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THE KOVELS | Antiques and collectibles Construction makes garden seats rare

Published: Sun, July 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.

Did you ever sit on an antique majolica garden seat? Were the breakable seats taken inside in the winter?
Times were different in the 19th century, when the garden seat was most popular.
One of the largest groups of majolica wares made in England was related to gardens and conservatories (glass-sided, indoor garden rooms). Jardinieres, flowerpots, stands, pedestals, fountains and garden seats were made in large quantities until about 1914.
Majolica garden pieces were ornamental because of the fragile nature of the material. They could easily chip or crack. They were kept inside glass rooms and protected from the weather.
Victorian majolica garden seats are now so expensive, it is unlikely that they would be placed outside.
Q. A new blockbuster movie about Pearl Harbor recently came out. My father's collection of Pearl Harbor collectibles is extensive. He was in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, and later collected posters, pins, stickers, patches, medals and even matchbooks that say "Pearl Harbor." Some of the pictures of the Japanese would be considered offensive today. Is the collection worth anything?
A. Pearl Harbor collectibles are historic artifacts. Everything in your father's collection would be of interest to collectors and historical societies. Posters in excellent condition can sell for $100, and even cloth patches go for $35 or more. If you don't want to sell anything but would like others to see the collection, call your local historical society and ask the director if the society would like to exhibit your father's collection. The 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day will be Dec. 7, 2001.
Q. I have a stoneware stein that is marked with the letters "RM" inside a six-pointed star. When was it made?
A. The mark was used around 1895 by Reinhold Merkelbach of Hohr Grenzhausen, Germany. The company was still making beer steins at the end of the 20th century.
Q. I found an old, light-green bottle in upstate New York several years ago. It has a long neck and is 9 inches tall. It's embossed on the side: "Florida Water, Murray & amp; Lanman, Druggists, New York." I live in Florida now and would like to learn the history of the bottle.
A. In the late 1890s, druggists in New York City and San Francisco bottled and sold mineral water they called "Florida Water." At the time, mineral water was thought to have medicinal benefits. Your bottle is worth $15 to $25.
Q. My uncle left me a large collection of advertising trade cards that are all about 100 years old. I am slowly doing research on the cards. Can you tell me anything about a soap company that used a whale in ads? The soap brand is "Soapine."
A. The Kendall Manufacturing Co. of Providence, R.I., introduced Soapine brand soap in the 1870s. According to the company's advertising trade cards, the soap could be used "for washing and cleaning everything, no matter what." The "no matter what" included the whale logo -- it shows a sailor who has just mopped a big white spot on a black whale. Kendall relied heavily on trade cards to market the new brand. The chromolithographed cards were given away by retailers.
Q. I have a printed cotton tablecloth, probably from the 1950s, that pictures a map of Florida. The major tourist attractions are indicated by buildings or people. Did they make a tablecloth for each state? I'd like to try getting a complete collection.
A. We don't know if they made one for each state. We have seen maps of California, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana, Hawaii and a few others on tablecloths. There might be other states, but their tablecloths are hard to find. This type of map tablecloth was made from the 1940s through the 1960s. Labels on the cloths show that they were made by companies like Martex, Prints Charming and Table Tempo. Most were 36- or 40-inch squares or 48 by 50 inches. Try to buy tablecloths with bright colors. Those that have been washed over and over again are often faded.
Clarification: When we wrote about Jell-O collectibles recently, we didn't have up-to-date information on corporate ownership of the brand name.
When the previous owner of the brand, General Foods, merged with Kraft after both huge food companies were purchased by Philip Morris, the Jell-O brand name changed hands. Today it is a Kraft brand name, and Kraft is owned by Philip Morris.
Tip: If your electric clock stops, turn it upside down for a day. The oil inside might flow into the gears, and the clock might start working again.
XRalph and Terry Kovel answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for its use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and addresses will not be published. They cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, they will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, The Vindicator, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

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