New Alligator Black Figure Bottle OpenerBy Mark Chervenka
New Alligator and Black Figure Bottle Opener
This cast iron figural bottle opener is new. It is a copy of an original opener made by Wilton Products of Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. The reproductions are made in China. Originals are among the harder to find figural openers and are highly sought after by both black memorabilia and opener collectors. The new piece is has a "distressed" finish with discolorations and paint flakes to imitate age.
At a recent large Midwestern flea market these openers were scattered throughout the grounds. Prices averaged about $125-$155 from sellers who represented the openers as old; about $20-$25 at booths openly selling the openers as new.
The majority of original cast iron openers (regardless of subject) have thick heavy lead paint which chips off in thick heavy flakes. Paint on the reproductions is very thin. The artificially created paint flakes on the new are likewise very thin. Also beware of red rust which is typical of new cast iron. Old cast iron is dark brown, almost black.
One of the best checks on this new piece is to use a long wave black light. The red paint on the boy's mouth and the alligator's eyes and mouth fluoresces under black light. Virtually no original lead paint fluoresces under long wave black light.