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Archive for Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kovel’s Antiques: Seek unique Father’s Day gifts

May 27, 2012

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Father’s Day is coming in June, so think ahead and try to find a unique gift for your father. Shop at a flea market or antiques shop.

Some of today’s movies and TV series have made the “look” of the 1950s and ’60s popular. Shirts with buttonholes, not buttons, on sleeve cuffs need cufflinks.

Most dealers who sell jewelry also sell inexpensive and unusual vintage cufflinks — costume jewelry links more than 50 years old — for $10 to $30. Expensive silver and gold cufflinks with precious stones can sell for $750 to $1,000.

The breast pocket handkerchief also has come back. These often are seen at flea markets, carefully folded and stacked, at prices from $2 to $15.

Old toy trains, cars and games are easy to find, and so are bookends, duck decoys and tools. The list is almost endless.

Smoking is out of style, but all the collectibles associated with smoking are easy to find. Ashtrays, old lithographed tin boxes that held tobacco, bargain-priced carved Meershaum pipes with amber mouthpieces, advertising signs and cigarette lighters are interesting gifts even if your father doesn’t smoke.

The most unusual find this year originally was used by a cigar smoker, but it probably is displayed on a library shelf today, useless but fun. It is a French walnut and ivory cigar cutter shaped like a small guillotine. The 19th-century oddity, called a “Guillotube,” is 17 3/4 inches high and has a working blade. Keep it locked away from children. It’s a macabre reminder of the French Revolution and of the danger of smoking cigars. It sold for $1,464 at a 2011 auction in New Orleans.

I own an Eames lounge chair and ottoman I purchased in the 1970s. I have had offers from dealers who want to purchase the set even though the leather on the ottoman is heavily worn. If I have the ottoman re-covered, would I increase the set’s value?

The famous Eames lounge chair and ottoman have been in continuous production since 1956. In the United States, the manufacturer since the beginning has been Herman Miller, Inc., of Zeeland, Mich.

We suspect that your chair interests dealers because of the plywood frame’s finish. Chairs that have plywood frames with Brazilian rosewood veneer sell for high prices because an embargo on Brazilian rosewood has been in place since 1992. Don’t bother re-covering the ottoman.

Tip: Allergic to dust and dust mites? Put old stuffed animals in a sealed plastic bag, then put the bag in your freezer for 24 hours. The temperature will kill dust mites and their eggs.

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