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What's It Worth?

German Scissors Are a Cut Above

February 10, 2001|KATHY BRYANT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

WHAT IS IT?

A pair of scissors marked "Solingen" on the back, that has images of a king and a queen on the shanks of its handles.

WHAT'S THE LEGEND?

"I think these scissors were made in Italy," said Gwen Forehand of Ontario. "They were given to my employer many years ago when she was a young woman by her immigrant Italian aunt. They feel wonderful when you pick them up because they're so perfectly balanced.

"We know that they were used by the aunt to make all her clothes and the clothes for her family. Apparently, they were dipped in gold at one point, since I can still see traces of it in the faces."

WHAT IS ITS HISTORY?

Solingen is the cutlery industry center of Germany, said Kathy Goldsworthy, who runs a Web site (http://www.tias .com/stores/pastglories) specializing in vintage needle-craft accessories and textiles.

"It was often the case that the blades were made in Solingen and the handles made elsewhere," Goldsworthy said. "These scissors are most likely steel with a gilt finish with images of the 19th century King Franz Josef and Queen Elizabeth of Austria on them. It was quite common in the 19th and early 20th centuries to manufacture scissors that commemorated people."

WHY IS IT POPULAR TODAY?

Although these scissors are more than 100 years old, they still work beautifully and are attractive. Sometimes scissors like these can be found for the same price as new ones.

WHAT IS IT WORTH TODAY?

"Unfortunately the value of scissors such as these, even figural ones, are not as much as you would think, given their ornateness and beauty, as well as functionality," Goldsworthy said. "I would place their value at $35 to $45."

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

Goldsworthy's Web site has information about needle-craft accessories, as well as links to other sites. Books on the subject include "Sewing Tools & Trinkets: Collector's Identification and Value Guide" (1996, Collection Books, $24.95) and "Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries" by Nerylla Taunton (Antique Collectors Club, $49.50).

Someplace in Time, the antique mall at 132 S. Glassell St. in Orange, often has antique implements.

* To have an item considered for this column, send information, a photograph of it and a telephone number to: What's It Worth?, Home Design, Los Angeles Times, Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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