Chicken waterer is an interesting ‘whatsit’

Unfamiliar objects used by our ancestors continue to confuse and amuse today’s collectors. “Whatsits” were a popular subject on television shows.

We identified buggy-whip holders, eyeglasses for chickens to prevent them from pecking each other, even a spring-loaded candle that was attached to a clock and lit the fireplace each morning.

Most unidentified whatsits were made for kitchen or farm use. One item that came in many shapes was the chicken waterer, still used today in a modern form.

Early examples look like glass jars turned upside down over a shallow bowl of water, a sort of fountain for barnyard chickens.

Marked pottery examples by short-lived factories bring good prices because of their rarity. Waterers by commercial factories that made many of these odd objects sell for $100 to $200.

Q: Have you heard of a California pottery company called California Cleminsons Galagray? When I was married 50 years ago, an aunt gave me a set of the pottery’s dishes as a wedding present. The dishes are marked with those words. I would like to know more about the set.

A: George and Betty Cleminson founded a pottery called Californian Clay in 1941. Betty was the designer and George handled the business end. They worked in their garage in Monterey Park, Calif., and later moved to a larger facility in El Monte, Calif.

The company name was changed to California Cleminsons in 1943. Dinnerware, kitchenware and decorative items were made at the factory. Galagray is the pattern name of your dishes. Most Cleminsons pieces are marked. The pottery closed in 1963.

Q: I have a menu from the SS President Coolidge’s last voyage as a luxury liner in October 1941. My grandparents received the menu from friends who were on that voyage. The Coolidge was then converted to a troop transport, and sank in 1942. The menu is in a frame. Are there collectors of this type of item, and does it have value?

A: Ocean-liner menus are popular collectibles, and many passengers kept a menu as a souvenir of their voyage. Your menu is interesting because it is from the ship’s last commercial trip and also because the ship sank during World War II.

SS President Coolidge was a luxury liner that was part of the American President Lines. It was launched in February 1931. After Pearl Harbor, the ship was converted to a troop ship and painted gunmetal gray. The ship sank on Oct. 26, 1942, after it ran into two mines. All but two of the 5,000 men on board got off safely. Ocean-liner menus sell for $5 to $50. The historic interest of your menu would give it added value.

Write to Terry Kovel, (The Herald), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

© 2011, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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.

Holt Howard hippie salt and pepper shakers, girl holding peace-sign necklace, boy with long hair playing guitar, label, 3 1/2 inches, $22.

Squirt-bottle topper, “Switch to Squirt, Never an After-Thirst,” die-cut, smiling Squirt boy pouring bottle of soda, plaid background, 1955, 7 1/2 x 10 inches, $85.

Toy drum, tin, wood and pressed paper, military scenes, World War I-style battleship, planes, subs and soldiers, c. 1920, 8 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches, $125.

1914 Pennsylvania license plate, No. 11974, porcelain, white numbers, black ground, $175.

Pinky Lee doll, baggy pants, black-and-white-checked suit and hat, large red bow tie, original box, 1950s, 20 inches, $250.

Yves St. Laurent cloche, black sheared fur, wide brim, felt feather at brim, label, c. 1986, $370.

Painted rocking chair, scrolled crest above pierced lyre-form splat, scrolling arms with turned spindles, apple-green paint, freehand roses, black stripes, c. 1830, 40 1/2 inches, $440.

Sterling-silver chocolate pot, Queen Anne style, lighthouse form with applied cut-card work, wooden handle with applied strapwork, dome lid, eagle mark, 1910, 8 3/4 inches, $555.

Lalique scent bottle, for Coty, Antique pattern, women in long gowns holding flowers, dark-amber patina against frosted ground, signed “R. Lalique,” 6 1/4 inches, $1,955.

Harley-Davidson toy motorcycle, sidecar with two riders, cast iron, Hubley, 1930s, 9 inches, $4,600.

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