KOVEL; The origin, the use of certain objects of yesteryear remain a mystery | Community

Sometimes inventions have changed the way we do work. They render a certain tool or decoration useless and its previous use is forgotten.

A 5-inch-tall bisque vase in the shape of a man in political uniform was one such mystery at a recent auction. It could hold small flowers for a very short time, because the small opening would only hold enough water for the flowers for a day.

We’ve seen similar little characters identified as match holders, but it could just be a “whim” (a fancy number, maybe even a joke). We were sure he was old, and we thought the character was a caricature of a famous English politician. The style of the pants, short shirt, yellow epaulettes, curly hairstyle and flat hat seemed appropriate. Regardless of its use, it was attractive and, with eight bids, it sold for $ 59 at the Conestoga auction in Pennsylvania. The value will increase if the human can be identified.

Question: What is a 100-year-old Hohner Professional chromatic octave harmonica worth? It’s in a red case with “Made in Germany” printed on it.

A: The first harmonicas were handcrafted in the 1820s. Matthias Hohner, a watchmaker from Trossingen, Germany, used machines to mass produce harmonicas. He founded his company in 1857. The company is best known for its harmonicas and accordions, but it also manufactures other musical instruments. In 1930, it was the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the world.

Hohner began making chromatic harmonicas in 1912. Pressing the button on the side of the harmonica changes the notes by a semitone, allowing a chromatic scale to be played. Hohner joined KHS, a Taiwanese musical instrument company, in 1987. It is still in business. Hohner has made over a billion harmonicas. Most aren’t worth much less than $ 50 because they’re so common.

If the harmonica is a model sought after by collectors or has something unusual about it, it is in perfect condition and has the original box, it could cost more. It is not possible to estimate the value without seeing it. Take it to a music store in your area and see if someone can give you some idea of ​​the value.

Question: I have two Jasper curio cabinets. I bought them in the 1960s from Harlem Furniture Co. in Dayton, Ohio. I was hoping you could help me find some new keys for the cabinet doors! Thank you.

A: Jasper Cabinet Furniture was based in Jasper, Indiana from the turn of the 20th century. The company produced secretaries, china cabinets, cabinets of curiosities, chests of drawers and other furniture. If collectors of antique furniture – or those who inherit old cabinets of curiosities or chests – are lucky, their pieces will be delivered with its original key. Before you get upset if you don’t see a key, check to see if it’s taped to a drawer or on the back panel. If the key cannot be found, your first step would be to remove the lock and take it to an antique store, hardware store, or locksmith. Be sure to call ahead to make sure the store has a collection of old binary keys, often referred to as skeleton keys. If you’re lucky, the store will have a key that slips through the keyhole and initiates the lock. Otherwise, a locksmith may search for a blank key that is a perfect fit. Antique master keys can usually open any lock on a home, most commonly in Sears Craftsman and Victorian homes, as well as any home that is nearly a century or older. These ancient skeleton keys are also known as “bit and barrel” keys.

Question: I have a collection of Dragonware porcelain that has been made by different companies. Some pieces are finer porcelain than others. My dad started me on this collection 40 years ago, and I haven’t been able to find out much about it. I would like to pass it on to my son, but I would like to be able to tell him more about this collection.

A: Dragonware, pottery decorated with dragons in relief, has been made since the late 1800s. Relief decoration, called “moriage”, is made by mixing white clay to the consistency of toothpaste and dragging it around. a thin line. The moriage is still in progress. You can determine the age of your Dragonware by looking at the marks. Porcelain imported to the United States after 1891 had to be marked with the country of origin. Pieces marked “Nippon” were manufactured from 1891 to 1921; those marked “Made in Occupied Japan” were manufactured from 1945 to 1952. Parts marked “Japan” were manufactured from 1921 to 1945 and again from 1952 to the present day. Some parts of Dragonware auction for a few hundred dollars and some online for less than $ 5.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers’ questions sent to the column. Send a letter with a question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a close-up of any marks or damage. Make sure your name and return address are included. By submitting a question you are giving full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, The Daily Times, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at [email protected]

About Catherine Sturm

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