Military colectibles more than just weaponry
Military collectibles are more than swords and guns, although there are many antique and vintage weapons at the auctions. But there also are many other collectibles, uniforms, photographs or earlier daguerreotypes, scrimshaw, jewelry made from coins, vases made from brass bullet casings, stitched-wool pictures of boats, and many other crafts that were made during free time on ships, land or in prison camps.
The earliest ones found in sales and stores today probably are the intricate ship models and other crafts from the 1700s. During the Napoleonic Wars (1793 to 1815), more than 120,000 French prisoners were held in camps in England. There was nothing to do, so they began making all sorts of things from whatever materials they could find, such as straw, wood and bones from pigs and mutton eaten at dinner, and ivory from whales. The prisoners were not volunteers; they had been conscripted and left lives as carpenters, farmers and trades people with many skills.
The British let the prisoners sell their handiwork and keep the money. Gifts for children were popular, and games such as dominoes and cribbage were easy to make from square or rectangular pieces of bone. They were then given markings needed for the game.
One such set of dominoes seemed to be a collection of different nonmatching dominoes, perhaps using parts of other partial sets. The box holding the dominoes and a cribbage board had a sliding top. The set sold at an Eldred’s Marine auction for $960. The box is 6 1/2 inches long by 1 1/4 inches wide.
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Q: I have a tiger maple highboy that I am curious about. It has four long and two small drawers on top, one long over two small drawers on the bottom, two fan-carved drawers and a broken arch pediment. The metal label is embossed with “West Michigan Furniture Co. Holland, Michigan,” and there’s a Dutch girl with a windmill in the background. Any information you can provide would be helpful, especially a price.
A: In 1889, George Hummer along with partners Frank W. Hadded and Frederick Metz bought a flour mill in Holland, Michigan, and formed the West Michigan Furniture Co. It was the first large-scale furniture manufacturer in Holland and the first local factory with electric lights. The company made traditional bedroom and dining-room furniture for customers on the East Coast, then across the U.S. and Canada. Many reproductions of Chippendale and Queen Anne-style furniture were made during the Victorian period. While they are considered antiques, they are not as detailed and finely crafted as true period pieces, so they don’t command the same prices. Hummer died in 1920, and his descendants ran the company until 1976. Your 20th-century highboy is worth $200 to $500.
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Q: I’m trying to find information about the Leonard Cleanable Refrigerator. When were they made?
A: The Leonard Cleanable Refrigerator was invented by Charles H. Leonard in 1881. He and his brothers, Frank and Fred Leonard, founded Grand Rapids Refrigerator Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1883. Before the invention of electric refrigerators for home use in 1913, food was kept cool in an icebox. The Leonard Cleanable Refrigerator had removable linings, which made it easier to clean than other iceboxes. Leonard made several improvements to it over the years, including porcelain-lined interiors, which were added in 1907. The company made electrical refrigerators beginning in 1918. The company became the largest refrigerator manufacturer in the U.S. by the mid-1920s. The company merged with Kelvinator in 1926, and the name became Kelvinator-Leonard Co. There have been several changes in name and ownership since then, but the Leonard name no longer is used.
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Q: I’ve seen some interesting “antique” telephones online, and was wondering if the telephones work with modern wiring. I’d like to buy one if I can use it as a phone.
A: It depends on the mechanism and wiring in the phone. We tried hooking up two old phones and couldn’t get either of them to ring. There are sites online that show how to rewire an old phone so it works, and there are companies that will do the work for you. They also have replacement parts.
Q: My grandmother had a cookie jar, salt-and-pepper shakers and other pieces shaped like Little Red Riding Hood before 1960. I inherited the pieces and wonder if they are of any value.
A: Louise Elizabeth Bauer of Zanesville designed the Little Red Riding Hood cookie jar and patented it in 1943. She also designed small and large salt-and-pepper shakers. The blanks were made by A.E. Hull Pottery Co. of Crooksville and decorated by Royal China and Novelty Co. of Sebring. Early creamy white cookie jars may have been made by Hull, and later pure white jars were made by Royal China. Several variations of the cookie jar were made. The cookie jars have been reproduced. If the gold trim shows no wear, it may be a reproduction cookie jar. The prices for Little Red Riding Hood cookie jars have dropped since the 1980s from $100-$200 to $60-$75.
Tip: Don’t store a diamond with other jewelry. It may scratch the other stones.