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Downhill Sleds Rise In Value

As winter approaches and snow begins to fall, many start to sift through their attics or garages for sleds. Besides providing a little downhill fun, some of those old sleds may be worth something.

Sleds can be great collectibles - whether it's Citizen Kane's Rosebud or a Flexible Flyer. The Saturday Early Show's Collectibles Expert Tony Hyman, author of Trash or Treasure: Guide to Buyers, explains what makes a sled collectible.

Nineteenth century boys and girls sped down snowy hills on sleds steered by dragging their feet.

The sport became revolutionized in 1889 when a 48-year-old Quaker added a crossbar handle to turn the front runners and patented the Flexible Flyer, "the sled that steers."

Success wasn't instantaneous, but a barrage of well-written advertising emphasizing speed and longer shoe life eventually turned Flexible Flyer into a household name.

As a gimmick, the Flexible Flyer company supplied six sleds for Admiral Richard Byrd's expedition to the North Pole. Then it offered the same sled to eager boys and girls for only $8.75.

Sleds came in more than a dozen sizes and models, and the company also sold skis, baby sleighs and the incomparable Flexy Racer for use in California or when the snow wasn't falling. Flexy Racers today sell for $3 to $700.

The value of any sled depends on its rarity, desirability and condition. Sleds from the 1800s start around $300, while more modern sleds bring anywhere from $25 to more than $1,000.

For more information on sleds, contact Joan Palicia, one of the nation's top sled collectors and author of Flexible Flyer and Other Great Sleds. Write to her at 15 Canton Rd., Wayne, N.J. 07470. Call her at 973-831-0527. Her email address is

Find out about other collectibles described by The Saturday Early Show's Tony Hyman in the Collectibles Archive or visit Tony Hyman's Web site.

If you think you have a collectible worth a lot of cash, send an email to and put "What's It Worth?" in the subject line. Or write to "What's It Worth?" The Saturday Early Show, 514 West 57th St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10019.

Because of the volume of mail received, The Saturday Early Show can't respond to all requests, but some will be selected and featured on the program in the near future.

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