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Metal, color and sound add to toy's value

Toys continue to entice collectors of all ages. The most popular and most expensive are those that are made of metal, have colorful decorations and move and make a sound.

Toys representing transportation are especially prized. Those that are humorous or related to cartoon characters also are in demand.

One of the best-known makers of tin toys was Ernst Paul Lehmann of Brandenburg, Germany. Lehmann began working in 1881 and died in 1934. His firm continued making toys after his death.

One famous Lehmann toy was called "the balky mule." A toy mule kicks while pulling a decorated cart driven by a clown. The key-wound toy was so popular it was made for more than 40 years.

It is claimed that Lehmann saw himself as a balky mule. He felt that he was hard to get along with and was stubborn. He even had a kicking mule pictured on a tile that decorated his factory's front entrance.

Rockford Silver Plate Co.

Question:: I have a teaspoon engraved with the mark "Rockford S.P. Co." Any information?

Answer:: The Racine Silver Plate Co. was founded in Wisconsin in 1873. The factory burned down in 1882. The stockholders reopened the company later that year in Rockford, Ill., and renamed the firm the Rockford Silver Plate Co.

When the company was sold to Raymond Sheets in 1925, its name was changed to Sheets-Rockford Silver Plate Co.

Your spoon was made between 1882 and 1925.

McKinley memorial platter

Question:: Is my pressed-glass platter valuable? There's a man in an overcoat in the center, with his birth and death dates, 1843 and 1901. Printed within a laurel wreath around the edge are the words, "It Is God's Way, His Will Be Done."

Answer:: You have a platter made to commemorate the assassination of President McKinley. The words on the plate were his last. Your platter, 8 by 10{ inches, sells for about $65.

The going rate

General Electric tape measure, 1920 refrigerator: $55.

Play set, house trailer, yellow and red, rubber-rimmed metal wheels, fitted wooden compartments and furniture, 1930s, F.A.O. Schwartz, 15 inches: $175.

Bradley and Hubbard table lamp, ivory slag glass panes, brass frame with embossed floral pattern, 22 by 18 inches: $610.

Wilkinson Toby, Winston Churchill, "And May God Defend the Right" one side, "Going Into Action" on reverse, 12 inches: $1,035.

Send questions to: Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o the Times, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.