembergische Metallwarenfabrik.

Children's dishes

Q: I have been searching all over for information on a partial set of children's dishes marked "Germany" on the bottom. The dishes picture cats playing instruments, dancing and having fun. The dark-violet edges of the plates are scalloped and trimmed in gold. I have the sugar, creamer, five plates and six saucers.

A: Your dishes are made of fine porcelain. The set is known as "Cat Band." A complete tea set includes a teapot with cover, sugar, creamer and six cups, saucers and plates. The set is one of many sets of children's dishes imported from Germany between the 1870s and World War I. Many of the early sets were not marked. Later sets were marked "Germany" or "Made in Germany." A complete set of Cat Band dishes sells for $300 to $400.

Wicker rocker

Q: I have acquired a wicker rocking chair from my great-aunt. There is a partial sticker on the bottom: "H--wood & Morrill R-- Co., Chicago, Ill." Can you help identify the maker and age?

A: Your rocker was manufactured by the Heywood and Morrill Rattan Co. sometime around 1884-1896. The company was the western branch of Heywood Brothers & Co., based in Gardner, Mass. In 1897, Heywood Brothers merged with its biggest rival, Wakefield Rattan Co. The new company was called Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Co. Your rocker could sell for several hundred dollars.

Reader comment

"I read your recent reply about a Barnum and Bailey circus poster with a 1916 copyright date. You correctly said that the Barnum and Bailey circus was bought by Ringling Bros. in 1907. However, the circuses continued to operate and travel separately until the end of the 1918 season. It is possible that a 1916 poster is a genuine Barnum and Bailey poster."

'Doodlebug' addendum

We recently wrote about a 1940s riding toy called a Doodle-Bug, a motorized three-wheeler made by the Beam Manufacturing Co. of Webster City, Iowa. A reader remembered another three-wheeler called a "Doodlebug." It's an "Irish mail" riding toy that moved forward when a child pushed and pulled the pump handle. The steering was done with the feet. The nonmotorized riding toy's official name was "Doodlebug Spe-da-way." It was manufactured during the 1930s and '40s by Beckley-Ralston Co. of Chicago. It could be adjusted as a child grew and was advertised as a "physical developer."

Tip of the week

Wicker furniture should not be waxed and polished like wooden furniture. It needs to be vacuumed, then sprayed with a hose.

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

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