Terry and Kim Kovel

This quilt features an American flag with 36 stars, indicating that it was made about 1865. Most antique quilts are harder to date.

Tips for estimating an unsigned vintage quilt’s true age

If you can see dark spots in the quilt when held up to a strong light or sunny window, they may be cotton seeds. Some collectors claim that this means the quilt was made before the invention of the cotton gin in 1793.

 

Puzzle jugs provided a drinking game for centuries. Do you think you could drink from one without spilling?

Puzzle jugs challenged drinkers to do it right — or make a mess

The drinker had to know which holes to cover and which to drink from in order to draw the liquid up through the handle.

 

Photo Caption: The Spirit of Ecstasy, nicknamed the Flying Lady or Silver Lady, has decorated Rolls-Royce cars since 1911. This figure is a brass reproduction.

You can’t afford a Rolls, but you might be able to buy figurine

A reproduction “Spirit of Ecstasy” sold at auction for $210. The car goes for a whole lot more.

 

Photo Caption: Labor Day celebrates American workers with picnics, parades and patriotic decorations. Past parade spectators may have carried flags like these.

This patriotic tchotchke is ready to celebrate Labor Day

Billed as a Victorian item, the 20-flag holder may predate the first Labor Day in 1882.

Photo Caption: Labor Day celebrates American workers with picnics, parades and patriotic decorations. Past parade spectators may have carried flags like these.
Photo Caption: Munyon's Homeopathic Cures may not have been effective medicine, but the cabinets are desirable collectibles. This one sold at auction for more than $1,000.

Worthless as medicine — but valuable as an antique

Turn-of-the-century quackery makes for amusing collecting. But be careful — there may be poison in those “medicine” bottles.

Photo Caption: Munyon's Homeopathic Cures may not have been effective medicine, but the cabinets are desirable collectibles. This one sold at auction for more than $1,000.
Photo Caption: A zhadou is a bowl for discarding table scraps. This one sold for $7,680 at Nadeau's Auction Gallery.

This elegant porcelain bowl has a lowly function: table scraps

The European and American equivalents had it even worse. They were used in bathrooms.

Photo Caption: A zhadou is a bowl for discarding table scraps. This one sold for $7,680 at Nadeau's Auction Gallery.
Antique tools can be interesting collectibles. This gadget, a mechanical rope twister, has a patent date of 1901.

Most people today would not recognize this rope twister

Is it a kitchen gadget — perhaps a fruit or vegetable peeler? Some kind of grinder or chopper? In fact, it’s a mechanical rope twister.

Antique tools can be interesting collectibles. This gadget, a mechanical rope twister, has a patent date of 1901.
Photo Caption: This carved shelf brought $2,500 at New Haven Auctions. Decorations and symbols associated with the Odd Fellows add to its appeal.

Odd Fellows iconography adds to this carved shelf’s value

Fun fact: The Odd Fellows is believed to have originated in medieval trade guilds, with “odd fellow” meaning someone who did odd jobs for a living.

Photo Caption: This carved shelf brought $2,500 at New Haven Auctions. Decorations and symbols associated with the Odd Fellows add to its appeal.
Bing of Nuremberg, Germany, is one of the most famous toy companies of the late 1800s to early 1900s. They made this miniature factory, which may have been an educational model or a children's toy.

Antique toys taught children about their stations in life

This miniature tin factory, which suggested to kids where they might spend most of their adult lives, sold for nearly $5,000.

Bing of Nuremberg, Germany, is one of the most famous toy companies of the late 1800s to early 1900s. They made this miniature factory, which may have been an educational model or a children's toy.
Broken mirrors don’t have to be bad luck. This one was made into a piece of folk art that still had its use.

‘Make-do’ mirror from a frugal era is prized today

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” These were words to live by in the days before mass production, online… Continue reading

Broken mirrors don’t have to be bad luck. This one was made into a piece of folk art that still had its use.
Photo Caption: Cribbage is a centuries-old travel game. In the 19th century, sailors on whaling ships made and used boards like this one to pass the time on long voyages.

Cribbage boards have sailed the seven seas for centuries

One from the 19th century made of whalebone, ebony and mahogany recently sold for more than $500.

Photo Caption: Cribbage is a centuries-old travel game. In the 19th century, sailors on whaling ships made and used boards like this one to pass the time on long voyages.
Photo Caption: Butter prints like this one pressed a design into freshly made butter as a decoration or for marketing. Today, collectors search for antique butter prints and consider them folk art.

19th century farm families’ butter prints are coveted folk art

One example with a flower-and-heart design recently sold at auction for more than $5,000.

Photo Caption: Butter prints like this one pressed a design into freshly made butter as a decoration or for marketing. Today, collectors search for antique butter prints and consider them folk art.
Photo Caption: Diamond Dyes is a favorite company of collectors of antique advertising. Its advertisements featured vibrant images, like this cabinet with a scene of children playing.

Dye company’s vintage advertising is highly prized today

In those days, fabric dyes were big business because most people made their own clothing.

Photo Caption: Diamond Dyes is a favorite company of collectors of antique advertising. Its advertisements featured vibrant images, like this cabinet with a scene of children playing.
Every food you might find on a Victorian table had its own silver-plated dish. This English silver-plated jar was used for cookies or "bisquits."

Victorians snitched cookies from this silver-on-copper jar

Also, are historical items from WWII worth much to collectors? How about rugs made from old clothing?

Every food you might find on a Victorian table had its own silver-plated dish. This English silver-plated jar was used for cookies or "bisquits."
This bell-shaped blue lamp was made by Fenton Art Glass Company for Bell Telephone. It was probably used in a hotel lobby.

Vintage lamp harkens to the days of the pay telephone booth

A (no doubt) nostalgic collector paid $2,700 for it at a recent antiques auction.

This bell-shaped blue lamp was made by Fenton Art Glass Company for Bell Telephone. It was probably used in a hotel lobby.
Photo Caption: This unconventional table was made in the 1980s by an unconventional artist, Jeff Lederman. It sold for $4,750 at Main Auction Galleries in Cincinnati.

Unconventional Ohio artist designed this unconventional table

Plus answers to questions about antique samplers, Herman Miller furniture, doorknob collecting and more.

Photo Caption: This unconventional table was made in the 1980s by an unconventional artist, Jeff Lederman. It sold for $4,750 at Main Auction Galleries in Cincinnati.
Photo Caption: Would you believe a zipper sold for $18,450 at Morphy Auctions? What about a diamond necklace that looks and works like a zipper?

X-Y-Z spells ‘big money’ with this high-fashion zipper

It’s actually a necklace, but the zipper function works. Someone paid nearly $18,500 for it at a recent auction.

Photo Caption: Would you believe a zipper sold for $18,450 at Morphy Auctions? What about a diamond necklace that looks and works like a zipper?
Photo Caption: This Escale watch in a signed box was estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $3,000 at a Rago auction in 2021.

Louis Vuitton wristwatch is aimed at the world traveler

Plus, what’s Mom’s 1960s glass coffee percolator worth these days? And what about an old Hudson Bay blanket?

Photo Caption: This Escale watch in a signed box was estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $3,000 at a Rago auction in 2021.
This tramp art picture frame was carved and painted by hand. It sold for $315 at a Pook & Pook auction.

‘Tramp art’ creators would be stunned by their value today

The handmade art from 1865-1940 are sought after by today’s well-heeled collectors.

This tramp art picture frame was carved and painted by hand. It sold for $315 at a Pook & Pook auction.
Photo Caption: Royal Worcester is one of the oldest and most famous makers of porcelain. It made this ram's head pitcher in 1888.

Royal Worcester’s 19th century porcelain took on animal forms

Also, questions about Oriental rug care, old newspaper front pages and a family heirloom violin.

Photo Caption: Royal Worcester is one of the oldest and most famous makers of porcelain. It made this ram's head pitcher in 1888.