A teddy bear sometimes has a hidden music box inside or is made to be used as a muff. A tiny bear with a removable head can actually be a valuable perfume bottle.
Even more surprising are a pair of seated bisque dolls that double as liquor decanters. The dolls, made by Gebruder Heubach of Germany, are shaped like charming baby dolls with blond hair and side-glancing eyes.
At first they look like the more familiar "piano babies." Why a decanter hiding in a doll? They were made in 1910, before Prohibition in the United States, so there was no legal reason to hide alcoholic drinks.
Perhaps some people felt that bottled spirits should be stored out of sight in a 9-inch tall ceramic figurine. This type of decanter is very rare, so the dolls as a pair sold for $969.
Q: I recently acquired a 16-inch cast-iron bell and yoke. The bell has the number 2 on the top. The yoke is marked "The C.S. Bell Co.," "2" and "Hillsboro, O." on one side and "No. 2 Yoke" and "1886" on the other side. It's clean and not rusted. What is it worth?
A: C.S. Bell Co. was founded by Charles Singleton Bell. He operated a foundry in Hillsboro, Ohio, beginning in 1858. The company made farm equipment and stoves. One day, while working to develop a new type of metal alloy, Bell accidently dropped a piece of the metal and discovered that it made a ringing sound like a bell.
The company began making bells from the new alloy, and by the 1880s C.S. Bell was the largest producer of bells in North America. Most bronze bells are marked with the name of the company on the bell, but C.S. Bell always marked the yoke instead.
The Bell family continued to operate the business until 1974. Bells were made at the Hillsboro site until at least 1984.
Another company, Prindle Station, claims to make bells today that are identical to the original bells made by C.S. Bell. A C.S. Bell Co. bell with a No. 2 yoke sold recently for more than $250.
Q: What does it mean when an ad says a Northwood vase is "JIP shape"?
A: "JIP" stands for "jack-in-the-pulpit" and describes a vase shaped something like the flower with that name. It's a narrow vase with a wide mouth that has one side pulled upward and the other side folded downward. Vases in this shape were first made by Stevens & Williams of Stourbridge, England, in about 1854.
The term "jack-in-the-pulpit" wasn't used until Louis Comfort Tiffany used it for vases he made beginning in 1900. Northwood Glass Co. of Wheeling, W.Va., was one of several other glass manufacturers that made vases in this shape.
Q: I bought a heating stove at an auction and would love to know more about it. It is inscribed "No. 14, Orient, 1888, Bridgeford & Co., Pat'd Dec. 6, 1886." The stove has pottery tiles with "portraits" on either side of the center opening. Any help on value would be appreciated.
A: The Orient was an "open fire" heating stove patented by Bridgeford & Co., of Louisville, Ky. It was described as "the handsomest, cheapest and most perfect-operating open stove in the market." The heat could be regulated by adjusting the ventilators in the lower blowers so that the fire didn't burn out overnight.
Bridgeford made stoves for several companies, including the Barstow Stove Co. of New York, which was in business from 1836 until 1929. Several models of the Orient stove were manufactured.
Models similar to yours and attributed to Barstow Stove Co. have sold for $500 to $2,000, depending on condition. Many Orient stoves have been completely restored and refinished by their owners.
Q: I own a book of camp songs that I got when I attended a day camp run by the WPA at Niobrara State Park in Nebraska. The song book, titled "Camp Songs," pictures a campfire on the cover. I went to the camp for two years, and then the war started and there were no more day camps in our area. Is the song book collectible?
A: The Works Progress Administration was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in May 1935 to provide jobs for some of the unemployed during the Depression. WPA projects included building roads and bridges, schools, playgrounds, parks and airport landing fields.
There were WPA projects for artists, writers, historians and mathematicians. Job training was offered as well, and day camps for children were established in several areas of the country. More than 8 million people were employed by the WPA during the eight years it existed.
The program, renamed "Work Projects Administration" in 1939, ended in June 1943 after there was no longer a shortage of jobs. WPA items of all types are collected. Your camp song book is an interesting memento of the times. It is worth about $10 to $20.
Q: I have a plate marked "PL" with a line under it. The words "Limoges" and "France" are beneath the line. Can you tell me who made the plate and how much it's worth?
A: The mark on your plate was used by La Porcelaine Limousine of Limoges, France. The company was founded by Joseph Redon and P. Jouhanneaud and his son in about 1905, and was in business until about 1938.
A 9-1/2-inch plate decorated with roses made by Porcelaine Limousine auctioned recently for $23.
On the block
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
- Hepplewhite-style table, mahogany, drop leaf, two drawers, turned legs, c. 1860, 28 x 33 inches, $60.
- Photograph of Warren G. Harding funeral procession, band, caisson, dignitaries, framed, 11 x 40 inches, $105.
- Weller vase, slip flower, apricot, flared, lug handles, 9 x 4 3/4 inches, $110.
- B & O Railroad sign, Baltimore station scene, cast iron, round, painted, c. 1910, 16 1/2 inches, $145.
- Bronze sculpture, lion, lying down, gilt, red marble base, France, 1800s, 3 3/4 inches, $310.
- Grecian vase, basalt, classical figures, black, c. 1810, 4 1/2 inches, pair, $370.
- Double brush washer, jade, celadon, curled leaves, blossoming prunus branches, Asian, 3 5/8 x 2 inches, $420.
- Newcomb Pottery vase, loquat berries, leaves, blue, green, pink, Sadie Irvine, 1920, 3 x 5 1/4 inches, $715.
- Apothecary chest, neoclassical, mahogany, door, drawers, marble top, kneehole, c. 1835, 58 x 40 inches, $4,780.
- Chinese Export vase, famille rose, temple, palace figures, mythological-figure handles, c. 1920, 53 inches, $13,750.
© 2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.
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