Terry and Kim Kovel

Woodcarver Johannes Scholl went by John after emigrating from Germany to the United States. One of his elaborate folk art whimsies sold at Conestoga Auctions for $4,130. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

This folk art whimsy by John Scholl auctioned for over $4,000

A woodworker, Scholl’s carved decorations are thought to be among the most important works of the 20th century.

 

This silhouette of a woman, cut by mouth by Martha Ann Honeywell, had an estimated value of $400 to $800 at Garth's Auction, Inc., but did not sell. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Circa 1800 silhouette of woman in a bonnet was ‘cut by mouth’

Born without hands, Martha Ann Honeywell (1786-1856) could cut and paste, thread a needle, embroider and write using her mouth.

 

Many 19th-century potteries and amateur artists made and decorated stoneware figures. This handmade ram sold at Conestoga Auctions for $144. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

19th century New England resting ram figurine was a doorstop

The 9-inch hand-molded animal sold for $144, probably because it was missing part of his horn and an ear.

 

This bentwood box, 4 by 9 by 6 inches, sold for $4,260, more than four times its estimate. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Bucher bentwood box sells for more than 4 times its estimate

Collectors treasure the hand-decorated storage boxes made by the Bucher family from about 1750 to 1800.

This bentwood box, 4 by 9 by 6 inches, sold for $4,260, more than four times its estimate. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
This rare Louisiana Creole Gros Rouge punkah from the late 18th-early 19th century made of Southern Yellow Pine with mortise-and-tenon construction, 40 1/2 by 35 inches, was estimated to sell for $10,000 to $15,000 at Neal Auctions, but it didn't sell. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Strange antique made from Southern yellow pine is a punkah

It was the “air conditioner” of the early 19th century. A man called a “punkah wallah” pulled a cord to make it swing back and forth like a fan.

This rare Louisiana Creole Gros Rouge punkah from the late 18th-early 19th century made of Southern Yellow Pine with mortise-and-tenon construction, 40 1/2 by 35 inches, was estimated to sell for $10,000 to $15,000 at Neal Auctions, but it didn't sell. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
This 1930 Palmer Cox Brownie Ten Pin Set with 12-inch-high paper and wood Brownies sold at Bertoia Auctions for $354. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Brownies toys were based on children’s books circa 1879

The popular characters were featured as paper dolls, trade cards, rubber stamps, card games, puzzles and cloth dolls.

This 1930 Palmer Cox Brownie Ten Pin Set with 12-inch-high paper and wood Brownies sold at Bertoia Auctions for $354. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
This Centennial Exhibition handkerchief with portraits of Washington and Grant and pictures of exhibition buildings is 22 inches by 28 inches and sold at Conestoga Auction Co. for $70. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

This bandanna was made in celebration of US’s 100th birthday

It’s just one of the many souvenirs from the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

This Centennial Exhibition handkerchief with portraits of Washington and Grant and pictures of exhibition buildings is 22 inches by 28 inches and sold at Conestoga Auction Co. for $70. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Each of these Ming Tree vases sold separately at a Humler & Nolan auction. The blue gray vase sold for $489, the light blue vase for $431, and the turquoise blue vase for $401. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Three Ming Tree vases each have a different trial glaze color

The very modern looking pottery, introduced in 1949, each sold separately at a recent auction.

Each of these Ming Tree vases sold separately at a Humler & Nolan auction. The blue gray vase sold for $489, the light blue vase for $431, and the turquoise blue vase for $401. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
This 19th-century 10-inch-high painted tin coffeepot sold in a Cowan auction for $544. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Toleware coffeepot from 1700s Pennsylvania auctions for $544

The tinware lost favor when copper and silver plate became more available because tin often rusted.

This 19th-century 10-inch-high painted tin coffeepot sold in a Cowan auction for $544. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
The terra cotta tobacco jar by Jon Maresch, shaped like a smiling black dog, is marked JM#116 and sold at Fox Auctions for $240. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Terra cotta jars in 1800s and 1900s held loose pipe tobacco

If you have a jar with the initials JM, they made by Johann Maresch (1821-1914) and sell for $300 to $500.

The terra cotta tobacco jar by Jon Maresch, shaped like a smiling black dog, is marked JM#116 and sold at Fox Auctions for $240. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Photo Caption: This 1920s apothecary sign shaped like a mortar and pestle is 20 inches high, made of tin with cut and colored glass mounted to the outside, and sold at Cowan's for $8,125.

How store signs drew attention before electricity was invented

Cigar store signs are readily recognizable, even a century later.

Photo Caption: This 1920s apothecary sign shaped like a mortar and pestle is 20 inches high, made of tin with cut and colored glass mounted to the outside, and sold at Cowan's for $8,125.
The "Goat and Bee" milk jug with incised triangle and script Chelsea mark, 1745-49, sold at Doyle for $3,780. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Famed Chelsea porcelain ‘Goat and Bee’ jug auctions for $3,700

The milk jug desiged by Nicholas Sprimont about 1742 was inspired by the tale about two goats and a bee.

The "Goat and Bee" milk jug with incised triangle and script Chelsea mark, 1745-49, sold at Doyle for $3,780. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
The 13-inch-high antique wooden San Rafael figure with wings and holding a staff and a fish sold at a Cottone auction for $9,600. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Wooden figure of San Rafael the Archangel made circa 1763

Fra Andreas Garcia, an 18th-century Mexican Franciscan friar and folk artist, carved and painted the figurine.

The 13-inch-high antique wooden San Rafael figure with wings and holding a staff and a fish sold at a Cottone auction for $9,600. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
This large, enameled copper plate is decorated with a stylized rooster, fish and three star-like designs. The back is textured enamel with the mark "Karamu OH Hykes." (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Enameled bowl by talented Karamu artist should fetch thousands

The shallow bowl with a stylized picture of a rooster on the front was signed “Karamu OH Hykes” on the back.

This large, enameled copper plate is decorated with a stylized rooster, fish and three star-like designs. The back is textured enamel with the mark "Karamu OH Hykes." (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
This Dimitri Omersa lion footstool auctioned at a Jeffrey Evans Associates sale for $3,159. Other animals have sold at auction for $1,000 to $5,000. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

This Dimitri Omersa lion footstool sold at auction for $3,000

Today there are 39 different Omersa Co. animal footstools sold by stores like Liberty and Abercrombie Fitch.

This Dimitri Omersa lion footstool auctioned at a Jeffrey Evans Associates sale for $3,159. Other animals have sold at auction for $1,000 to $5,000. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
This stenciled wooden wagon with removable side panels from the early 1900s sold at a Cowan auction for $160. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Newsboy sold newspapers out of this Detroit Times wagon

Around 1899, the price of 10 papers was 5 cents. Most of the newsboys were homeless and this is how they earned a living.

This stenciled wooden wagon with removable side panels from the early 1900s sold at a Cowan auction for $160. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
This early cardboard Cream of Wheat trolley car sign auctioned online at AntiqueAdvertising.com for $200. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Was Cream of Wheat served cold? Antique sign suggests campaign

Most advertising, even today, promotes cooked cereal as eaten hot. When cold, some get hard and lumpy.

This early cardboard Cream of Wheat trolley car sign auctioned online at AntiqueAdvertising.com for $200. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Photo Caption: To help calm little boys getting a first haircut, barbers ordered special chairs with added seats shaped like animals. The Emil Paidar Company made this chair in the early 20th century. It was a feature that added value to the Cowan chair at auction. It sold for $1,375, just a few bids from the low estimate.

(c) 2021 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

Vintage barbershop chairs often displayed in living rooms

Special figural chairs made to look like rocking horses calmed little boys during their first haircuts.

Photo Caption: To help calm little boys getting a first haircut, barbers ordered special chairs with added seats shaped like animals. The Emil Paidar Company made this chair in the early 20th century. It was a feature that added value to the Cowan chair at auction. It sold for $1,375, just a few bids from the low estimate.

(c) 2021 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.
Scales to weigh pedestrians were not available in public places until the 1890s. This scale was made of iron and porcelain by Peerless Weighing Machine Co. It sold at a Cowan auction for $344. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Coin scales on the streets earned $1,000 a year — a penny at a time

From 1890 to 1930, you could weight yourself with a coin-operated scale found on a street corner.

Scales to weigh pedestrians were not available in public places until the 1890s. This scale was made of iron and porcelain by Peerless Weighing Machine Co. It sold at a Cowan auction for $344. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Fake bamboo was often used as trim on late Victorian furniture. The trim plus the clever side lock on the chest made this Horner piece worth over $1,000. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Fake bamboo often used as trim on late Victorian furniture

A Horner chest of drawers with a side lock fashioned out of a bamboo pole sold at auction for $1,088.

Fake bamboo was often used as trim on late Victorian furniture. The trim plus the clever side lock on the chest made this Horner piece worth over $1,000. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)