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Martha Washington Doll a Grocery Premium

March 18, 2000|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Question: On a shelf in the closet of my childhood bedroom, I found an old doll in its original cellophane box. I don't even remember the doll, and it looks like no one ever played with it. The box reads, "Dolls of All Nations" across the bottom. The 7-inch, hard-plastic doll has white hair and is dressed in a very frilly colonial dress and hat. Do you have any idea of the doll's age and maker? I didn't want to open the box.

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Answer: Your doll was made by the Duchess Doll Corp. of Jackson Heights, Long Island, N.Y. Duchess made hard-plastic dolls during the 1940s and '50s. Dolls in the "Dolls of All Nations" series were grocery store premiums in the early '50s. Your doll is the Martha Washington doll in that series. Duchess dolls, in mint condition in the original box, are sought by collectors. Prices are not high; your doll is valued at about $30.

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Q More than 20 years ago, I bought an oak chair on rollers. There's a steel mechanism under the chair that allows the seat and back support to swivel and rock. On the back is a small metal seal with a lion's head in the center, surrounded by the words, "The Marble and Shattuck Chair Co. Cleveland." Can you tell me when the chair was made and what it's worth?

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A The Marble and Shattuck Chair Co. worked in Cleveland between about 1900 and 1930. Oak swivel rockers like yours were popular at the turn of the 20th century. Many were used as office desk chairs. They sell for $300 to $600, depending on the style and condition.

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Q I inherited a small collection of clear glass coffee percolators made in the 1930s. I would like to add some glass teakettles to my display too. Were they made during the same period?

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A Corning made several styles of clear Pyrex teakettles during the 1920s and '30s. Pyrex is Corning's brand name for its heavy glass kitchenware. Other companies also made glass teakettles. We are noticing more of them at shows and sales. Prices are still fairly low, ranging from $25 to $45.

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Q I have started collecting graniteware to display on my kitchen shelves. I recently bought a small blue-and-white rack that holds three containers.

The containers are labeled with the words "Seife," "Soda" and "Sand." The dealer said the rack was European. Why are two of the words English? What does "Seife" mean?

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A All three of the words on the containers are German. "Seife" means soap, and "soda" and "sand" are words that are the same in English and in German. Your utility rack was meant to hang over the kitchen sink. The soap (seife) was used to wash dishes. When mixed with the soda carbonate and sand, it became scouring powder for cast-iron pots and pans.

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.

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