Gardening was an important pastime in America in the late 19th century.
By the middle of the century, there was interest in growing exotic fruits and plants, and several thousand varieties were available from growers who printed pamphlets and catalogs.
Lawn mowers and other tools came into use in the 1850s. Garden furniture, fountains, statues and birdhouses were added to the yard.
By the 1890s, most gardeners owned special shovels, digging forks, shears, watering cans, wheelbarrows and sprinklers.
New varieties of plants were brought back from trips abroad. The bleeding-heart flower was introduced from China in 1851, and it was soon pictured on dishes and rugs and in books. Similarly, some old but popular plants like the moss rose, first described in 1760, were pictured on dinner sets.
Collectors today want anything that can be displayed in a garden or that was used for gardening.
Trowels and all sorts of small tools more than 25 years old, which can still be found at garage sales, are now collectible.
Some people even collect "heritage plants," varieties that have gone out of fashion but now appeal to a 21st-century gardener.
Q. I inherited an oak cradle from my father's family. It is smaller than a modern crib. It has straight slats on the sides and solid head- and footboards. It rocks on a platform, but can be locked in place. I think the mattress is original. The stuffing is straw or horsehair. The bottom of the cradle reads "Betts Street Furniture Company, Berens, Ringeman & amp; Co., Props., Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 26, 1875 & amp; Feb. 26, 1878." What is the cradle worth?
A. Betts Street Furniture Co. was founded in Cincinnati by Herman Theodore Kemper, who immigrated from Germany in the late 1850s. The dates on your platform cradle are probably patent dates relating to the rocking mechanism. They make it clear that your cradle was not manufactured before 1878. This was an era when all types of rocking furniture were patented. Children's needs became a high priority in Victorian homes. Platform cradles like yours should sell for $100 and up. Never use it for a baby unless you check the sizes of the openings between the slats to make sure a baby's head can't fit through them. Always make sure that the mattress fits tightly around the edges. You should use a new, clean mattress, but save the old one.
Q. My Philadelphia relatives gave me their antique table lamp. The base is metal and embossed with decorations. The shade is slag glass under a pierced metal floral-and-swag overlay. The lamp is not Tiffany. It's marked "Royal Art Glass Co." under the base. Is it valuable?
A. During the first quarter of the 20th century, several American companies manufactured art-glass lamps. Royal Art Glass Co. lamps were made in New York City between about 1910 and 1925. A Royal lamp sells for about $300 to $700.
Q. I would like to know if my small pitcher has any value. It's six inches tall and has a round body and a narrow neck and base. A colorful art nouveau decoration is painted all over it. The word "Volendam" is signed on the side, and the bottom is marked "Favorite, Koninklijk Goedewaagen, Gouda, Holland."
A. You have a piece of Gouda pottery. Collectors use that term for art pottery made in and around Gouda, Holland, since about 1898. "Favorite" is probably a pattern name. Koninklijk Goedewaagen is the factory where your pitcher was made, probably in the 1950s or '60s. Volendam is a city in Holland. Many pieces of Gouda feature art nouveau or art deco designs. Your pitcher could sell for up to $200 if it's in excellent condition.
Q. My grandmother left me her Bye-Lo Baby doll. The doll has a bisque head, cloth body and original clothing. Her brown eyes open and close. She is 17 inches long, and on the back of the neck is the mark "Copr. by Grace S. Putnam, Made in Germany." The doll is in excellent condition. What is she worth?
A. Bye-Lo Baby was designed by Californian Grace Storey Putnam right after World War I. Putnam spent a few years trying to find a manufacturer before she took her design to the famous New York importer Geo. Borgfeldt & amp; Co. The doll was designed to represent a 3-day-old baby. It was an immediate hit. Bye-Lo Babies were manufactured from about 1923 until the early 1950s. The dolls were made of various materials throughout the years. Your doll, with a bisque head and cloth body, is an early one. The cloth bodies were made by K & amp;K Toys of New York, a Borgfeldt subsidiary. The bisque heads were manufactured by various German dollmakers. Your doll should sell for more than $700. If her gown has the original tag, the price will be higher.
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