Question: I have a number of household and kitchen collectibles, among which are several laundry irons. How far back does the electric iron go? I have a couple of them that appear to be very old.--M.V.
Answer: The electric iron was patented in 1882. It succeeded heated charcoal irons, irons that were heated on a stove and irons that used gasoline.
Pre-1882 irons in good condition can range in price up to $100 or more.
We noticed in dealer catalogues, however, that age does not necessarily equal value in terms of collectible-iron price tags. Material and design counts a lot. For example, a nickel-plated iron, regardless of age, could sell for several hundred dollars.
Q: You often mention flea markets as one good source for collectibles of all shapes and sizes. Is there some sort of flea market directory that anyone has published that tells where and when such events are held throughout the country?--B.P.
A: The most recent one we've seen was a start in this direction, but it was very sketchy. For example, under the "California" category, it didn't list the widely know Rose Bowl flea market and some other widely attended events. Nevertheless, the directory was contained in The Official 1987 Price Guide to Antiques and Collectibles (House of Collectibles, 201 East 50th St., New York, N.Y. 10022).
Q: You mentioned recently that there is a multitude of material for button collectors. I've been looking for some information and can't find any. Bookstores haven't been any help.--F.W.
A: Part of the problem is that although a number of books and pamphlets have been published on button collecting, many have been privately printed and are difficult to obtain through bookstores or libraries.
In any case, a couple of books to search for: "The Big Book of Buttons" (1983) by Elizabeth Hughes and Marion Lester and "The Colorful World of Buttons" by Viviane Ertell.
A button collectors' magazine: Creative Button Bulletin, 26 Meadowbrook Lane, Chalfont, Pa. 18914.
A button collectors' club: National Button Society, 2733 Juno Place, Akron, Ohio, 44313.
Christmas Mailbag: Ada Fitzsimmons writes in the fall Paper Pile Quarterly (Box 337, San Anselmo, Calif. 94960): "I would like to urge collectors to think seriously about giving something old for 1986, wherever possible. There are so many lovely things throughout the land in antique shops, even in your own town.
"This could be an excellent opportunity to add to a collection or help to stimulate a new collector, especially a young person. We all know the countless hours of interest and pleasure that will follow.
"Another reason for 'pushing' something old this year is that your local dealers need your support. In this way you will be buying 'American' and helping the economy."
Nov. 16--Postcard & Paper Collectibles Show and Sale, Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. Hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission $3; parking free. For dealer information, call (213) 656-5470.