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The First Boom Boxes Played Discs

October 14, 2000|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Recorded music today comes on tapes or CDs. A few years ago, it was on plastic or wax records. In the 1880s, the music often came from metal discs made with holes that could activate the right notes on a machine. The disc music box was popular from 1895 to 1905, when the phonograph captured the market. Popular brands included the Regina, Kalliope, Polyphon and Symphonion.

Discs varied in size from 11 to 26 inches in diameter. A working example of any of these large music boxes is expensive. Recently a Kalliope Panorama was offered at an auction for more than $20,000. The machine plays a 25 1/4-inch disc.

The bottom half of the machine has a panorama of a racetrack. As the music plays, horses race. It was originally made to be used in taverns so the patrons could bet on the results of the race.

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Question: My painted-iron garden settee once sat on our family farm in upstate New York.

It has a simple, openwork seat. The back, arms, seat border and legs are decorated with elaborate, leafy grapevines. The grapes are three-dimensional, and the leaves are large. Can you help with age and value?

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Answer: The design of your settee was a standard one used on cast-iron garden furniture from about 1850 to the early 1900s. The ornate Victorian pattern was called grape, grapevine or piazza. Manufacturers varied the design, but most examples have three-dimensional bunches of grapes with connecting leaves and vines.

Keep your settee painted to prevent rust. Depending on its size, age and condition, it could be worth $1,000 or more.

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Q I was recently given pictures of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. The frames are lovely. At first I thought they had white trim made of marble. A close inspection shows that the frames are painted black with incised lines.

Can you tell me how old it is?

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A Your frame seems to be a typical Eastlake-style frame made about 1870-75. Wooden frames were given a black lacquer finish. The outer edge of the frame was often gilded. The incised lines were similar to those found on furniture of the same period. They were painted white, and other white trim could be added.

Period picture frames sell well today. A good Eastlake frame that's about 9-by-12 inches is worth from $100 to $200.

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Q I have a clear glass bowl that is at least 50 years old. Its diameter is 18 inches at the top and 9 inches at the bottom. There is a mark on it: "Arcoroc, France." Can you tell us anything?

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A Arcoroc is a brand of inexpensive glassware made by La Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques, a French glass-manufacturing company founded in 1927 by Jacques Durand.

You can find Arcoroc glass dinnerware and glassware in many U.S. department stores. It is advertised as "break-resistant, dishwasher safe, and microwave safe."

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Q We have a stuffed, plush 24-inch Piggly Wiggly pig. His tag reads, "Etone International Inc., Jersey City, N.J., c 1982." The back of the tag lists numbers for several states. He has light-brown fur, pink ears and plastic eyes. He's wearing a Piggly Wiggly cap, a black bow tie and a grocer's white apron.

Does he have any value as a collectible?

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A Your stuffed animal is named "Mr. Pig." He is Piggly Wiggly's main advertising character. Mr. Pig has been used to market several other toys and products that were sold or given away by the national supermarket chain.

Etone made plush novelties and troll dolls into the 1990s. Your stuffed pig was probably marketed widely, and is not very old or rare. It is worth about $10.

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Q I recently bought an iridescent china cup and saucer at auction. Both have a periwinkle-blue luster band surrounding an orange center.

The cup handle is gold-colored. The mark on the bottom has two intersecting diamonds. Each diamond has the letter T inside. Above the mark are the words "Hand Paint." The words below the mark are smudged.

None of my research has turned up any information. Can you help?

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A The words under the mark are "Made in Japan." Your porcelain cup and saucer were made by Takito, a Japanese firm that worked between 1880 and about 1948.

The English words in the mark indicate that the pieces were made for export. The word "Japan" (rather than "Nippon") shows that the dishes date from after 1921, when the United States required the country's name to be printed in English.

Your iridescent cup and saucer probably date from the 1930s, when the style you describe was popular.

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Q I have a ring that belonged to a great-aunt in Michigan. She had it as a little girl. I'm told that it is Arts & Crafts style. It's silver, with small leaves and flowers on either side of the stone. It is marked "Forest Craft Gu--."

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A The Forest Craft Guild was from the Grand Rapids, Mich., area. It made Arts & Crafts jewelry, copper, furniture and other items. Very few of its pieces were marked. The guild worked from 1905 to about 1918 under the direction of Forest Mann.

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