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Archive for Sunday, August 5, 2001

Davenport desks have write purpose

Numerous small drawers designed to hold stationery, stamps and other items

August 5, 2001

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In America, you sit on a davenport, but in England you write on one. That's because the word has very different meanings in the two countries.

The davenport desk is a small writing desk with a slanted lift top and drawers on the side, not in the front. The Victorian form was often made in small sizes to be used in a lady's bedroom. The many drawers were of varied sizes to hold stationery, stamps, pens and other items used at a desk. Many davenports found today have elaborate veneer and carved decorations. Small desks are very popular.

This Victorian carved rosewood davenport desk was made about 1850.
The small top drawer is opened by a secret button. It sold for more
than $3,000.

This Victorian carved rosewood davenport desk was made about 1850. The small top drawer is opened by a secret button. It sold for more than $3,000.

The davenport sells for prices from a few thousand dollars to more than $15,000, depending on history, quality and beauty.

My mother's old electric iron still works. She bought it in 1948. I would like to know if it is among the first electric irons made and if it's worth anything. We have the original red-and-white box. It has a picture of Betty Crocker on it and reads "General Mills Tru-Heat Iron, Made by General Mills Inc., Home Appliance Dept., Minneapolis 13, Minn."

A New Yorker named Henry W. Seely received a U.S. patent for an electric iron in 1882. Production of electric irons and electric appliances in general was hampered by a lack of power plants and the slow pace of wiring households. But by the early years of the 20th century, electric irons were being sold to many laundries and some households.

General Mills, best known for its cereals, entered the small-appliance business in 1946. Each of its appliances was marketed with the phrase "Sponsored by Betty Crocker." By the end of 1949, the company had manufactured more than 2 million Tru-Heat irons.

General Mills sold its appliance business to the McGraw Electric Co. in 1954. A collector would pay about $75 for your iron and its box.

I inherited an ornamental ceramic figure that was made about 50 years ago. The figure is a woman wearing only a hat and sitting atop a globe. She is resting her right hand on a book and petting a dog with her left hand.

The globe has ships painted on the oceans, and trees and animals painted on the continents. The mark on the bottom reads "Lenci, Made in Italy, Torino." Can you tell me something about the maker?

Lenci was founded in 1919 in Turin, Italy. The company is best known as a dollmaker, but it also produced ceramics from 1928 until 1964 (ceramics production started again in 1999).

During the 1950s, when your globe was probably made, Lenci produced ceramic plates, vases, boxes, coffee and tea sets, small statues, licensed Disney figurines and original pieces like your globe.

I'm cleaning out my childhood home, and I found all my old Little Golden Books. They are 40 to 50 years old, but I know the books are still being published.

Little Golden Books are still on the market, but old ones are very popular with collectors. The books were first published in 1942. Until 1947, they had blue spines with dust jackets.

The early books are the most valuable, especially if they're in mint condition with intact dust jackets. A mint first edition of "Three Little Kittens" sells for up to $200.

If your books are editions from the 1950s and '60s, most of them would sell for $10 to $30, depending on condition, back cover, spine design and edition number.

My leaf-shaped, silver-plated candy dish is marked with three crowns, two above and one below. I paid $12 for the dish, but the dealer could not identify the mark. Can you?

Your candy dish, also called a nut bowl, was made by Three Crowns Industries of Pottstown, Pa. The company worked from 1947 to 1961 and made bar sets, tea and coffee sets, serving pieces and candlesticks.

Royal Hickman, a designer whose name appears on some Three Crowns pieces, created the company's leaf-shaped dishes. Hickman also worked as a designer at Haeger Pottery and the A.H. Heisey Glass Co.

I have an old eggbeater with a Bakelite handle. When was it made?

Bakelite was used for many types of kitchen utensils from the late 1920s through the '40s. Many of the Bakelite-handled eggbeaters were made in the '30s.

Clarification: We recently answered a question about an old cash register marked "Ohmer Register Co., Factory at Dayton, Ohio." Two readers wrote to us, one who worked for Ohmer, and one whose father worked there. They explained that Ohmer made cash registers and fare meters for buses and taxis, so it directly competed with National Cash Register Co. Ohmer Register Co. was sold to Rockwell in 1950 and stopped making cash registers the following year.

The Kovels answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for its use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Lawrence Journal-World, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017.

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