Sewing was an everyday activity for the 19th-century housewife. Often, a special table that held sewing supplies and needlework was kept near the living room. The sewing table became a special furniture form. It looked like a small table with a lift top, but there was sometimes a cloth bag or wooden structure below the top to hold sewing work. The top of the table held a tray or box filled with sewing accessories, including many that would not be recognized today. You would find the usual scissors, needles, pincushion, tape measure, thimble and thimble holder, thread winder, pin holder and knitting and lace-making tools. Less usual were thread waxers, sewing clamps and containers for marking powder. Sometimes knitting was stored in the lower bag, along with accessories like knitting needles, a needle holder, yarn winders and a yarn holder that could be worn on the wrist. The table kept everything in one handy place and could still be used to hold a candle, teacup or book. The sewing table was popular from about 1800 to 1900, after which time less sewing was done at home.
Q: My father bought an old, very heavy, coal-and-gas double-oven cooking stove at an estate sale about 60 years ago. He installed it in our house and converted it to natural gas. It still works perfectly. The white porcelain stove with black trim has the name "Round Oak" on the front. A plate inside one of the two bottom storage doors reads "Round Oak Co., Dowagiac, Mich.," but a metal plate on the back reads "Beckwith Co." Can you fill in some history?
A: The Round Oak Stove Co. was founded by Phil D. Beckwith in 1871. It played an important role in the history of Dowagiac, spurring the city's growth in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The company became one of the largest heating-stove manufacturers in the world. By the 1900s, Round Oak was also making furnaces and cooking stoves. Stoves with porcelain bodies and trim were introduced in the United States after World War I, when Round Oak was still a strong company. Your stove was probably manufactured during the 1920s. Round Oak closed after World War II. Contact the museum at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac for more information on your stove. It has the country's largest collection of Round Oak Stove Co. artifacts.
Q: What is my old dark-green bottle worth? The front is embossed with a picture of a floor safe and the words "Franks Safe Kidney & Liver Cure, Rochester, N.Y., Wheaton, N.J." The embossed words on the back say, "Since 1892 works wonders. This is not a polite way of drinking. Nothing in this remedy will grow on anyone. No danger of contracting the drink or any other kind of habit."
A: Any antique bottle that has the word "cure" on it is called a "cure bottle" by collectors. But your bottle is not antique. During the 1970s, '80s and even into the '90s, Wheaton Co. of Millville, N.J., manufactured antique-style flasks, decanters and cure and bitters bottles. Any bottle marked "Wheaton" is a recent reproduction or "fantasy" bottle (a fantasy looks old, but doesn't copy a genuine old bottle). Wheaton reproductions generally sell for $3 to $5.
Q: I have a photograph of my mother taken at the 1933-'34 Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago. She was a model and is shown in the photo trying on a pottery hat that could double as a planter. It's a woman's hat with a clay feather on the side. The hat-planter was made by Haeger Pottery. What can you tell me about the company?
A: Haeger Potteries of Dundee, Ill., dates back to 1871 and is still in business. The company started making commercial artwares in 1914 and by the 1920s was well-established. At the Chicago World's Fair, Haeger set up an exhibit that included a complete pottery plant where hand-throwers created special pieces for visitors and produced a line of World's Fair souvenirs. Haeger has made a few hat-shaped planters, but the hat your mother tried on at the fair was probably a humorous one-of-a-kind piece. Did she get to keep it?
Q: I have a porcelain vase that has been in our family for more than 80 years. It's 13 inches tall with a fluted top edged in gold. It's decorated with the portrait bust of a woman in Spanish dress. The bottom is marked with a head in armor, the initials " and the word "Warwick" over a pair of crossed swords. Origin and value?
A: Warwick China Co. was incorporated in Wheeling, W.Va., in 1887 and closed in 1951. Warwick made tens of thousands of dinnerware sets, both porcelain and semiporcelain, including hotel ware. The company also made decorative wares, including vases like yours, during its early years. Decorations were either decals or hand-painted. Warwick used many marks throughout the decades. The helmet-and-crossed-swords mark was registered in 1905. The initials "IOGA" are found on many American pottery items; some say the acronym stands for the union-related phrase "Industry Organized, Government Approved." Your vase, which dates from before 1920, would sell for about $200.
Swish some vinegar in a stained coffee or teacup. Then wash and dry the cup. The stains will disappear.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations.
¢ Val St. Lambert vase, bottle form, tapered neck, cranberry cut to clear, swags and floral design, marked, 6 1/2 inches, $145.
¢ American-Maid Bread pot scraper, metal, die-cut in shape of bread loaf, red, white and blue, 1 3/4 x 3 inches, $175.
¢ Gabby doll, "Gulliver's Travels," composition lower body, legs and feet are wood, copyright Paramount Pictures 1939, Ideal Novelty Co., 10 1/2 inches, $335.
¢ Quilt, pieced, handwritten signatures within eight-sided stars, white background, red, yellow and green stars, dated January 20, 1854, 69 x 83 inches, $435.
¢ Star Trek lunchbox and thermos, metal, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock on thermos, Starship Enterprise on box, marked "1968 Paramount Pictures," 9 inches, $840.
¢ Adam and Eve sampler, silk on linen, 6 lines of verse, flowers and vine border, flying cherubs, stags, Adam and Eve by tree with snake, Ellen Bell 1804, 19 x 14 inches, $920.
¢ Royal Doulton commemorative loving cup, 25-year reign of King George V and Queen Mary, England, 1953, 10 inches, $940.
l Spatterware platter, brown and yellow peafowl in green tree, mid-19th century, 15 x 11 inches, $1,610.
¢ Blanket chest, with till, pine and poplar, red wash, blue with red outline, vases of red, blue and yellow flowers, bracket feet, c. 1855, 50 x 23 x 23 inches, $1,840.
¢ Folk-art angel weathervane, carved wood, angel blowing horn, white, orange, yellow and red paint, cut iron studs, 1930s, 22 x 70 x 2 inches, $2,415.