Some antiques are so odd, they cannot easily be identified.
Who would recognize a tomato-slice server or a poppy-seed grinder?
Even farmers might not be able to identify a wooden jig used to make hayforks.
Medical and dental tools are among the most difficult to name.
A strange-looking scarifier was used to "bleed" a patient in the days when it was thought that too much blood made you sick.
A small brass rod with a rotating curved hook on the top was used to pull teeth.
Even furniture can be a mystery.
Ever see a gout stool or a birthing chair? Or a dentist's chair that was made to be portable?
The wooden portable chair resembled an everyday folding chair. However, the legs were much longer, there were iron rods and a crank that adjusted the seat, and a small headrest was stuck up at the top. Just fold up the legs, headrest and back, and carry away a manageable rectangular package.
The rural dentist could go from town to town to take care of patients with dental problems like cavities or impacted teeth.
Because it is weird-looking and unusable today, the chair would not sell for a high price to anyone but a collector of dental antiques.
Q. My teenage daughter and her friends volunteered to raise money for a local charity. They held a garage sale and asked for donations. I pulled one of the items out of the sale because I thought it was worth more than the girls could get. It's a pottery bowl painted blue with green leaves and bright-red painted berries. Some of the berries are raised. The stamped green mark on the bottom is square with a crown and the words "Bursley Ware, England" inside. I'd like to know what it's worth so I can sell it and give the money to the charity.
A. You were smart to pull the bowl from the sale. The bowl is a piece of art pottery made by Charlotte Rhead (1885-1947) between 1920 and 1926. She worked at various Staffordshire potteries and is best-known for "tube-line" raised decorations that she made by squeezing wet clay from a small, handheld rubber bag. Bursley Ltd. was formed in 1920 to produce art wares at the Crown Pottery in Burslem, England. Today Bursley art wares sell for $100 and up. Price depends on quality, size and condition.
Q. I have a Buck Rogers 25th Century rocket pistol that I received new about 65 years ago. It's 91/2 inches long, and it still works. You cock it by moving the handle, and when you pull the trigger it makes a loud pop. It was made by Daisy Manufacturing Corp. of Plymouth, Mich. What's the story behind this pistol?
A. A comic strip featuring Buck Rogers, a science-fiction hero, was introduced in 1929. Success in newspapers led to a radio show that was broadcast from 1932 to 1947. Sponsors of the radio show offered many Buck Rogers premiums, but your pistol, introduced in 1934, was sold only in retail stores. Daisy Manufacturing Co. is better-known for its BB guns than its Buck Rogers pistols. A pistol sells today for $100 to $400, depending on condition. If you have the box and the holster, the set is worth even more.
Q. I would like to know the history and value of my 19-inch Emmett Kelly clown doll. The tag on the doll reads "Exclusive License, Baby Barry Toy, N.Y.C., Emmett Kelly, Willie the Clown." He has vinyl hands and head, rooted hair and a stuffed cloth body. He's wearing blue pants with patches, a brown jacket, a yellow checked vest and a plaid tie.
A. Baby Barry Toy Co. produced several character dolls, including Captain Kangaroo, Christopher Robin, Li'l Abner and Emmett Kelly's famous Willie the Clown. Most of these dolls date from the late 1950s. Your 19-inch clown now sells for $50 to $125, depending on condition.
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