Meerschaum pipes are legendary.
They are prized by smokers and collectors. Meerschaum is a gray, white or cream-colored mineral called magnesium silicate. The name meerschaum is from the German word meaning "sea foam."
In earlier times, the mineral was found floating in the Black Sea, and it was believed to be petrified sea foam. Meerschaum is light and porous, creating a cool and smooth smoke. The pipe absorbs nicotine and tar from the burning tobacco, and the meerschaum changes in color to tan or brown. The color change adds to the value. Meerschaum was also used for cigar and cigarette holders. Because the mineral is soft, it is easy to carve. Many fanciful pipes were made in the shape of animals, people or fruits. Antique carved meerschaum pipes sell for hundreds of dollars. Many collectors display their pipes and don't smoke them.
Can you tell me anything about my old fall-front desk? It has four drawers, Chippendale feet and a curved front that's convex on the sides and concave in the middle. The mark on it is "Union Furniture Co. of Rockford, Ill., est. 1876, No. 524."
The Union Furniture Co. manufactured Colonial Revival furniture until about 1930. Union's production included bookcases, bookcase-desks, ladies' desks, secretary desks and desks like yours, called Governor Winthrop desks. Governor Winthrop desks were given their name in the 19th century. The form -- an American Queen Anne- or Chippendale-style slant-top desk with an oxbow front -- was introduced during the 18th century. John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Colony, was long dead before the form got its name. Union made the desks in a few different sizes. The wood is mahogany veneer and solid mahogany. The desks originally retailed for $63 to $106. Value today is about $750.
I inherited my grandmother's ceramic cookie jar. My mother says that it could be about 60 years old. It is in the shape of a pig wearing a tuxedo and top hat. He is holding a cane. Unfortunately, the jar seems to be very brittle. The glazed surface, both outside and inside, has many tiny, connecting cracks. There are no cracks or chips on the jar itself, but I'm afraid it will crumble into a million pieces whenever I touch it. Is there anything I can do to strengthen the surface? I don't care about the jar's monetary value, but it has a lot of sentimental value.
From your description, we think your cookie jar is Brush Pottery's "Formal Pig." Brush Pottery was in business from 1925 to 1982 in Zanesville, Ohio. Formal Pig was made between 1946 and 1956. In excellent condition, the jar sells for about $300. The glaze on your jar has crazed because the clay body and the glaze had different shrinkage rates. To preserve the jar, keep it out of the reach of children and handle it as little as possible. Since you don't care about selling it, try coating the interior with a diluted mixture of white glue. Or visit a crafts store and buy a jar of the preservative used to coat completed jigsaw puzzles. You can then also use the preservative on the outside if you are comfortable with the way it looks on the inside.
Several years ago, I purchased a 23-inch table lamp with a bronze base and a leaded-glass shade. The red, green, yellow and white glass in the shade creates a floral design. The shade is 18 inches in diameter. The bottom of the base is marked "Rainaud 20." Any information?
H.E. Rainaud Co. made lamps in Meriden, Conn., from about 1916 until 1930. Meriden was also home to Bradley & Hubbard and the Handel Lamp Co., two more famous manufacturers of art-glass lamps. Rainaud table lamps in near-mint condition are valued at $800 or more.
Years ago, my mother gave me a clear glass pitcher because I liked it so much. It's covered with several designs, including a ship named the Olympia, a cannon, two flags and the face of a soldier. The pitcher is 9 1/2 inches tall, with a short pedestal foot and a smooth, rounded handle.
Your pitcher is a piece of American historical pressed glass. Collectors refer to it as the No. 400 Dewey pitcher. It honors George Dewey (1837-1917), the U.S. naval hero of the Spanish-American War battle that took place on May 1, 1898, in Manila Bay, Philippines. Dewey was given the rank of admiral in March of 1899. American glassmakers made several pieces of pressed glass to honor Dewey. The pieces included bowls, tumblers, plates, covered dishes and pitchers. A pitcher sells for about $150.
If you have an alarm system, set it each time you leave the house, not just at night. Most home burglaries occur during the day or early evening.¢
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