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Space-Saving Advice From the Past


Return to the space-saving ideas of the 18th century: Put your laptop computer on the dining room table and use the space as an office.

That is what would have been done in the 18th century. There was no special room for dining before about 1750.

Tables were pulled away from the walls, then surrounded by chairs. They were used for the meal and then moved out of the way, leaving a large, usable space in the center of the room.

Tables were made with drop leaves, gate legs and other devices so they could fold and take up less space. Most tables even had casters or small wheels to make moving them easier.

In the days before central heating, the table was often moved to the warmest spot in the house. It was not until the early 19th century that families bought the table, chairs and sideboard as a matching set to be used in a special room set aside for meals.

The multipurpose dining room has again become a popular feature in homes. Look for antique tables that can be folded and stored or moved to furnish these new rooms.


Question: I play bridge every week with a scatterbrained group that can never remember which suit is trump. It drives me crazy. One of my friends told me to buy a "trump indicator." It sounds good, but where can I find one?


Answer: Trump indicators were popular from about the 1890s to the 1930s, especially in Europe. They were made in all sorts of shapes and designs.

A trump indicator has a movable pointer or a sign to show which suit is trump. You might find trump indicators at specialty auctions or flea markets, although some sellers might not recognize what they have.

"The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge" says that players who forget trump will probably also forget to set the trump indicator. So, even if you find one, it might not help your game.


Q I have a Ginny doll that my father gave me when I was about 6. That was in 1953. I didn't play with her much, and she's still dressed in her original cowgirl outfit. She is marked "Ginny" on her head and "Vogue Dolls Inc." on her back. What is she worth today?


A The Vogue Doll Co. of Medford, Mass., started making 8-inch hard-plastic dolls in 1948. They didn't market them as Ginny dolls until 1953.

The doll was named after Virginia "Ginny" Graves, the daughter of the company's founder, Jennie Graves. Ginny dolls are still being made. Collectors hunt for the early ones.

If your doll is in excellent condition, is as old as you think it is, and has a hard-plastic head, non-bending knees and dark coloring, it would sell for about $300.


Q I like to use fountain pens, but they're hard to find. I recently bought one marked "Recife" at a flea market. It is very colorful, with squiggly lines. It is hard to imagine that it is old. Can you help?


A Your pen is a 1994 limited edition whose design was based on Andy Warhol's portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Paris-based Recife collaborated with the Andy Warhol Foundation to produce the pen.


Q We had an argument about a Van Briggle vase I bought for a lot of money. The bottom is glazed, and my friend says real Van Briggle always has an unglazed bottom. Can you help?


A Van Briggle pottery is still being made in Colorado Springs, Colo. From 1901 to 1920, the pieces were made with colored, glazed bottoms. Later pieces were made with an uncolored bottom. The mark might help you date the piece. The AV cipher was used for many years, but the letters "U.S.A." were added in 1922.

A few early pieces had the last two digits of the year scratched into the clay bottom. The design of the vase and the color of the glaze will also help date the piece.


Current Prices

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

* Life magazine with image of DiMaggio, signed "Joe DiMaggio" in blue Sharpie on cover, Aug. 1, 1949, $80.

* Dr Pepper drinking glass, clear with two-color applied logo, white ground, red "Dr Pepper," 1960s, 9 1/2 inches, $90.

* Mont Blanc Jumbo pen, model 149, gold nib featuring ported windows for view of ink level, 1950s, $150.

* Lobby card, "River of No Return," 1954, 20th Century Fox, Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, 29 by 43 inches, $290.

* Paper weight, Baccarat, green-and-yellow snake with blue flowers on dark mottled ground, 1970, 3 1/8 inches, $385.

* "Lost in Space" helmet-and-gun set by Remco, 1967, $800.

* Madame Alexander Mary Martin doll, from South Pacific, sailor costume, 1950s, 18 inches, $845.

* Candle stand, Federal, mahogany, oval top, vase and ring-turned pedestal, tripod base, pad feet, c. 1790, 17x17x29 inches, $2,415.

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