Q. Can you tell me whether Punch and Judy mechanical cast-iron banks were ever reproduced? We recently saw one for sale and were told it was supposed to be old, but my husband thought it looked somewhat suspicious.
A. Such cast-iron banks, originally patented in 1884, have been reproduced. Unfortunately, some of the "new" examples have been doctored by unscrupulous persons to appear old-looking and fool the unwary. Because many types of cast-iron banks have been reproduced and faked, its best first to check out a bank to verify its age and authenticity, keeping in mind that many reproduced examples bear original patent dates. Anyone contemplating collecting cast-iron banks should arm himself with proper books containing information about the phonies and reproductions. Two good books are Confusing Collectibles -- A Guide to the Identification of Contemporary Objects , Dorothy Hammond (available in hardcover for $19.95, plus 75 cents postage, from Walker-Homestead Book Co., 1912 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50305), and Toy Bank Reproductions and Fakes , by Robery L. McCumber (available in softcover for $11.95 plus 75 cents postage, from Dale Kelley, 3941 West Belle Plaine Avenue, Chicago 60618). The latter book contains bank-base tracings and invaluable information but no pictures of the banks.
Q. Could you please provide me with the name and address of the party that repairs china, such as figurines? It appeared in one of your past columns, but I have been unable to locate it for a friend of mine .
A. The name is Randi Tolsky-Schwartz of the Porcelain Doctor, 4131 Main Street, Skokie, Illinois 60076. The doctor repairs and restores porcelain, pottery, ivory, bisque, jade and bone china with broken bones.
Q. I understand that people collect matchbook covers. Where can I find such collectors?
A. Write to the Rathkamp Matchcover Society, c/o Esther Rancier, secretary, 1312 East 215th Place, Carson, California 90745. Enclose an addressed, stamped envelope for information, or $5 for a year's membership dues, plus $1 for an initiation fee if you wish to join this organization. Another club you can write to is the Matchbook Cover Collectors Club, 5501 29th Street North, Petersburg, Florida 33714. Enclose an addressed stamped envelope to receive information.
Q. Would you know of a pocket-knife collector? We have 30 pocket knives dating back to the 1920s and early '30s. They are all different sizes ranging from a wee one to large, all in excellent condition. How can we dispose of them?
A. To find knife collectors write to National Knife Collectors Association, Box 21070, Chattanooga, Tennessee 27421, and Knife Collectors Club, 1705 Highway 71 North, Springfiled, Arkansas 72764. Enclose a stamped, addressed envelope for each. A little book that might interest you is Guide to Pocket Knives Identification and Values , available for $2.95 plus 50 cents postage from Books Americana Inc., P.O. Box 2326, Florence, Alabama 35630. Another is the Official Price Guide to Collector Pocket Knives by James Parker and Bruce Voylves, available for $8.95 plus 75 cents postage from Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 1912 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50305. Pocket knives in mint condition have a higher value.