Q Is my cow pitcher valuable?

— Gladys, Houlton, Maine

A Smart collectors know that this winsome seated ceramic cow with the tail formed as a pour handle appeals on several fronts.

First, there are collectors of cow images of all types, in all varieties. The size is not mentioned, but this appears to be a small pitcher or a large creamer.

Figural handled pouring utensils such as pitchers and creamers are another collecting area.

Plus, this cow is stamped "Made in Czechoslovakia" on the bottom. Goods with that mark, from perfume bottles to ceramics, glass, beads and more, are widely collected. While there are many kinds of "Made in Czechoslovakia" stamps, the type of stamp is not as significant as the fact that the item bears the stamp.

A very smart collector will note the green bow at the end of the cow's tail. Functionwise, it extends the tail so that the handle lengthens onto the cow neck. Aesthetically, the bow jazzes up the piece and sets it aside from standard cow creamers.

This exact cow is photographed in Ruth Forsythe's "Made in Czechoslovakia: Book 2," now out of print. Identified as a 6-inch pitcher, it has a 1993 book value of $60. The cow's color is identified as orange.

We all know that book values and reality often differ. If it's perfect, that cow could bring anywhere from $10 to $40, depending on how and where it sells.

Q I'm wondering about a seven-volume set of Dickens books I have had for decades — also a Lindbergh bank that I found in a dump.

— Roy, Lima, Ohio

A My money is on that bank, Roy! Research the retail value of the books using the sources below. Be aware that mass printings of Dickens do not sell high. Old penny banks are something else.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. He instantly became a national hero, and his face appeared on everything from scarves to bookends and penny banks. "Lucky Lindy" became the face on several banks. One version has him in an aviator cap with goggles around his neck; yours depicts him with goggles above his forehead, on the cap.

Made by Grannis & Tolton in Detroit, your portrait bust bank has "Lindy-Bank by G&T 1928" in raised letters at the base of the back. N. Tregor, the sculptor's name, is in raised script. A little more than 6 inches high, the bank is made of cast base metal. The paint on the one seen in photos is in excellent condition, with age-appropriate wear.

The bottom surface, with an unlockable coin slot plate, is a critical part for old coin-still banks. Originally, the bank had a key to lock the bottom plate. If the plate and key are intact, retail value on the Lindy bank is $100 to $175.

FYI: Research and find book values at www.abebooks.com, www.biblio.com or www. bookfinder.com. If it's an antiquarian book, find a local seller at www.abaa.org.

Q How do I find the value of my soda can that was printed twice? I can't but think of coins and stamps that become valuable when printed wrong.

— Dottie, Tulsa, Okla.

A The writer added that Diet Pepsi was printed over a Big Red can.

Consider the rules of collecting. What makes anything valuable? Demand. And corresponding low supply.

Stamp and coin collectors clamor for mis-strikes and misprints — provided there are so few as to be rare. How many clamor for a misprint on a Pepsi can?

While your can may be unique, it has value only if a collector is willing to pay. I'd post that can at an online auction and see where it goes. Perhaps a Pepsi collector will jump.

Shipping the full can could be a problem. Check postal regulations before listing the item.

FYI: The Professional Numismatists Guild recently warned that some new George Washington dollar coins (some were mis-struck) have had the words "In God We Trust" filed off the edges so the coin appears to be one of those incorrectly struck. The true mint errors sell for $50 or more. For more on mint errors, check the new Official Price Guide to Mint Errors: 7th Edition, by Alan Herbert (House of Collectibles, $21.95).

The Smart Collector

By Danielle Arnet


The rare Chinese bronze wine vessel that brought $8.1 million in a recent sale of fine Chinese ceramics and works of art at Sotheby's came from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y. Called a fangjia, the piece dates from the Shang Dynasty, 13th to the 11th century B.C. Albright-Knox paid $10,000 for the piece in 1953.

● Send e-mail to smartcollector@comcast.net or write to Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address with your question. Photos will not be returned.