It Ain’t Easy

It started with an old steel spoon that I came across.  I knew I had a steel fork that I had tucked away for safe keeping in a wooden box somewhere and I wanted to put the spoon with the fork.  So I found the box, opened it, and discovered all kinds of goodies that I had put away for safe keeping long ago.

From Inside the Box

From Inside the Box

After placing the steel flatware within the wooden box, I noticed in the corner a Larkin Co. lilac perfume box and wondered how much it might be worth today.  This should be easy to find on the internet, I thought.  So I looked…and looked…and looked some more.  I couldn’t find one lilac perfume Larkin box anywhere on the internet.  How can that be?  I found Larkin lilac perfume in their 1915 Spring – Summer catalog, but that was it.  As usual, it ain’t easy.

A little discouraged, I shifted my attention to the various tiny tin toys that were stored inside.  Were they Cracker Jack toys?  I wasn’t sure, as Cracker Jack didn’t mark all their toys.  My eyes fell on a small green car with the number 348 on the hood.  348…348…that number rang a bell. 

Tiny Tin 348 Car

Tiny Tin 348 Car

A recent Antique Roadshow program just had a car with the number 348 on the grill. 

Arcade Toys Andy Gump 348 Car

Arcade Manufacturing Co.  Andy Gump 348 Car

The show was a rerun of one that originally aired in 2012.  The appraiser was Noel Barrett and he was amazed at the fact that this cast iron toy was accompanied by its original box.  The car and box, from the 1920s, were in very good condition and he appraised them at a value of $6,000 to $7,000.

The figure driving this Arcade Manufacturing Co. car was Andy Gump.  While the name was somewhat familiar, and I knew he was a cartoon character, I really didn’t know that much about Andy Gump.

Mr. Barrett mentioned that the cartoon was created by Sidney Smith and ran in the Chicago Tribune.  The 348 car was given to Andy Gump by another of Smith’s cartoon characters, Old Doc Yak who had originally purchased the car for $3.48, hence the importance of the 348 on the grill. Doc Yak is illustrated below driving Santa Claus in the Old 348 in this 1913 cartoon:

Doc Yak, Santa and the 348

Doc Yak, Santa and the 348

Doc Yak (a goat dressed as a doctor) was an earlier cartoon strip and when Smith was planning on phasing out Doc Yak and introducing Andy Gump, he didn’t want to phase out the 348 auto, so he had Doc Yak give it to Andy. The Gumps strip ran for 42 years, from February 12, 1917 until October 17, 1959.

Old Doc Yak Gets License Number 348

Old Doc Yak Gets License Number 348

The plate number was very desireable. The little article above appeared in a 1916 issue of the Chicago Tribune.  Hundreds of people had applied for license number 348 in Illinois.  The Secretary of State decided Sidney Smith should have that license plate and sent it to him.  You can see Sidney Smith standing next to his car with the 348 license plate in the second photo below.

1922 Illustrated World Volume37

1922 Illustrated World Volume 37


1922 Illustrated World, Vol 37

1922 Illustrated World, Vol 37


1922 Illustrated World, Vol 37

1922 Illustrated World, Vol 37

And it wasn’t just the people in Illinois clamoring to obtain the 348 license plate; it was being sought by people all across the country.  The number 348 was synonymous with Doc Yak and Andy Gump.

So it surprised me greatly when I searched my little green two seat 348 tin car on the internet and didn’t find one mention of Doc Yak or Andy Gump.  It was listed as being a Cracker Jack toy from the early 1930s, which it could well be.  The car itself doesn’t resemble the Doc Yak / Andy Gump car, true.  But that number is a definite connection to those cartoon characters.  And it appears that no one has made that connection.  Incredible!  Apparently it ain’t that easy.

My thought is that this car is not only a Cracker Jack collectible but more importantly, an Andy Gump collectible.

This entry was posted in 348, 348 tin car, andy gump, cracker jack, doc yak, Larkin lilac perfume, sydney smith and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to It Ain’t Easy

  1. Ginene Nagel says:

    Hi, loved following your research for the tin litho car…I know a lot of tin toys came out of Japan in the 1930s. I found three examples of your car and they were all listed as Cracker Jack toys, also.
    I love the 348 story, don’t you? I just found a Chester Gump, Smith, Little Big Book from 1934. I’d like to read some Gump comics; bet I can find some on-line, perhaps. Your blog is one of my favorites.

    • queenofsienna says:

      Ginene, I learn something (sometimes many things) every day doing research for my Etsy shop items. That’s the fun part for me. I know a heck of a lot more about The Gumps and Old Doc Yak today than I did a few days ago! Hah! And if I didn’t put the info I find into a blog post, I’d never remember it all!

      I wonder if all those toys attributed on line to Cracker Jack are really CJ toys.

      Those old comics sure make good reading. Thanks for your comments! Susan

  2. KerryCan says:

    This sort of thing fascinates and frustrates me–and can you imagine how difficult the research was before the internet? How will you ever go about putting prices on these things, when they seem to be one of a kind?

    • queenofsienna says:

      Kerry, I think the best thing to do is just wait awhile. A year or so ago I was sure I had the only Mother’s Oats spoon in existance. I had searched and searched for weeks and couldn’t find another. Then, several months later, they’re all over the place! Weird how that happens…

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