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Shedding Light on Dramatic Developments Since Early Days of Electric Fixtures

August 26, 2000|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Light fixtures and lamps have changed dramatically in the past 100 years. The earliest electric lamps were designed to look like the candlesticks and kerosene lamps they replaced.

The early-1900s home had table lamps with colored-glass shades that could use only small-watt bulbs because a heat buildup would damage the glass. Arts and Crafts lamps were usually designed to focus the light down toward the table top.

Shades were made of mica, metal or wood, with little glass. The shades were made of dark material. The Art Deco period had floor lamps that flooded the ceiling with light. By the 1930s, new bulbs made unusual lamps possible.

Poul Henningsen of Denmark was an industrial designer who worked with lighting. He searched for a way to make chandeliers and lamps create a diffused light with minimal shadows. In 1925, he designed his first lamps.

One of his most famous chandeliers, made in 1958, used flat "plates" or shutters for shades. Each copper "plate" reflected and diffused the light. The lamp, called "Kogle" in Denmark, is known as the "Artichoke" lamp in the United States.

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Question: My antique clock has a case made of cast iron. The grapes and grapevines remind me of the iron garden furniture popular today. The clock case is painted red and gold. The clock is marked "American Clock Company." It is dated 1850.

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Answer: Iron clock cases were first made about 1850. Many were made by C.N. Muller of New York. He made cases for many companies, including American, Waterbury and Jerome. A working clock like yours is worth about $500.

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Q My wife and I collect orange and lemon reamers. A friend gave us something we cannot find in any books. It is cast iron and has a cup and reamer that works with a screw press. Cast into the side are the words "Columbia Meat Juice Press 2, Landers, Frary & Clark, New Britain, Conn. USA." What do we have?

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A You have a 19th-century meat press. It was used to extract juice from beef, boiled mutton, tongue or boned turkey. During the late 1800s, meat juice was used as a concentrated form of nourishment for the ill. The press could also be used to extract juice from fruit.

Columbia was an early brand name used by Landers, Frary & Clark. The company was founded in 1882, when Landers and Smith Co. acquired Frary & Clark, a well-known manufacturer of housewares and hardware. Your meat press is worth $100 to $120.

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Q My very old box of Crayola crayons is pale orange with dark-green lettering. The front of the box includes the words, "No. 8, Crayola School Crayons for Educational Color Work, Gold Medal, Eight Colors, Manufactured by Binney & Smith Co., New York, Paris." All of the crayons are inside the box and have never been used. Can you help me determine the age and value?

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A Binney & Smith has been making Crayola-brand crayons since 1903. Edwin Binney and his cousin C. Harold Smith founded the company in 1885 and opened a factory in Easton, Pa., in 1900. The firm made paints and chalks before expanding to colored wax crayons. The style of your box was used when Crayola crayons were introduced, but an office in Paris did not open until later. In excellent condition, your full crayon box is worth about $50. Binney & Smith's corporate headquarters are still in Easton. The company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Hallmark in 1984.

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Q I have a spoon marked "Perry O'Daniel, Standard." It is made of very thin silver. Can you tell me about it?

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A Perry O'Daniel was a Philadelphia watchmaker who is listed as having worked from 1836 to 1852. He might have bought coin silver spoons and had his name stamped on them before he sold them in his store. The word "standard" was used instead of "coin" in the Philadelphia area.

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

d Figures are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary because of local economic conditions.

* "Be a Clown" sheet music, from the movie "The Pirate," Judy Garland on cover, 1948, $35.

* Bamm Bamm & Pebbles puppets, Flintstone characters, plush, Kohner Bros., New York, 1960s, 4 inches, pair, $75.

* Happy Naughty Chimp, battery-operated toy, original box, manufactured by Daishin, Japan, 1960s, $110.

* Jacquard one-piece single-weave coverlet, 20 divided panels with four flowers each, flowering plant borders, star corner blocks with "E.K." & "1845," green, gold, navy-blue and red, 82 inches by 96 inches, $300.

* Little Country Doctor medical bag by Transogram, 1948, unused, $500.

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