Tin-paneled pie safes foiled most pests

  • By Terry and Kim Kovel
  • Tuesday, November 26, 2013 10:54am
  • Life

Tradition today suggests a menu of turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, creamed onions, sweet potatoes and apple or pumpkin pie.

A green bean casserole and deep-fried turkey are newer ideas.

But the first Thanksgiving probably featured very different food: deer, turkey, wild birds, perhaps even passenger pigeons, fish, clams, mussels, some nuts and a grain called maize that was used to make bread.

By later Colonial times, pies were popular for a main course when filled with meat and for dessert when made with fruit.

There were no refrigerators, not even ice boxes, but a cooked pie could be safely stored for about a week if kept away from bugs and mice.

A “pie safe” was used for food storage by the 19th century, especially in the Midwest. A wooden cupboard on four tall thin legs was made with shelves and drawers.

But the sides and the cupboard doors had panels made of pierced tin. The sharp edges of the holes kept out most creatures and the holes let in air so the cooked fruit did not create mold.

The cabinet was kept on a porch on the cool, shaded side of the house.

Collectors today like handmade informal kitchen furniture. The best pie safes had tin panels with the holes placed in attractive patterns. Sometimes the tin or the wood was painted.

Some experts today say a pie can stay on a shelf for two or three days and still be OK to eat. Refrigerating a fruit pie lowers the quality of the pie.

Q: My mother has some Royal Doulton figurines of women dressed in elaborate ruffled hoop skirts, bonnets and shawls. But one figurine seems a bit risque for Royal Doulton. She is wearing a tight, revealing dress while sprawled on a couch. Could it be a fake?

A: The Royal Doulton figurines made by Doulton and Co. after 1902 were made to sell in gift shops. Most of the figurines were sentimental, lovable, beautiful ladies from a more romantic century.

But one of Doulton’s designers, Leslie Harradine, made small anthropomorphic animals and other figures that were unusual. He designed several figurines of women lounging on couches in provocative poses.

One called “Dreamland,” made in the 1930s, was in the art deco style. Another, “Siesta,” made between 1928 and 1938, featured a shapely blond in a flimsy dress leaning on a sofa covered with a pink shawl.

Both of these figurines are rare and expensive today. Siesta sold in 2013 for $1,560. Dreamland was listed a few years ago for $7,000, but is worth a little less today. The fame of the artist is the reason the figurines sell for high prices.

Q: A gumball machine was left in a commercial building we bought back in 1968. There is a 1-cent decal on the glass top. A metal label on the silver lip where the gum comes out reads, “Parkway Machine Corp., 715 Ensor St., Baltimore 2. Md.” Can you give me any information about the machine?

A: Parkway Machine was founded in 1938 by Irv Kovens. He was a Baltimore cab driver who repaired and sold stamp machines on the side. Parkway Machine initially repaired vending machines.

The company began selling vending machines and supplies in 1941. Your gumball machine was made between 1943, when one- or two-digit postal zone numbers were first used, and 1963, when five-digit ZIP codes were introduced.

In 1999 the company’s name became A&A Global Industries. It’s still in business, run by members of the Kovens family, but is now based in Cockeysville, Md.

Q: I have a grayish foot warmer about 11 1/2 inches long. The words in blue on the top are “Henderson Foot Warmer.” The bottom is marked “Dorchester Pottery Wks., Boston, Mass.” There is a brass screw filler with a chain attached to the neck. On the filler it says “Pat. Nov. 15, 1912.” What would this foot warmer be worth today?

A: George Henderson founded Dorchester Pottery in Dorchester, Mass., in 1895. The pottery made jugs, jars, flower pots, butter pots, specialty items and, later, dinnerware.

Henderson was granted a patent for “a new and useful improvement in taps or nipples for earthenware containers” in 1912. He designed a metal screw-off tap that was used in place of a rubber stopper. The Henderson foot warmer became one of Dorchester Pottery’s most popular products.

The pottery made foot warmers until 1939. The pottery went out of business in 1979. The value of your foot warmer is $50 to $100.

Q: Can you please give me information about my Ivanhoe three-burner stove with an extra side burner?

A: Ivanhoe kerosene stoves were made by the Perfection Stove Co. of Cleveland. The earliest Ivanhoe stoves, probably introduced around 1930, had a single burner.

Ivanhoes with two or three burners plus a side burner were made later. Once electricity and gas were installed in houses across the country, the market for kerosene stoves and ovens dried up. Stoves like yours sell for $100 to $300, depending on condition.

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

&Copy; 2013, 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.

Bed warmer, copper, pierced bird design, long wooden handle, c. 1865, 43 inches, $180.

Tiffany pie server, silver, Thanksgiving pattern, serrated edge, year 2000, 10 5/8 inches, $190.

Honey pot, glass, silver base and lid, embossed Hebrew text, c. 1980, 3 3/4 inches, $225.

Pocket watch, Waltham, woman’s, 14K gold, flower-incised case, $240.

Wedgwood pie dish, lid, caneware, relief-molded game and grapevines, hare finial, oval, c. 1860, 12 inches, $250.

Horse-drawn toy dray wagon, driver, cast iron, red paint, Wilkins, 20 1/2 inches, $305.

Spode Thanksgiving plates, central turkey, flower and fruit border, 10 3/4 inches, 12 pieces, $325.

Shaker box, pine and maple, Mount Lebanon, N.Y., c. 1850, 1 3/4 x 4 inches, $375.

Arts &Crafts umbrella stand, oak, tapered, c. 1915, 30 x 15 inches, $565.

John. F. Kennedy press pin, Election Night pass, green, cardboard back, 1960, 3 1/2 inches, $2,210.

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