ANTIQUES AND COLLECTING: Cream of Wheat sign a hot item

By Terry and Kim Kovel

This early cardboard Cream of Wheat trolley car sign auctioned online at for $200. (Kovels)

Cream of Wheat, a cereal first marketed in 1898, is still a popular winter breakfast cereal. A trolley sign in a recent auction showed the picture of a box of Cream of Wheat and two children eating it from a bowl. The sign read, “Summer Favorite Served Cold with Fruit.” Was Cream of Wheat originally served cold? Most advertising, even today, promotes the use of the hot, cooked cereal for a winter breakfast.

We searched the internet and cookbooks and not one suggested that cold Cream of Wheat might be served at breakfast. Did the company have an advertising campaign that promoted it? This sign could have been part of the advertising. The box is one used in the 1930s, though the clothes seem more like the 1940s. The trolley sign is 12 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches, made of cardboard or heavy paper, and in good condition. Someone is bound to buy it just for the memories of the cold, lumpy breakfast. Or maybe with a lot of maple syrup or bacon, it was a favorite cold breakfast.


Q: I have a cane with a brass handle in the shape of a horse’s head. The head unscrews to reveal space for a small flask sealed with a cork. The shaft of the cane unscrews into three sections. What is the potential value?

A: Canes weren’t only used as an aid to walking but were also popular fashion accessories in the 1700s to the early 1900s. Canes with special features or those that conceal items are called gadget canes. They were made for both men and women. Canes have been made that conceal flasks, cameras, drugs, fans, guns, lighters, maps, perfume bottles, pool cues, sewing kits, snuff, surgical instruments, swords, telescopes, tools and other items. The material of the head, any special features and condition determine price. Some gadget canes sell for several hundred dollars, some for less than $50. Horse’s head gadget canes with concealed flasks sold recently for $40 to $90.



Masonic pendant, Knights Templar symbols, cross, crown, In Hoc Signo Vinces, 14K gold, square, black and red enamel, sphynx and sword connector, 1 1/4 inches, $490.

Purse, Hermes, Vespa PM, brown topstitched leather, mantel closure with gold metal chain and bar, open pocket inside, shoulder strap, 11 x 11 x 3 inches, $885.

Native American Indian bowl, Ho-Chunk, wood, stylized bird form, elongated neck and tail handles, Great Lakes, c. 1850, 3 x 11 x 5 inches, $2,500.


TIP: An original stained clock dial is more valuable than a new repainted dial.


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