Kovel: Sewing boxes sometimes imaginatively designed
Every household had a person who could make, alter and mend clothing before the sewing machine was invented in 1842.Learning to darn, mend and make samplers was part of the education for girls rich enough to go to school in a city. So every famil...
Every household had a person who could make, alter and mend clothing before the sewing machine was invented in 1842.
Learning to darn, mend and make samplers was part of the education for girls rich enough to go to school in a city. So every family had a sewing basket or table with all of the needles, thread, scissors and other small items used when sewing.
The main room of the house, near a fireplace or stove, often was the place chosen to keep the sewing supplies, and the wife did the sewing in the evening while chatting with her family. The sewing box was attractive, often a skillfully crafted wooden box or even a table with a lift top that opened to a bag that held fabrics. But sometimes the sewing box was imaginative, made in the shape of a house or covered in painted designs.
At a 2015 auction, a decorated folk-art Victorian sewing box was offered for sale. The house-shaped box had a fabric-covered pin cushion in the center of the "roof," which opened to expose a compartmented lift-out tray. The house had a brick foundation, front porch and windows with shutters. It was in a 20-by-2-inch "yard" with a picket fence. It looks like a dollhouse, so it must have been tempting for children to try to see inside.
It sold for $3,075 at the Skinner sale in Boston.
Q: We got this personal Camel cigarettes tin ashtray from my husband's aunt several years ago. We still have the original box it came in. His aunt came from a time when women couldn't smoke in public and she had to sneak her cigarettes. What is it worth?
A: This portable tin Camel "cigarette case" is small enough to fit into a pocket or purse. When you push in the bottom of the box, the retractable ashtray slides out and the cigarette rest pops out. They sell online for about $6 to $12.
Q: I have a large cup with a handle that has writing and pictures on it. There is a poem on one side. On the other side is a bundle of wheat sheaves in a circle and the words "In God we trust, The Farmer's Arms." Four pictures of farm implements are around the circle. The cup is marked on the bottom "Adams, Est. 1657, England." Is it old or valuable?
A: Your cup was made by William Adams and Sons, which was founded in Staffordshire, England, in 1769. The date in the mark refers to an earlier pottery founded by John Adams, a relative.
William Adams and Sons became part of the Wedgwood Group in 1966. The name "Adams" was used on some items through 1998. This large cup is sometimes called a "mush cup" and sometimes just a large coffee cup. It was made in the late 19th or early 20th century, and sells today for about $30, double if there is a saucer.
Q: I'm looking for information on a chair made by the B.L. Marble Chair Co. of Bedford, Ohio. Can you help?
A: The company was founded by Barzilla L. Marble. He worked at two other Bedford furniture makers before going into partnership with A.L. Shattuck to found The Marble and Shattuck Chair Company in 1885.
Marble founded the B.L. Marble Chair Co. in 1894, making wooden chairs. The company made office furniture beginning in 1910. It merged with The Dictaphone Corporation in 1965 and the name became The Marble Imperial Furniture Company. The company went out of business in 1985.
Q: My mother was given a pewter vase as a wedding gift. It's inscribed on the bottom "Pewter by Calatoff, hand wrought 5075." My mother is 95 years old, so I know the vase is very old, though not necessarily valuable. What can you tell me about its age and value?
A: The maker is Galatoff, not Calatoff, and it probably was made in the early 1940s, assuming your mother was married when she was in her early 20s. We couldn't find any information about the maker, but Galatoff pewter items sell for moderate prices. An ice cream bowl was listed for $20, a two-handled centerpiece bowl for $30, an incense burner for $20 and a jug for $75.
Q: My dad was given a wooden boat model built by prisoners when he was the administrator of the Leesburg Prison Farm in Leesburg, N.J., in the late 1940s. It was a gift. It's a cabin cruiser, 36 inches long, and is in good condition. I'd like to know where I might be able to sell it.
A: Prison art is collectible. If you search the words "prison art" online, you'll find several sites that sell prison art or buy it.
Some prisons offer art therapy or art lessons for prisoners, while others provide the time or materials for the prisoner to produce art on his own. A Tennessee art college worked with prisoners on death row to create work for a gallery showing.
Richard Matt, a convicted murderer serving time in an upstate New York prison, did portraits of movie stars and other famous people based on photographs. He bartered some of his paintings and drawings for tools he used in his escape. Those who sell prison art must buy it first. One of the sites might buy your boat.
Tip: Candle drippings can be removed from fabric or furniture with the help of ice cubes. Rub the wax with the ice until the wax hardens. Scrape off the hard wax with a credit card or stiff cardboard. If some wax remains, put a blotter over it and then iron with a cool iron.
For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel's website, www.kovels.com .
Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovel, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.