Where did the Easter bunny come from? There is no suggestion of an egg-laying rabbit or hare in the Bible’s scriptures.
There were stories about decorated eggs at Easter as early as the 1300s. And children made nests for the colored eggs. In America, the bunny arrived in the early 1700s with German immigrants in Pennsylvania. The idea of eggs at Easter was universal, but instead of a bunny, countries had foxes, cuckoo birds, hares and more.
The rabbit symbolizing Easter is now a fluffy, young bunny, even though it was an adult rabbit in earlier years.
A doorstop shaped like a rabbit probably was not originally made as a symbol of Easter, but it could have been. The iron figure of a sitting rabbit was made in the early 1900s by Spencer Manufacturing Co., in Guilford, Connecticut. The 15-inch-high doorstop was so rare it auctioned at Bertoia in New Jersey for $5,400 — three times the estimate.
Q: Could you please tell me how much my barber chair is worth? It is white metal and brown leather and reads “Berninghaus” on the footrest.
A: Eugene Berninghaus was born in Germany in 1845. He moved with his parents to New York in 1849, then Cincinnati in 1856. Berninghaus also lived for a short time in Chicago, but after the 1871 fire, he and his family moved back to Cincinnati where he began making perfumes and barber’s lotions. In 1875, he opened his business, the Eugene Berninghaus Co. It made barber chairs, other barber furniture, and shaving implements from custom-decorated shaving mugs to razors, clippers and shears. Berninghaus died in 1924 and his business lasted until 1938. Berninghaus was the first to design a barber chair that both reclined and revolved called “Paragon.” One of his best-known and most collectible models is the “Hercules.” Its hydraulic mechanism cranks the chair up with a lever, and then down when the lever is released. Older and more elaborate Berninghaus chairs made with woods like mahogany, oak and walnut can sell for more than $1,000. Chairs like your Berninghaus Hercules model with porcelain coated metal and leather upholstery have sold in poor condition for $100 and in good condition for $400 to $600.
Q: I inherited a pottery beer stein my mother had when she lived in England. It has a white background and pictures a peasant man and woman in an outdoor setting. The colors are predominately blue and yellow with some green. The pewter lid is engraved “J.C.W., 1. 7. 89.” There is no maker’s mark on the bottom. Can you tell me more about it and what it’s worth?
A: Glazed earthenware steins with decorations picturing peasants were made in Thuringia, Germany, in the late 1700s. Some were made by famous factories and were marked, but most were made by less important German potteries. Steins still are being made in old styles. The engraved letters and numbers on the pewter lid of your stein are the owner’s initials and date. The value of your stein, if old, is about $500.
Q: I have a picture of John F. Kennedy autographed to my family. During World War II, my father was in the Navy with Pierre Salinger, President Kennedy’s press secretary. I’d like to have the picture appraised, but there are no political auctions around here. Some reports are that a signed picture stating it’s to our family could be worth thousands. I won’t send it to any online companies. How can I get the value?
A: You can contact auction houses that have political auctions to find out if there is any interest in the photo. If the auction is interested in it, take a picture of the photograph, making sure it’s clear enough to read the autograph, and send it them with the details of how your family got the picture. Don’t be disappointed. It isn’t worth thousands of dollars. A picture autographed to someone usually is worth less than a picture with an autograph that is not “to” anyone.
Q: I have a 10-volume set of “Works of Edgar Allan Poe” by Harper & Brother Publishers. They are 5 by 7 1⁄2 inches and have a dark green binding with gold lettering. I can’t find any date, but it reads “Preface to the 1849 Edition” in the first volume. Can you give me any idea of its possible value?
A: Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) wrote poems, stories, novels and mysteries. His work became well known after his narrative poem, “The Raven,” was published in 1845. A lot of his work was published in magazines and newspapers during his lifetime. Two volumes of his poems and stories were published by J.S. Redfield in 1849. The preface in your first volume is from this version. The owners of the rights to publish Poe’s works and the number of volumes published varied over the next few years from four volumes to 17 volumes. The undated 10-volume set by Harper is common and sells for about $175, although it is offered for much higher prices and doesn’t sell.
Tip: Don’t put a hot iron pan in cold water; the pan could warp or even crack.
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. Write to Kovels, The Daily Herald, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.
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.
Hampshire, vase, wide angle handles, support, green matte, round foot, 8 by 5 1/2 inches, $95.
R.S. Germany, plate, parrot, green and dark green leaves, silver overlay, 7 1/4 inches, $120.
Lamp, electric, glass, opalescent, nude woman, seated in waves, shell at back, footed, 23 by 13 inches, $310.
Batchelder, tile, castle, turrets, trees, blue, brown, 11 3/4 by 5 3/4 inches, $395.
Coralene, vase, gilt, ruffled mouth, blue flowers, yellow to red ground, 7 1/2 by 5 inches, $500.
Bench, bronze, x-shaped base, seated men standards, bench on necks, Italy, 20 3/4 x 27 1/2 inches, $1,020.
Judaica, menorah, golden gate, scripture, swiveling arms, dove, marble base, Frank Meisler, 11 by 15 1/2 inches, $1,375.
Rug, Sarouk Fereghan, navy field, flowers, branches, center red diamond, Persia, 1900, 6 feet 7 inches by 4 feet 6 inches, $2,000.
Mochaware, sugar, lid, marbleized bands, brown, blue, flower finial, 1800s, 4 1/4 inches, $2,195.
Doll, automaton, dandy smoker, black, papier-mache head, marbled wood cabinet, 1935, 37 1/2 by 18 1/2 inches, $8,055.