Don't forget about a dog to go with an old house, antique furnishings and vintage clothes.
It could be a live King Charles spaniel or a figurine. The figurines, called "comforter dogs" or "Staffordshire spaniels," were inspired by the King Charles spaniel, named for King Charles II of England, who had a pet spaniel in the late 1600s. The potters of Staffordshire made many figurines depicting this breed. Pairs of seated pottery dogs were made to face each other from each end of a fireplace mantel. The dog always had big eyes and an inverted "smile" and wore a collar and chain with a padlock.
The dog figurines date from 1720 to the present, but the most interesting and most collectible were made from 1840 to the 1890s. Beware of reproductions. An old dog has a hole about an eighth of an inch in diameter in the base for heat to escape during the manufacturing process. If the hole is larger, sometimes as big as a quarter, you have a 20th-century version. Later dogs are often marked with the words "Staffordshire" or "Made in England." Old dogs are usually unmarked. A matched pair of dogs is worth more than two single dogs. Dogs with rust coats are the most common. All-white dogs are rare, but not as popular with collectors.
Q: My family has owned a wooden armchair for many years. The metal label on the bottom reads "Kuchins, Color Kist, Made in Grand Rapids." Can you give us some history on the maker?
A: Kuchins Furniture Manufacturing Co. made dinette suites, tables, chairs and cabinets at factories in Grand Rapids, Mich., and St. Louis from 1929 to 1940. Color Kist was the company's trade name.
Q: I still have an Orphan Annie wristwatch that I received as a Christmas gift in 1943. It has a rectangular face and its original band. I had it cleaned by a jeweler three years ago, and it works. What is it worth today?
A: The New Haven Watch Co. introduced its first comic-character wristwatches in 1933-'34. One of the three characters offered was Orphan Annie. The other two were Dick Tracy and Smitty (who is not remembered as well as the others). After World War II, New Haven made other models of the Orphan Annie watch. So, either your watch is a 1930s model or you received a 1940s version for Christmas a few years after 1943. The 1930s watch face is 25 percent larger than the 1940s face. Whichever model you have, it's worth more than $800 if it's in excellent or better condition.