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Antiques By Terry and Kim Kovel

It was a surprise when a 1940 handkerchief picturing Superman sold for $5,705 at an online Hakes Americana and Collectibles sale in 2014. Superman was “born” in 1933 in Cleveland. He was created by high school students Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Detective Comics, Inc. (later DC Comics) bought the idea in 1938. Superman first appeared in a comic book, Action Comics No. 1, in June of that year. He became an icon and was seen in comic books, radio, movie cartoons, newspaper comic strips, television, movies, video games and even a Broadway show. His likeness appeared on lunch boxes, toys, clothes, sheets, figurines, banks, handkerchiefs, Superman club items, jigsaw puzzles, Halloween costumes, posters, paper dolls, bubble gum and trading cards. Collectors want anything related to Superman or his alter ego, Clark Kent. The rayon handkerchief pictures Superman breaking chains across his chest. It was made in 1940 and has “Superman” and “(c) SUP’N” (copyright for Superman, Inc.) written below the picture. There is one other known handkerchief design with a full-figure picture of Superman, but it is not as rare as this version.

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Q: I have a smoking cabinet or side table that is 25 inches high, 15 inches wide, and 12½ inches deep. It has two doors and one drawer. The inside of the cabinet is lined with some kind of metal on top, bottom and three sides. What was it used for, and is it worth anything?

A: The metal-lined cabinet is a humidor, used for storing cigars, cigarettes or tobacco. The lining controls the humidity for the tobacco. The drawer was used to store smoking accessories. Smoking stands, cabinets and tables were popular in the 1930s when smoking was more common. Now they’re often used as side tables. They sell for about $150 to $200.

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Q: I heard there are different colors for the marks of Japan and that some are rare and some are not. I have several pieces of china made in Japan. Some are marked “Occupied Japan” and some just “Japan.” Which colors are rare?

A: Marks on Japanese pottery can be found in several colors, including red, green, blue, yellow, brown and black. One source says Noritake used a green mark on its “first grade” china and a blue mark on its “second grade” in the early 1900s. Some think the color indicates when the mark was used.

However, this doesn’t seem to be true because the same mark may appear in different colors on similar pieces made the same year. A better indication of age is the wording accompanying the mark. All items imported into the U.S. after 1891 had to be marked with the country of origin. They could be marked “Japan” or “Nippon,” the Japanese word for Japan. Items marked “Made in Occupied Japan” were made between Sept. 9, 1945, and April 28, 1952, during the Allied occupation of Japan.