Strange antiques can inspire wonder about their purpose

This set, called a supper set, sold at a Skinner sale in Boston for $923. It was made by Coalport about 1860.

This set, called a supper set, sold at a Skinner sale in Boston for $923. It was made by Coalport about 1860.

Strange antiques and collectibles with mysterious shapes and unknown purposes are sometimes part of a larger piece.

Mysterious wooden wheels with wooden spokes and about a 45-inch diameter were popular in the 1950s. They were hung on a wall as a decoration or put flat in a flower bed. Each section between the spokes was planted with a different herb or flower. The wheels were copied in giftware catalogs but were never identified as part of a “walking” spinning wheel used to spin woolen yarn.

A curved bowl-shaped like part of the border of a circle is sometimes sold at an antique shop. The bowl usually is made by important porcelain companies and it seems to be a bargain. It is part of a set of four crescent-shaped bowls and one round bowl that fit together to make a circle. It held foods like olives, pickles and sauces or several types of vegetables in the curved bowls with sauce in the round center bowl. Most sets were made with the five bowls and a lid for the center piece. Once a piece broke, the set couldn’t be used. But the pieces still were attractive when used alone.

A set made by Coalport porcelain in the Imari pattern sold in 2016 for $923. Single curved bowls can be found for $50 to $75. A covered center bowl might be $100.

Q: I have miniature blue Wedgwood pieces made in Occupied Japan, two ashtrays and a vase. What are they worth?

A: Wedgwood was not made in Occupied Japan. Your pieces were made between 1945 and 1952, the years when Japan was occupied by the United States troops. There are collectors of “OJ” pieces. The small pieces are worth about $10 to $15.

Q: Can give me some information about Cushman furniture?

A: Henry Theodore Cushman (1844-1922) started a factory in North Bennington, Vermont, in the early 1870s and made corks and erasers. By 1880, he had a mail-order business selling stationers’ supplies and specialties. He made wooden roller skates, which also were sold through his business. He held patents for a combined ruler and pencil case and for improvements to rubber erasers, stocking darners and whips. Cushman began making furniture in 1886 and was operating as H.T. Cushman Co. by 1889. Mission, Colonial and modern furniture were made. Early furniture was made in oak, maple or mahogany. Yellow birch was used exclusively beginning in the 1950s. In 1964 the company was sold to General Industries, which sold it to Green Mountain Furniture Co. in 1971. Green Mountain Furniture went out of business in 1980.

Q: I have a red plastic Woody Woodpecker toy about 5 inches tall with a wobble head and a harmonica on the back. When blown across, it imitates his laugh. This was purchased in 1949 or 1950. I haven’t been able to find any information on this. Would you have any idea what this is worth?

A: The first Woody Woodpecker cartoon ran in movie theaters in 1941. According to one of our readers, this Woody Woodpecker harmonica toy was sold at movie theaters in the ’40s. The Woody Woodpecker harmonica and a Woody Woodpecker kazoo toy were premiums offered for 25 cents and proof of purchase from one of Kellogg’s cereals.

Kellogg was a sponsor of the “The Woody Woodpecker Show,” originally on TV in 1957 and 1958. Reruns of the original shows ran for several years after that. New episodes were made in the early 1970s and reruns of those shows have been on TV since then. The value of your toy is under $20.

Q: I have a Sarah Coventry necklace that I was told is 85-90 years old. It’s about 16-18 inches long and has graduated glass beads strung on fine copper wire and a copper ring and clasp. I was told it was Waterford crystal. I’d like to know how old it is and what it’s worth.

A: It’s newer than you think. Sarah Coventry was founded in 1949. Jewelry was designed by freelance designers and made by other companies. It was sold through home parties. The company went bankrupt in 1981 and was sold several times after that. Sarah Coventry jewelry is no longer being made, but is sold online. Waterford is the name of a company known for its glass, but some people use the name for other clear glass. The value of your necklace is about $50 retail.

Q: I bought a painting by Theodore Wassmer at a thrift shop 40 years ago. I think the painting is called “Woman and Pearls.” It’s signed “Wassmer” in the lower left hand corner. Can you give me an idea of its value?

A: Theodore Wassmer (1910-2006) was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He began painting in the 1930s and worked on several murals for the Works Progress Administration before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. His painting arm was partially paralyzed after an operation while in the service but he continued to paint. He and his wife lived in Bearsville, New York, near the Woodstock Art Colony, for several years before returning to Salt Lake City.

Wassmer did over 2,000 paintings and drawings, most done after 1945. Your painting should be seen by an art expert to determine its value.

Current prices

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.

Shooting target, groundhog, paper, black-and-white print, sitting up on hind legs, Sold only by Sears, Roebuck &Co., 1950s, 6 x 9 inches, $10.

Kite rope winder, wooden spool, cylindrical handle, two oval center dowels, roper, c. 1905, 18 x 13 inches, $55.

Thermometer,weather station, outdoor, galvanized, meteorologist tool, France, Ets Maxant, 1970, 11 x 5 inches, $105.

Mardi Gras mask, bird, long beak, pink, purple, copper color brocade, molded papier-mache, silk velvet, c. 1930, $180.

Wine Press, oak, hardwood and cast iron, tabletop, slatted barrel, square base, bar handle, c. 1900, 9 x 12 x 12 inches, $275.

Andirons, George Washington, full figure, leaning on ledge, holding hat, plinth, swags, block feet, cast iron, c. 1875, 20 x 16 inches, $415.

Gumball machine, 1 cent, glass octagonal globe, red cast iron, round base and lid, star logo decal, 1950s, 15 x 8 inches, $740.

Carnival glass ice cream set, Peacock at urn, iridescent orange and gold, melon ribbed, scalloped rim, c. 1912, 10 inches, 7 piece set, $1,025.

Hall stand, mahogany, brass hooks, barley twist post and supports, curved rail, finial, spindle gallery, splay feet, c. 1880, 70 x 34 inches, $3,100.

Bridal veil, ivory lace, flowers and leaves, cathedral length, oval shape, Point de Gaze, Belgium, c. 1890, 65 x 105 inches, $5,665.

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