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Daffodils Abound as Decorative Motif

April 17, 1999|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Spring flowers have inspired artists for centuries, and one of the most recognizable blossoms is the daffodil's. The bulb grows through the snow to produce leaves and yellow flowers in March or April.

It's easy to understand how designers of lamps, pottery, or fabrics use flowers in their designs. Some of the major art potteries, such as Roseville, Rookwood and Weller, made flower-decorated art ware and flower vases. Roseville had more than seven vases decorated with raised daffodils. Tiffany made at least eight stained-glass lampshades depicting flowers. Philip Handel made three or more different reverse-painted lampshades featuring daffodils. The Handel lamps, made in New York City from 1893 to 1933, are very popular with collectors. When the lamp is lit, the flowers glow in bright colors, suggesting spring.

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Question: What is the difference between a jelly cabinet, a pie safe and a dry sink?

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Answer: All of these pieces were used in a 19th century kitchen. The jelly or jam cabinet was used to store jam, jelly, tea and other foods. The cabinets were usually 52 inches high with a few drawers above a pair of paneled doors. The food was kept on shelves behind the doors to keep mice out.

A pie safe or kitchen safe was a ventilated cabinet that held pies, bread, meat, or other perishable food. Pierced tin panels or screens on the front and sides kept insects out and let air in.

A dry sink was used for washing dishes. It had a shallow well on top that was lined with tin or lead. The bottom was a storage cupboard. Some sinks had a hole in the top that was used to drain the water from the sink, some had splashboards and drawers. Many were painted.

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Q My milk glass Easter egg is close to 100 years old. It is a little over 6 inches long. Painted on the egg in a gold color are stems, leaves and a poem that is barely legible now. Can you tell me about glass eggs?

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A American glass companies around the turn of the century made many types of milk glass (white glass) eggs. The glass companies often sent the eggs to a decorating company to be painted. If the painting on your egg was not worn, your egg could sell for about $50.

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Q I have a black cast-iron bank in the shape of a horse. The word "Beauty" is printed on the left side. The bank has no moving parts and stands 4 1/8 inches tall and 4 3/4 inches long. It has been in our family for several generations. I would like to know who made it and what it's worth.

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A Your bank was made by the Arcade Manufacturing Co. of Freeport, Ill. It dates from sometime between 1910 and 1932. Arcade was founded in 1892 as a manufacturer of industrial and household iron goods. By the early 1900s, the company was making still banks, cast-iron toys, souvenirs and advertising items. Arcade was sold to the Rockwell Manufacturing Co. in 1946, and the brand name was discontinued. Your bank sells for about $100.

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Q What can you tell me about my two large stoneware jars? They are grayish white with dark blue stenciled flowers and letters. Bands of blue paint are brushed around the top and bottom of each jar. One jar is labeled 4 gallons; the other is labeled 6. Each one reads, "Bayless McCarthey & Co., Louisville, Ky."

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A Large stoneware jars and crocks similar to yours were made in the late 19th century. They were used to preserve and store food. Bayless McCarthey & Co. worked in Louisville around 1880. Stoneware items from the 19th century are very collectible. Your jars are worth at least $200 each.

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Q My mother has an old deck of cards with the backs decorated with a sleeping kitten named Chessie. The cards are labeled "Chessie System Railroads." What is the connection between the railroad and kittens?

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A The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co., later called the Chessie System, advertised its passenger service in many different ways. One of the railroad's advertising executives saw a drawing of a kitten in a newspaper in 1933 and decided it would make a good logo for the railroad. He paid $5 for rights to the drawing and named the kitten "Chessie." It was used on many different advertising items, including calendars and playing cards. The kitten's picture was usually linked with the company's slogan, "Sleep like a kitten." Some ads also pictured a cat named "Peake--Chessie's old man." Chessie playing cards were originally sold in double decks. A double deck in its original box sells for $30 to $50.

For a listing of helpful books and publications, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope to Kovels, Los Angeles Times, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

Current Prices

Current prices are recorded from antique shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

* Camel Cigarettes carton, 1940s, empty, 11 inches, $35.

* Carnival glass bowl, Good Luck pattern, electric blue, ruffled edge, $75.

* Sand pail, children on beach, metal, Ohio Arts, 1930s, 8 inches, $90.

* Celluloid dresser set, pearlized, honey-amber color, c.1900, eight pieces, $110.

* Cast-iron windmill weight, rooster, by Elgin Wind, Power & Pump Co., circa 1840, 13 inches, $330.

* Sampler by Dorothy Smith, 1828, age 9, verse, name and date at top over house, men, urns, ships, church, flowers and birds, 15 by 14 inches, $525.

* Stoneware jug, incised cobalt fish on shoulder, five rings above, Jonathan Fenton, Boston, circa 1765, 8 inches, $1,000.

* Walking cane, engraved eagle head, macrame handle, carved vines and shield shaft, circa 1890, 35 inches, $1,250.

* Enterprise Mfg. Co. coffee grinder, Philadelphia, pat. Dec. 9, 1873, cast-iron, 13 inches, $1,450.

* George III giltwood three-seat sofa in the Adam taste, arched and padded back, leaf-capped arms, fluted legs, circa 1775, 76 inches, $3,750.

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