Ask Antique Trader: Family stored buggy for 90 years

Q This is a buggy my grandfather bought for his son’s 15th birthday (bought in 1918). A short time later his son passed away and grandpa put the buggy in storage and covered. Nobody touched it. There is a Sears & Roebuck label on it. The building where the buggy was stored was destroyed by a tornado in 2008. I would like to know what this is worth and would it be advisable to replace the top before selling it.
— A.W., Hutchinson, Kan.

A It is touching your family kept the horse drawn buckboard in storage for so many years. Your grandfather surely loved his son, your late uncle, to care for a memento this way. If the time line you provided works out, the buggy was in storage for roughly 90 years before the tornado tore the cloth auto top to ribbons. It also looks as though the yolk and buggy poles, used to hitch the horse to the vehicle, have been badly damaged. Thankfully all of this can be either replaced or repaired. Horse drawn vehicles such as this are still in use today by the Amish and Mennonite denominations. New buggies are built to pretty much the same specifications as the one your grandfather bought in 1918. A solid replacement top can cost between $900 and $1,800, based on styles. New poles and yolks can cost up to $500. Without taking into account your family’s 90-year commitment to preserve the buggy, it is worth about $500 in its current condition. With another $1,500 in parts and extra for restoration it could be worth $2,500.

Q I found this ring in an old coffee can that my grandma left to me 40 years ago. Can you tell me the value of it and what it is and where it came from?
—R.J., Potomac, Ill.

A The “G Man” on your ring stands for Government Man or a member of the FBI. The term was first used in the 1930s and made famous by a children’s radio program called Junior G-Men. The show host was Melvin Purvis, a former FBI officer who became a household name following the nationwide manhunt and eventual death of gangster John Dillinger. Your ring is a cereal box premium promoting the show of which tens of thousands were made. The wearer instantly became an honorary member of the G-Men, but in junior status. Your 1940s Junior G-Man ring would be worth about $15-$20 if it was in near mint or mint condition. It looks as though yours has suffered some serious corrosion and pitting of the metal. I would keep it as a sweet reminder of how your grandmother might have thought of you as her super-hero.

Q I would like to know about this movie poster for “Annie Get Your Gun” and the record album. I am neighbor of an elderly lady who passed away and the young man cleaning out the house told me to take what I want. I rescued many records, plus albums and three movie posters, the others are “Singing in the Rain” and “Kismet.” What can you tell me about them?
—M.G., Franklin Park, Ill.

A Your movie promotional poster is from the 1950 movie starring Betty Hutton as Annie Oakley. The musical behind the life story of the spitfire sharpshooter was one of the most successful musicals for MGM. Because of its popularity, thousands of posters were produced to promote the film. In fact, new posters exactly like yours are being produced even today and sold brand new. Yours is worth about $20, however the folds do detract from the value.

Your 1946 album from the Broadway show featuring Ethel Merman is too new to have substantial collector interest. Most people have abandoned vinyl as a medium, although it is making a comeback in some sectors. It is worth about $10 to $20, depending on the buyer.

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You can send your questions to “Ask Antique Trader” either by e-mail with attached digital images (preferred) or by regular mail with color prints (photos cannot be returned). In either case, be as detailed as possible regarding condition, dimensions and markings. As always, we’ll select the best examples to feature in our pages.

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Eric Bradley is the editor of Antique Trader magazine and former promoter of the Atlantique City Antiques & Collectibles Show. He has been buying, selling and trading antiques and collectibles for 13 years. He can be reached via e-mail at or in care of Antique Trader Magazine, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54945.