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Archive for Sunday, March 2, 2003

Crimper popular to seal pie’s edge

March 2, 2003

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Have you crimped a pie lately? Most of us have not. Instead, we buy pies at the bakery or grocery store.

In past centuries, making a pie was a complicated task. The pie-crust dough was mixed, rolled and stored over ice until it could be formed into the two large circles used for the top and bottom crusts. A crimper, known as a jagger in the 19th century, was used to cut the excess crust away and to make the small dents or crimps that sealed the edge of the pie.

The crimper could also cut lattice strips to form a fancier crust on top. Pies were made for several meals a week in the 19th century. A special decorated pie crimper was a popular gift for a sweetheart or wife. Many sailors carved whalebone handles in attractive shapes.

More than 139 different designs of scrimshaw, or whalebone, pie crimpers are known.

My ornate writing table is made in French Renaissance style. The label on the bottom reads "Ketcham & Rothschild Inc., Chicago, Ill., Upholstered Furniture." Does that help you date it?

The style and label help. Ketcham & Rothschild manufactured furniture in Chicago from about 1870 to 1930. The ornate Renaissance Revival style was popular in the United States from the mid-1800s to the late Victorian era. Your desk was probably made in the 1890s.

I have an old desktop stapler made of white metal. It is 4 inches long and 4 1/2 inches tall. I don't know how the staples were inserted. It is marked "Hotchkiss No. 1, The E.H. Hotchkiss Co., Norwalk, Conn., USA." How old is it?

The E.H. Hotchkiss Co. was one of the country's first manufacturers of staplers. Early ones like yours have a "ramhead" that had to be hit with a mallet to release the staples. The No. 1 model, sold before 1896, comes with a curved "tail" that was used to feed the staples. Most of the No. 1 models around today have lost their tails. We suspect that's what happened to yours.

I'm an amateur pianist and own an Ivers & Pond grand piano. The back of the piano case is stamped with the year 1883. The inside is marked 1884. The wood is solid black walnut with a golden burled walnut veneer. Can you tell me the history of this piano company?

Ivers & Pond was incorporated in Boston in 1872. The dates on your piano are most likely patent dates, not manufacture dates. Your piano was probably made sometime after 1884. Check for a serial number on the piano's soundboard. That is a better clue as to when the piano was made. Ivers & Pond pianos were so well-known that the name continued as a brand after the Aeolian Co. bought out Ivers & Pond early in the 20th century. President John F. Kennedy's family had an Ivers & Pond grand piano.

THIS POINTING HAND IS THE HANDLE FOR A 19TH-century pie crimper. It
was carved from whalebone and recently sold for $2,200.

THIS POINTING HAND IS THE HANDLE FOR A 19TH-century pie crimper. It was carved from whalebone and recently sold for $2,200.

My mother owns a set of 12 white plates. Each one has a different scene of people wearing 18th-century clothes. The wide borders of the plates are decorated with gold and pink flowers. There are two marks on some plates. One mark is a D below a crown, and the other is "Ovington Bros., New York." Other plates have one mark or the other. Can you determine maker, decorator and value?

The D (for Dresden)-and-crown mark was used by a porcelain decorator named Helena Wolfsohn. Her decorating firm opened in Dresden, Germany, about 1843 and started using the D-and-crown mark about 1886. Wolfsohn purchased blank porcelain plates from manufacturers. Ovington Bros. was an American importer. The company was in business from the 1890s through the beginning of the 1920s. Exporters and importers did not always mark every dish in a set. Your mother's set of 12 plates could sell for $500 or more.

I have a toy called a "Mouseketeer Electric TV Story Teller." It was made by T. Cohn Inc. of Brooklyn, N.Y. The "television" is 13 by 9 by 10 inches. It's really a low-tech movie-reel viewer with a built-in record player. I have the toy's original box, along with four reels and four records: "Dumbo," "Snow White," "Peter Pan" and "Pinocchio." The instructions explain how to turn on the electric motor for the movie reel at the same time you place the phonograph needle on the record. Can you tell me the age and value of my toy?

"The Mickey Mouse Club" premiered on television in 1955. T. Cohn manufactured toys during the 1940s and '50s. Your Mouseketeer toy dates from the mid-1950s. It is one of several film, slide or viewer toys licensed by Disney since the 1930s. These toys sell for prices ranging from just a few dollars to a few hundred. The price depends on age, quality, condition and rarity.

Tip

Use a credit card to scrape hardened candle wax from a table.

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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.

  • Rudolph Valentino cigar box, "The Sheik of Five Cent Cigars," photo of Valentino, gray ground, red lettering, M.H. Sevis & Son, Red Lion, Pa., 1920s, $190.
  • "Gone With the Wind" theater ticket, "Colored" balcony seating, March 10, 1939, 2 p.m. matinee, unused, $550.
  • Needlework sampler, alphabets in shades of blue and brown, silk thread on linen, house, hearts, birds, "Mary C. Root, born March 14th, 1822," 18 x 19 inches, $525.
  • 1972 George McGovern campaign pin, designed by Peter Max, green, brown, white and blue, 1 1/2 inches, $625.
  • Wallace Nutting comb-back Windsor writing armchair, left-handed model, baluster and ring turnings, scrolled handhold and ears, 43 1/2 inches, $2,750.

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