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Letters Galore: Flags to Gonzo Mugs...
Jeffrey Pearson ISA-AM


With the help of our fine readers, I've never come across so many fascinating topics and unusual collections.  It winds up being a treasure hunt for both of us! Keep those questions coming... 

Q.  I have a flag with thirteen stars and wastold it was from 1850 but I have no proof or provenance.  Are thirteen star flags of any value? -Liz- Phoenix, AZ

A.  They are more common than you may think. The thirteen star flag has approximately twenty-one different variations with some worth more than
others.  The traditional Betsy Ross pattern which consisted of thirteen stars in a circle is by far the most noted for the classic circular pattern and the folklore.  No historical evidence links Betsy to the design, but the legend began as early as 1876 when descendants recounted in their family history that she was the designer. The transition of how the stars were placed created the names for the different variations of flags such as Betsy Ross; Snowflake; Scattered; Oval with three central stars; Trumbull pattern, named after the Revolutionary War patriot and known artist John Trumbull; Cowpens and the 4-5-4 to name a few.

One of the rarest and most sought after is the Trumbull pattern.  This flag consists of twelve stars squaring around one star in the middle.   These pieces of history because of their overabundance have a whirlwind of value.  A Betsy Ross-style thirteen star flag sold in June of 2012 at auction in Maine for $700.00 as compared to a six-pointed Great Star patternthat sold in 2011 for a mere $4,000.00. Without provenance, the value is significantly less.  If you have any questions about your flag you may want to contact Jeff Bridgman Antiques in York County, Pennsylvania (717) 502-1281 or

Q.  I have a hand painted Muppets' Gonzo mug by Sigma the Tastesetter with the original box and tag that came with it.  I have written and called the Henson people with no response.  I have not been able to find the "true value" of this so called "treasure".  I hope that with your knowledge and resources you may be able to get the "true value" of this mug.  -Michael - Sun City West, AZ

A.  Thank you for the letter!  This one made me all giddy as I loved the Muppets as a child.  "The Great Gonzo" or "Gonzo the Great," as he used to be called is the resident daredevil performance artiste' on "The Muppet Show". He is an odd looking, unclassifiable alien creature with blue fur, bug eyes, and a long crooked
nose. He takes pride in his uniqueness and enjoys everything that he does no
matter how painful or ill-advised it may be. 

"Sigma Tastesetter" was a New York based importer/distributor of gift ware started in the late 1960's.  Later it became known as the Towle International Company that became a leader in Sesame Street and Star Wars products and other figural cookie jars. Most common of the Muppets mugs were Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.  Gonzo, because of popularity was made more scarcely and is now more difficult to find.  A comfortable fair market value as opposed to what you say "true value" would be $100.00-$200.00 depending upon condition.  Collectors of the Henson days of the Muppets are out there and looking.

These two topics are just the beginning of the letters I have received. 
If only I had more space!  Oh well!  That means that you will have to
tune in next month "Same Bat time" for the further adventures of....You
Ask the Appraiser, c/o JeffreyPearson; 5525 North 12th Street; Phoenix, AZ 85014; or email

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