Question: Last year, I bought some interesting jewelry at a house sale. One piece is an unusual old 17-jewel, 10 K gold-filled, pentagon-shape, open-face pocket watch that is stem-wound and set. “Gruen Verithin” is printed in tiny letters on the face and it works perfectly. I would appreciate anything you can tell me about the watch, its age, maker and value. — C.S., Rio Grande
Answer: Your Verithin (also spelled Veri-Thin) pocket watch was made by the father and son team of Dietrich and Fred Gruen, who initially designed watches in America and manufactured them in Germany.
After they built a watch movement factory in Switzerland, Gruen watches that had Swiss movements were sent to the U.S. where they were assembled and placed in American cases.
In 1894, they founded the Gruen Watch Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Gruen soon became one of America’s most important and prestigious watchmakers. The company was renowned for having changed the large, heavy pocket watches of the late 1800s into smaller, lighter, thinner ones that could be carried in a vest pocket. Gruen also was one of the first companies to make the men’s and women’s wristwatches that debuted in 1908.
Although popularity of Gruen wristwatches grew throughout the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, by the 1950s, the original Gruen company no longer existed.
Presently, many Gruen pentagon-shape, open-face, gold-filled circa 1910 to 1920s Verithin watches have been selling for $50 to $70, based on condition. However, one recently brought $130 and another $150.
Question: Among some things I bought at a sale when a local nursery school closed several years ago is a small wooden tub marked “S.S. Steiff” that contains three little stuffed bears. One is white, one honey color and one dark brown. The white bear wears a baker’s toque and apron, the honey one has a black velvet jacket and carries a triple gold candlestick and the dark brown bear has a red cloth cap and a checkered scarf around his neck. There is a wooden pole rising up from the tub’s center with a red flag at the top. The flag shows a yellow teddy bear’s face and “Steiff” is scrolled in yellow letters. I believe these are new bears — all in very good condition — and wonder if the Steiff set has collectible value. — N. L.., Townsend’s Inlet
Answer: You are the owner of one of the 2,000 limited edition Steiff Rub-A-Dub-Dub 3 Bears in a Tub sets produced and introduced in 1987.
Based on the English nursery rhyme first published in the late 1700s, the sets consist of a teddy butcher, baker and candlestick maker, all heading out to sea in their wooden S.S. Steiff tub.
Made in West Germany, the sets earned worldwide interest of folks who collect Steiff animals, teddy bears and characters associated with children’s old nursery rhymes and classic stories.
Valued at $300 in 1996, many Rub-A-Dub-Dub sets in excellent condition and complete with all accessories presently have asking prices ranging from $170 to $200.
An example in excellent condition with all accessories sold for $100 earlier this year.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Living section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Email: treasuresby email@example.com. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.