Archive for Sunday, October 24, 1999


October 24, 1999


As long as people are concerned with their looks there will be a need for the vanity dresser.

King Features Syndicate

Tight-fitting clothes and elaborate powdered wigs and hairdos were popular with both men and women in the 18th century. Small tables with drawers for combs, brushes and mirrors were made for the bedrooms of the well-to-do.

At first, the mirrors were small because it was difficult to make large pieces of glass, but by the 19th century, the dressing table, or vanity, was much like it is today. A table with drawers and shelves held a large mirror. Sheraton designed several in 1801 that had numerous compartments and a cloth, swagged skirt at the bottom.

By Victorian times, the vanity was made as part of a set of matching furniture. The 1920s was the time of great demand for the vanity. A round mirror was used above a desklike table with drawers, and the top of the table was often glass, a surface that was not harmed by spilled makeup. Other vanities were made to match furniture of the Colonial Revival, Arts and Crafts or Modern styles. Many dressing tables were made with ruffled skirts that matched the owner's bedroom window curtains.

Decorating books are once again featuring dressing tables for the bedroom, especially for the teen-age girl, so examples from past eras are selling well.

  • The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. By sending a letter, you give full permission for its use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and addresses will be kept confidential. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. The Kovels cannot guarantee return of any photograph. If you wish other information about antiques, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope, and the Kovels will send you a listing of helpful books and publications. Write to Kovels, The Lawrence Journal-World, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

  • When my son was 7 years old (in 1974), he bartered with a friend for a Mickey Mouse wristwatch. The watch didn't work, and it had no band, so I put it away. I just came across it again, and an antiques dealer I know wants to buy it.

The watch reads, "Bradley" at the top, "Mickey Mouse" in the center and "Swiss Made, Walt Disney Productions" across the bottom. Mickey's hands point to Roman numeral hours, and there are second markers around the rotating outside frame. Mickey's hands are red. The dealer says he has never seen a watch with Mickey's hands colored red. Is it rare, or at least old?

Your Mickey Mouse watch was made in 1973 or '74 by Bradley Time, a division of the Elgin Watch Co. Bradley was the official licensee for Walt Disney character watches from late 1972 to 1985. During this period, Bradley made 1,800 different styles of character watches, and many of the Mickey Mouse watches have red hands. If you had the original band and box, and if the watch worked, it would be worth $300 or more. In its present condition, your watch has little value.

We have inherited a set of six cut-glass drinking glasses. There is a mark on the bottom of each glass. It is a trefoil shape, with two birds and a fleur-de-lis inside. The word "Hawkes" is etched under the mark. We have been unable to learn anything about the manufacturer.

Your glasses were made by T.G. Hawkes & Co. of Corning, N.Y., sometime after 1890. The company was formed in 1880 by Thomas G. Hawkes, who, 23 years later, helped Frederick Carder found the Steuben Glass Works in Corning. T.G. Hawkes & Co. made "brilliant cut" glass. The company closed in 1959.

My kitchenware collection includes an old tool I cannot identify. It is a two-handled, wooden press that's small enough to hold in one hand. It is hinged. One side of the press has small holes. The other side is solid.

Your kitchen tool is a lard press. Most lard presses date from 1800 to 1850, when many families, even nonfarm families, raised hogs. When a hog was slaughtered, the fat used to make lard was extracted, cooked and wrapped in a cloth. It was then squeezed in the lard press, which was held holes-side down over a bowl. The liquid lard that dripped through the holes was saved for cooking. The pork scraps that remained in the cloth were eaten as snacks.

I have collected old china cups and saucers for years. I just came across a cup with a small lip guard on one side. There's a hole within the guard for sipping. Can you tell me the reason that this type of cup was made?

A cup with a lip guard is called a "mustache cup." Mustache cups were popular during Victorian times, when many men sported mustaches. The guard on the cup kept the mustache dry and prevented any hair wax on the mustache from melting. Most mustache cups were made individually, rather than on a production line. There are reproductions on the market, so be careful.

My grandfather worked in a glass factory in Missouri sometime before 1900. I was told his foot was injured in a factory accident. I recently found the old X-ray of his foot. It is on a glass plate about half an inch thick. Is it worth anything?

X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a German physics professor. They were used for medical purposes soon after that. Therefore, the X-ray you found could be close to 100 years old. Because it is so old, your X-ray might be of interest to a medical collector or a museum.


If a chair rung is loose, try putting a sliver of wood or a small wad of steel wool into the hole; then put glue in the hole and on the rung and push the rung into the hole.

  • Kovels' Yellow Pages is the new resource for experienced and rookie collectors. Trying to sell some of your collection? Need a liner for a salt dish or a cup and saucer to match Grandmother's Haviland? This book lists phone, fax, e-mail and Internet addresses for more than 3,000 suppliers, clubs, auctions, services and industry sources that help with the problems of selling, buying and fixing. Send $18 plus $3 postage to Kovel, Box 22900, Beachwood, Ohio, 44122 or call (800) 571-1555.

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