KOVELS: ANTIQUES & COLLECTING
A chair can be simple, with plain lines, or it can be a “conversation piece,” with exuberant carvings and colorful upholstery. Now that “Gothic” is one of the favored styles of decorating, unusual and ornate furniture is again popular at antique shows, auctions and even retail stores. From about 1860 to 1910, there was a Gothic Revival in the United States. Some furniture was made in a true Gothic style. Chairs looked like carved thrones or had high backs that resembled church window frames. Dragons and gargoyles were popular decorations. Animal feet, claws and heraldic designs were featured. Most furniture was oversized and made of dark woods like mahogany. By the late 1920s, art deco was the fashionable style. People wanted simplicity and straight lines, not fancy carvings and dark wood. Gothic was almost forgotten until the 1990s, when it once again was chosen for large houses that look like small castles and have dark carved woodwork and trim. New Gothic furniture is being made, but the quality of their wood, carvings and unique designs makes turn-ofthe 20th-century pieces the best buys.
Q: My grandfather gave my mother a glass Charlie Chaplin bank when she was a little girl. Charlie is standing on a platform that’s embossed with his name. Next to him is a clear glass barrel that has a top and bottom hoop. The cover is a tin twist-on closure with a coin slot. The bottom of the barrel is marked “Geo. Borgfeldt and Co., New York, Sole Licensees, Patent Applied For.” Value? History?
A: Your bank was originally a candy container. Its patent dates back to 1915, the same year Chaplin’s most memorable movie, “The Tramp,” was released. Two different Charlie Chaplin glass candy containers were made. The other one, sold by L.E. Smith Co., is rarer, has a barrel with straight sides and sells for about $500. Yours is worth about $100.
Q: I have an original Oscar Mayer wiener whistle from the early 1950s. Is it worth anything?
A: The Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile first took to the road in 1936. The driver started handing out whistles to kids in 1952. Whistles were packaged with hotdogs in 1958. The earliest whistle, shaped like a hotdog just 2 inches long by 1/2 inch in diameter, is now considered a choking hazard for children. Later whistles have a wheeled base (some bases are shaped like hotdog buns), which makes them larger and therefore safer. An early whistle sells today for about $5 to $10.
Q: My mother left me a small counterbalance scale labeled with a metal plate that says, “Eastman Studio Scale for Photographic Purposes, Made by Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y., U.S.A.” That same plate has six holes drilled in it, each holding a graduated weight. The two pans are shallow metal. I can’t find a date anywhere. Age and value?
A: Your scale is designed for use by a professional photographer working with darkroom chemicals. George Eastman founded his photographic supply company, Eastman Dry Plate Co., in 1881. It became Eastman Co. in 1889 and Eastman Kodak Co. (its name today) in 1892. Eastman was making scales like yours as early as 1903, when they sold for $3.50 each, and continued to make them at least until World War I. Today, the scale sells for $25 to $50.
Tip: Marble is porous and will absorb water vapors into the stone up to 6 inches deep. Airborne pollutants also will be absorbed, and eventually, when the marble dries, the dirt will erode or stain the surface of the marble. Avoid humidity.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
• McCall No. 582 sewing pattern, babushka cap and suspender-belt, suspender belt with embroidery work, c. 1937, unused, $40.
• Wicker and beaded purse, white clustered seed beads, jeweled fabric flowers on front, gold-tone clasp, metal handle, satin lining, Midas of Miami, 1950s, 8-by-3 inches, $125.
• Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis doubleheaded hand puppet, one head with two faces, molded vinyl rubber head, blue cloth body, original red hands, 1950s, $225.
• Carved quarter-sawn oak chair, North Wind face crest, early 1900s, 35-by-24 inches, $995.