In the 1950s, the "early American" look was popular for small homes across the country. New houses were built with a kitchen with a breakfast nook or a pass-through to a breakfast room. The long walk to a formal dining room was saved for special occasions. Knotty pine cabinets and Hitchcock-type chairs were used with a plain, wooden rectangular table. Or, if there was room, the choice was a round Lazy Susan table. The center of this type of table had a raised, round shelf that turned. No more passing dishes of food; just spin the revolving shelf. This table was not a new idea. Many were made by rural furniture makers in Pennsylvania from about 1840 to 1880. Contemporary versions of the Lazy Susan table and small Lazy Susan spinning shelves that can be used on a tabletop are found in stores today.
Q. When she was a child, my mother was given a cast-iron toy kitchen stove. It is nickel-plated and has the word "Prize" embossed on the oven door. The stove is 12 inches high, 9 inches wide and 6 inches deep. It has six burners, a reservoir, a working grate door on one side, an ash shaker and a chimney back with two teapot shelves. I have the tiny pots and pans that came with it and the original box, but the finish on the stove has darkened some. Do you have any idea who made it and when, and what it's worth today?
A. Your mother's toy stove was offered for sale in the 1903 Montgomery Ward catalog. It was probably manufactured by the J. & amp;E. Stevens Co., founded in Cromwell, Conn., in 1843. Owned by brothers John and Elisa Stevens, the company became famous for its cast-iron toys, particularly its mechanical banks. A Prize toy stove like yours, with no box or accessories but possibly in better condition, auctioned in 2002 for $550.
Q. Can you give me information about my antique dental cabinet? I bought it more than 50 years ago. It has 16 drawers of various sizes, two doors and two mirrors (one on the top and one on the front of a drawer). Four of the drawers have grooves for the instruments. Inside one drawer I found a mark that I can't completely read: "Made by the Ran? and Randolph Co. Mfg. U.S.A."
A. Your dental cabinet was made by Ransom and Randolph, which was founded in 1872 and is still in business. Since 1964, it has been a division of Dentsply, formerly the Dentists' Supply Co. of New York. Ransom and Randolph is headquartered in Maumee, Ohio. The company started out as a manufacturer of instruments, furniture and other supplies for dentists, doctors and barbers. Its dental cabinets show up at auctions and sales and, depending on condition, sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Q. I have had a Mary Marvel wristwatch since I was a kid. The band deteriorated, but I have the original box. What is the watch worth?
A. Mary Marvel was a comic character spun off in 1940 from Fawcett Publications' very successful Captain Marvel series. Your watch dates from 1948. If it's in excellent and working condition and the box is in good shape, even without the band it would sell for more than $500.
Q. My lithographed tin bank is an oval cylinder, 3 inches high, 41/4 inches long and 13/4 inches wide, with a coin slot on the top. The color picture around the body shows a squirrel gathering nuts, a bug with a butterfly net and an owl sitting on a tree branch guarding a knothole in a tree trunk. Under the owl a sign says "Receiving Teller." On the tree there's another sign, "Security Storage and Trust for Squirrels & amp; Chipmunks." And on the spotted yellow top near the coin slot is the rhyme: "If you get and spend a penny, then of course you haven't any. Be like me, a Happy Jack, and put it where you'll get it back." What can you tell me?
A. Your bank was manufactured by Tindeco, the Tin Decorating Co. of Baltimore. Tindeco was a huge enterprise founded in 1914. Every day it produced millions of tobacco tins, candy boxes, cookie and cake tins, pill tins, talcum-powder cans, toys and banks. Happy Jack Squirrel was a character from the children's stories of Thornton W. Burgess (1874-1965), an author and naturalist from Sandwich, Mass. Burgess' stories were illustrated by his friend, artist Harrison Cady. By the 1920s, Tindeco was making lithographed tins decorated with the artwork of famous illustrators, including Cady. Tindeco was sold to the Illinois Glass Co. in 1935, so your bank was made between about 1920 and 1935. It sells today for $40 or so if it's in excellent condition.
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