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Archive for Sunday, July 15, 2001

Country tables fair game for collectors

Furniture designs feature felt-covered tops, drawers to hold pieces

July 15, 2001

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Our 19th-century ancestors played games to pass the time. There was no television or radio, and organized sporting events were rare. Even books were scarce outside of cities.

Many types of games were popular: card games, backgammon, checkers, whist and gambling games. A well-furnished city home had a game table. The table was usually in the style that was popular for the best living-room furniture. The top of the table could swivel or slide to reveal a game-board surface.

Sometimes the top was covered in felt or needlepoint to make a quiet surface for chips or playing pieces. The top was often inlaid or painted with a favorite game board. Most game tables also had a drawer for storage of cards, chips or other game pieces.

Country furniture makers also had customers who wanted game tables that would blend in with their furniture. So simple tables with straight, undecorated legs were made. The top was designed as a suitable game surface.

The country tables are harder to find than the sophisticated city designs. Perhaps the farmers worked harder and had less time for leisure.

I have an 1896 calendar tile made by Wedgwood. The name "Jones McDuffee & Stratton, Boston" also appears on the front. Were these tiles made for many years?

Jones, McDuffee & Stratton were ceramics dealers and importers in Boston. They ordered the calendars for their customers from 1881 to 1910.

Each 3-1/2-by-4-3/4-inch tile had a transfer-printed scene of Boston and a calendar with the company name, because this was their ad. The tile was used as a paperweight.

The bottom of my brass scale reads "Pelouze Scale Mfg. Co., Chicago." Also listed are patents from June 2, 1896, to May 26, 1903.

It is an unusual scale, with a platform and a pointer that slides up and down a brass chart that shows the weight and a price. The brass plate reads "Crescent Postal Scale." What can you tell me about it?

Your postal scale was made in inexpensive versions for stores. Better scales were made for companies like Gorham, Tiffany and Heintz Art.

An expensive case that matched a desk set was added to the scale. Gorham used silver, Tiffany had some glass set in the case and the Heintz Art Metal Shop pieces were bronze with silver overlay. The postal rates listed on the brass chart can help date the scale. Decorated postal scales are rare.

My Pillsbury Doughboy mug is marked "1979 U.S.A." I've seen Doughboy cookie jars, teapots, soap dishes and salt and pepper shakers, but never a mug. How much is it worth?

Pillsbury has been in business since 1869. The Doughboy was introduced in 1966. His name became Poppin' Fresh in 1971, the same year his female partner, Poppie Fresh, was introduced.

The Doughboy, in his chef's hat, has been used on all sorts of promotional items, including dolls, figurines, clocks, radios, banks, telephones and frosting dispensers.

If your mug is ceramic, it would sell for about $15. A plastic one sells for about $5.

I've been cleaning out my dresser, and I found a couple of souvenir handkerchiefs that were given to me as a child. One is decorated with a map of my home state, Minnesota. The other features California, which I remember visiting in the early 1960s. Do people collect souvenir hankies?

Souvenir handkerchiefs are collected, as are all sorts of hankies decorated with calendars, flowers, holiday designs or cartoon characters. Most state souvenir hankies sell for $7 to $10.

I was going to throw out my 1950s Hamilton Beach blender, but my daughter had a fit. She said it's a collectible. I decided to give it to her but I'm wondering if she's daffy. If she's not, what's the blender worth? It's the kind with a round base.

Early electrical appliances, like toasters and waffle irons, have become popular with collectors.

The Waring Blendor, called a Miracle Mixer at the time, was introduced at a Chicago trade show in 1937. World War II interrupted the development and production of blenders. After the war, blenders were produced by dozens of companies.

A 1950s Hamilton Beach blender with a chrome base sells for $65 to $75. A blender with a painted base sells for $10 to $15 less.

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