Is Rare Book Collecting Done for Profit or for Fun?

February 14th, 2011 by

Contributed by – a membership-based service specializing in providing identification & appraisal advice on antiques & collectibles.

Rare book collecting, once the privilege of the squire with a baronial library and the staff to tidy it, is becoming the province of the literate Everyman. The signs are persistent.

Attendance at auctions is rising, the number of book dealers increasing. Membership in the Antiquarian Booksellers Association continues to grow. A few years ago, there was only one book collectors’ fair in the United States; today there are tens of major ones and many more smaller ones. If a bellwether of the widened and deepened interest were needed, one could find it in the appearance of three Gutenberg Bibles within one single year, each for sale in the $2 million price range. Normally, said John Fleming, a noted New York dealer, a Gutenberg turns up about once in a decade. Mr. Fleming called the triple surfacing “an imponderable coincidence,” but others took it as an omen – as one of the indicators pointing toward increased action at all levels of book collecting.

There is no single factor to explain this upsurge. Some say it is based on a heightened awareness of our literary and historical heritage, but dealers with longer memories say it is a natural reaction to long years of drought. After the boom years of the 1920s, capped by the spectacular 1929 sale of composer Jerome Kern’s collection, which netted almost $2 million, the Depression set in with a vengeance. Prices plummeted. Noted buyers, pressed for cash, became sellers; such buyers as there were maintained a low profile; it seemed frivolous to spend substantial amounts for books when so many needed bread. In the war years that followed, serious collecting continued to be more or less in limbo. Thus a vacuum was created, a vacuum that has filled gradually over a fifty-year period, matching the increase of popular interest in all cultural areas. En route, the overall picture of a “book collector” was found to have changed.

Collectors on the scale of J. Pierpont Morgan, Henry C. Folger, Henry E. Huntington (who spent $4.5 million with the legendary Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach – the flamboyant book dealer from the early part of this century – alone) were mainly gone. “Most of the famous American bibliophiles have died,” said H.P. Kraus, a leading New York dealer, “and few big ones have come to take their place.” Those who have taken their place are much more modest in aim, reach and resources: young people, professionals (doctors, teachers, architects). They have some money and a desire to do something with it, something special but not spectacular. There are those who argue that this is just as well, since assembling a really complete and important collection today is not feasible. For instance all the quarto editions of Romeo and Juliet are in institutions. What’s the sense in a man’s starting to collect Shakespeare when he knows in advance there’s a lot he can’t get?

People ask whether it is possible to put together a library like the Morgan. After all, there is excess and duplication in other libraries. All it takes is money and devotion. New libraries can be built. Dealer H.P. Kraus, acting as agent for the University of Texas, claims to have offered $60 million for the complete library of Dr. Martin Bodmer of Geneva, an offer apparently insufficient to the Swiss collector, because he turned it down. His library was given instead to the city of Geneva.

Collections of considerable magnitude are still being assembled – and disposed of. Knowledgeable people speak of the William H. Scheide and Robert H. Taylor collections with hushed respect. And still warm in the memory is the dispersal in 1977 of the Jonathan Goodwin collection of mainly modern first editions. That sale netted a million dollars, and in it the first books of two poets, William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound, went for 16,000 and $18,000 respectively. Interestingly, Mr. Goodwin began his collection by poking around in secondhand bookstores, where he picked up a couple of Faulkner first editions, among other works, for three and four dollars apiece.

Books can fade from fashion and prices go down as easily as they go up. Virtually every dealer can cite chapter and verse on the hazards of buying for profit. The most commonly mentioned case of the ephemeral value of a given author is that of John Galsworthy. In the 1920s an early Galsworthy could go for as high as $1,500. A 1970s catalogue offered a first edition of The Forsyte Saga for thirty-five dollars. Other of his titles could be had for as little as ten dollars. The market for some of his contemporaries who also once had great vogue is likewise down: James Branch Cabell, Joseph Hergesheimer, Christopher Morley, James Barrie.

The situation is not new, of course. At the 1929 Jerome Kern sale, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s first book The Battle of Marathon – privately published in an edition of fifty – was bought by Dr. Rosenbach for $17,500. Within a decade two copies of the same book could be had for $5,000 each. In the nineteenth century, the great library of Richard Heber, consisting of 150,000 items, was disposed of over three years and yet did not come near returning to him the £100,000 he had spent in assembling it.

The future value of many books is clouded; taste and demand fluctuate. Today Faulkner, Fitzgerald and Hemingway are very high. Among other contemporary writers, John Updike, Eudora Welty and Christopher Isherwood have a strong following. How will each rate in, say 30 years? In addition to having to be prescient about “in” writers who may wilt with time, the collector has to cope with late bloomers. It’s commonly accepted that the collection of John Quinn – an American lawyer with avant-garde taste in art and in books – was ahead of its day. Its dispersal in 1923-24 was a disaster, in terms of profit for Quinn’s heirs. It was at this sale that the indefatigable Dr. Rosenbach bought the manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses for $1,950, an incredibly low figure in terms of Joyce’s now recognized artistic importance. A measure of what the dealer had in hand can be gathered from the sale in 1972 of a published copy of the book for $8,000.

There can also be still more whimsical fluctuations: in the early 1970s a first edition of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter sold for a mere eighty-five dollars. Only a few years later, the book sold for $625. The truth seems to be that although good and “complete” collections do go up in value, and that books of genuine literary and historical importance almost have a floor to sustain their price, the real key to every great collection is personal involvement. Collectors must have, of course, a healthy interest in the value of their collections, but also the wisdom to see profit as a bonus, not an aim. Some great collections have often centered on individual figures: Wilmarth Lewis’s collection of Walpole, Donald and Mary Hyde’s Johnsonia, Edward J. Beinecke’s Stevensons, Frazer dark’s Hawthornes come to mind. It is hard to believe that they were interested in the cost of what they had put together.

And although it is true that Arthur Houghton received ten times as much for his Gutenberg as it had cost him, he sold it because his insurance company asked that he keep the book in a vault, and he saw no purpose in owning a book he could not keep around. It was also personal reasons rather than the condition of the market that spurred Jonathan Goodwin to sell his collection of moderns; it was a bonus that in some cases he received almost ten times more for an item than he had paid for it.

Personal involvement, even when dealing with modest, far from rare materials can yield superlative results. A case in point is that of Frances Steloff, for many years owner of the famous Gotham Book Mart, a literary stomping ground in New York. Miss Steloff is no critic and has said so; but for fifty years she had an almost gut reaction to the literature of her own time, some of it avant-garde. She seemed to possess an uncanny knack for collecting those writers who would appear of greater and greater importance as the years went on. She also took a serious view of motion pictures, theater and the other performing arts, especially dance. She acquired the items she chose for her collection more than reasonably – the books at list price or less and the magazines at subscription rates. When she sold the store to Andreas Brown in 1968, her cache ran to 200,000 items. And when Mr. Brown decided that the store was not the place to keep the material, he sold it to New Mexico State University for just a shade under half a million dollars – and this without the literary manuscripts and correspondence.

A similar example can be cited from the seventeenth century. Starting in 1640 George Thomason began to gather tracts, broadsides, pamphlets and every sort of document relating to the English Puritan Revolution and the establishment of the Commonwealth. He did this for twenty-one years, assembling material that was common, fugitive and, in the eyes of many, trifling. The gathering finally totaled 23,000 items and has subsequently become one of the richest resources for the study of the period. It is now in The British Library in London.

Today, areas of interest to collectors have broadened. The old, basically literary patterns – such as concentrating on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century first editions, on Shakespeare or on incunabula, as books printed before 1501 are called – have been expanded to include early books of geography and exploration, music (especially scores by the great composers) and the history of science. The Victorian period, including books in their original Victorian bindings, has become fashionable, and the classic private presses – Doves, Ashendene, Kelmscott – are holding their own.

People are continuing to collect modern first editions and modern private-press books, though some say that there are too many of each and that some are too expensive. Signing sessions at readings and at book stores have made author-autographed books common, so collectors now seek presentation copies, on the order of, say, the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog by Dylan Thomas, in which the author wrote for a friend, “Bow wow from Dylan Thomas.”

One of the more entertaining aspects of recent book collecting is that the collector can, in effect, invent his own specialty. One man collects all texts of a Greek lyric poet, in the classical Greek and in all translations. One couple concentrates on books that have been made into movies. Collecting cookbooks is becoming common, but what about the young super-specialist who goes after Swedish cookbooks, printed in France? There is no place a collector cannot start. Or, in the words of Henry James, books should be collected with “passion at the height of perception.”

CARE, CLEANING and CONSERVATION METHODS for ANTIQUE METAL WARE: Useful tips in restoring Antique Lamps, Clocks, Ormolu, Spelter, Bronze etc

February 11th, 2011 by

Contributed by – a membership-based service specializing in providing identification & appraisal advice on antiques & collectibles.

NOTE 1: Any form of cleaning or restoration of antique metal objects may necessitate the use of various chemicals, many of which are poisonous. Even if by themselves they are not, sometimes combinations of them can produce fumes that are harmful and occasionally lethal. Therefore, it cannot be emphasized too strongly that no cleaning should take place in a confined area or in close proximity to food. All of the methods described below should be performed very carefully and with every safeguard that can be made available.

NOTE 2: Not all antique Metalware items should be cleaned and no general diagnosis can be applied. Each individual object must be subjected to individual attention. Obviously what is suitable for a pair of antique brass candlesticks of the 19th century, for example, is not applicable to a considerably earlier object such as a Sheffield silverplated tray. Also, the use to which an item will be put is an important consideration; for example, is your Georgian antique Coffee or Tea Set or your pair of collectible candlesticks going to be used or are they purely for display or to be kept as cabinet pieces? If used for food or drink still more difficulties will arise. All items should be handled with extreme care until you have discovered your own abilities and the techniques that you can manage. In early stages of experimentation in cleaning and polishing you should practice on articles of no great value and, broadly speaking, the more antique an item is the less you should clean it or even handle it.

The information in this article is of a general nature: if you have a piece of antique metalwork that you value a great deal or that is of such merit that it needs extra careful handling, the advice of a museum or of a specialist expert should be sought. There are so many different blends of base metals used on antique metal ware that the cleaning methods applicable to some will do more harm than good to others. There are also certain individual pieces of metalwork, which, because of their very nature, require specialist treatment. At all times it should be aware that in cleaning an antique metal ware item, your aim should be to clean and restore an object as near as possible to its original condition.

There are, however some exceptions to this rule: one is the case of an object of some age which has acquired a permanent and pleasing patina, an antique or collectible Lamp, for example, or a medieval candlestick or bowl, which has become dark green, brown or black with age. If there is no deterioration of the metal, then this patination should under no circumstances be disturbed. A sparing application of a good quality transparent wax polish carefully removed with a silk cloth should not do any damage to a patinated object and will improve the surface.

Another example of an antique which does not benefit from the attempt to restore it to its original state is a piece of old Sheffield plate which shows signs of wear. The color of the metal showing through the silver – this is known technically as ‘bleeding’ – is to some collectors a point in its character. In any case, replating by modern electroplating will never give back the original color. The charm of antique Sheffield plate lies in the mellow color of the old silver, nowhere near as white as modern electroplating. In its own lifetime, if there were a fault or if, through heavy usage, Sheffield plate had to be repaired, this was done by French Plating. This method of restoring antique Sheffield plate uses a very fine silver foil that was laid over the worn part and made to adhere by a little gentle heat or by burnishing. French Plating is rarely used by craftsmen nowadays. Only when a piece of antique Sheffield plate has completely lost all its original plating and is reduced to an entirely copper appearance is it perhaps permissible to electroplate and then merely in order to restore it to something like its original state, especially if it were used for food.

In general, the first step in the care and conservation of an antique piece of metalwork is the removal as far as possible of whatever is causing deterioration, such as rust in the case of iron and steel, then thorough cleaning and polishing followed finally by the application of waxes or lacquers to help to delay decay.

It is impossible to arrest decay on antiques completely: all one can do is to delay it for as long as possible. As in any other form of antique a moderate even temperature is required, and it is necessary to avoid extreme cold or damp. These are in effect the main essentials of what is known in an antiques museum as ‘conservation’. What techniques and practices you use and how you tackle the work depends largely on whether the metal is brass, steel or pewter and of course the composition of the actual item.

Antique Iron and Steel

With antique iron or steel objects, which are frequently found in a rusty state, the first step must be to remove this rust. Any that is loose may be removed with a wire brush and then, if the object is fairly small, boiling in caustic soda will remove a great deal of what remains. CAUTION: Do not let this mixture come in contact with your hands or your eyes. If an accident should occur, wash any skin surface that has been exposed lots and lots of clean fresh water.

For a larger object it is necessary to soften the remaining rust by soaking the item for several hours in paraffin oil or in one of the commercial derusting oils. However, most chemical derusters tend to leave a dull matt-grey surface, which the original antique piece rarely had. They are excellent, however, for treating antiques which are going to be painted a dull black such as wrought iron lamps or railings.

Another general method is to use a fine grade of emery cloth and oil. The emery cloth may be wrapped round a shaped stick for getting into the various contours of a pattern. The oil will help to prevent too many scratches. If you use emery paper dry you will get a very scratched surface indeed. Use the mildest emery that will do the job, and when you think you are near to finishing, cut it to a yet finer one. Coarse emery should not be used except in very bad circumstances. Never clean too heavily upon a raised surface as you will tend to blunt the pattern.

Having cleaned the item to the degree you want, wash with methylated spirits, dry with clean cloth and place it, wrapped in a piece of newspaper, in some form of heated cupboard (an airing cupboard is ideal) and leave it there for two to three days to drive out any damp that may be in the metal. If you are not going to put it to practical use, at this stage seal with lacquer or wipe over with an oily rag. Some antiques collectors wax polish their ironwork: if your house is very dry this is quite a good finish. The great enemy of iron and steel is of course damp, and this will cause rust very rapidly. As in almost every other form of antique metalwork, a dry atmosphere is the most beneficial. If the atmosphere is damp and there are chemical impurities or salt in the air, you should periodically wipe the piece over with a slightly oily rag. From time to time, inspect antique iron or steel specimens for signs of rust.

Antique Wrought Ironwork

Some specimens of antique wrought ironwork may be rather large, as for example gates or window grills. Remove as much loose rust as possible with a wire brush, clean off with emery paper, seal with a derusting fluid and finally paint with a dull black paint. For a really fine piece of antique wrought iron, the treatment should be left to an expert.

Antique Cast Iron

In the case of antique cast iron objects, usually of the 19th century and which are now very collectible, there are two treatments. They can be either cleaned of all loose rust, dried and painted black, a very good treatment for any form of antique iron item, or they can be sand-blasted by a professional. This gives a sort of silvery effect. The object should then be lacquered.

Georgian or Victorian Cut-Steel

The cleaning of an antique piece in cut-steel must be approached with great care, and if possible each little facet should be cleaned separately. Please use extra care and be patient because it is important that the edges of cut-steel do not get dull. This applies to all examples of cut-steel from large objects such as Georgian andirons to small pieces such as a buckle, an antique buttonhook or a collectible corkscrew. The great glory of cut-steel is its many facetted surfaces, and these should be kept as crisp as possible.

Antique Brass and Copper

The age-old method of half a lemon and salt is excellent especially for a flat surface such as an antique tray. Apply, rinse off, dry carefully and clean with an impregnated wadding, polishing finally with a soft cloth. A piece of old silk is ideal; manmade fibers such as nylon tend to scratch the surface. Sometimes with deeply engraved or repousse decorated antiques, extensive cleaning in the past may have clogged the pattern with the remains of old dry polishes. This should be removed with a little methylated spirit and a stiff brush and then cleaned with impregnated wadding as described above. This wadding is less likely to leave traces of cleaning material behind.

Another method for an antique brass article is to wash it in a mild ammonia solution and then to clean with either oxalic acid and salt or vinegar and salt. Following this treatment, it should be washed with water, polished and lastly lacquered.

To save cleaning, and consequently to preserve antique metal ware, a modern technique much used by museums is to lacquer with a cellulose lacquer specially made for brass or copper. This should most certainly be carried out with any early or rare pieces and for pieces with fine crisp edges. The item should first be thoroughly cleaned, either as above and finished off with a succession of cloths until none is soiled, then cleaned with acetone. This should not be done in a confined space or near a flame because this liquid is very volatile. Cotton gloves should be worn to avoid fingerprints which would show under lacquer. Note: rubber gloves should not be worn as some types are destroyed by acetone. When cleaned, the piece should be lacquered with a good cellulose lacquer painted on slowly and liberally with slow easy strokes and avoiding bubbles. Do not worry too much about brushmarks since these usually disappear in the drying. If the piece has been previously varnished or lacquered, this can be removed with paint stripper, following the manufacturer’s directions, then treated as above. If the object is not handled too much, this type of lacquer will last for some years.

Antique Bronze

Antique bronze pieces, either in the form of a figurine or a really antique goblet or lamp, have normally over the years acquired an all-over patination, ranging through many shades of brown to green. If this patination is breaking up and there are spots of a brighter color, as for example bright green, action should immediately be taken to stop this because this efflorescence is the change in the surface of the metal which is known as ‘bronze disease’. It is extremely difficult for the amateur to treat and a museum or a specialist antiques restorer should be consulted at once.

As a temporary measure, if it is quite definitely active and the collector is unable to get professional help quickly, the light powder should be brushed off and the piece kept as dry as possible. To clean a normal bronze, wash it with a very mild soapy solution, dry thoroughly and then apply a little fine wax polish.

Antique Ormolu

Ormolu was frequently used for antique candelabra, antique candlesticks, on handles of andirons, antique desks and other antique furniture and small ornamental pieces in general. The gilt was applied in various ways, but with some forms of inferior ormolu, it was only a thin layer of gold lacquer painted over finely finished and polished brass. This method was frequently used by English craftsmen copying the French. Cleaning should be tackled with great care; gold at best is a very soft metal and harsh cleaning will remove it. As a first step in the cleaning of an ormolu antique piece, choose an inconspicuous area and observe the effect of cleaning on this. Use warm water to which has been added a mild solution of household ammonia and a good quality soap-based washing liquid. If no ill effects can be seen, continue with this cleaning for the complete piece. If a stronger cleaning mixture is needed, add more ammonia. Work in a current of air and wear protective gloves.

To clean ormolu mounts on antique furniture, carefully remove each from the piece of furniture, making a note of its original position. Save the pins, nails or screws that were used to fix it. It is a good idea to make sketches of mounts; the fixing pins can then be stuck through the equivalent holes. This is not just good advice: it can be very necessary as antique mounts were individually made and will not always fit into another position. Once removed, they may be dealt with as described above. If ormolu needs regilding, consult a professional Metal Plating Specialist. Modern gilding by electroplating is rather bright and produces a shade different from that of the old antique ormolu. On the other hand, the old technique of mercury-gilding (fire-gilding) is very expensive and gives off poisonous fumes. Very few craftsmen use this method, but for a superb piece it is worth trying to find a firm specializing in it. Never use a gold paint or lacquer because under no circumstances does this give the right appearance.

Antique Pewter

If you collect this interesting metal, your first and immediate problem is whether to clean your pewter bright or to leave it patinated to a dull natural sheen. Some pewter collectors prefer it in a bright state, whereas others like the quiet soft gray color. In most cases, antique pewter, if in reasonable condition, should be left as far as possible undisturbed.

If the metal has deteriorated through neglect or by being exposed to extremes of heat and cold, and obviously needs attention, it should be conserved with extreme care. Any dent or damage of that nature should be dealt with by an expert.

On the subject of cleaning antique pewter there has been an amazing variety of methods advocated over the centuries. A few of the standard cleaning techniques are based on methods used as early as the 17th century. During the period that pewter was in common use for food and drink, it was kept bright by a very mild abrasive, such as crushed eggshell, fine sand etc., was washed in soapy water, rinsed in clean water and dried. Then, if not being used at once, wiped over with an oily rag. If pewter purchased today is bright and clean and the intention is to keep it that way, clean the piece with impregnated wadding, polish with a clean cloth and olive oil or a similar oil.

If pewter is not kept polished, it gradually dulls down over the years, by a process of oxidation, to a soft gray sheen, much admired by many collectors of antiques. This patination is certainly attractive and to preserve it, the piece should be kept very slightly oiled all over with olive oil. Oil of any description seems to revive antique pewter by penetrating into the metal.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of pewter, its susceptibility to extremes of heat and cold and the consequent corrosion that can develop, this attractive metal is often purchased with bad oxidation or patches of what is known as pewter disease. This must be treated or the piece will be ruined. Great care must be exercised in this treatment both for the metal and also the person handling it, as the materials used are often poisonous or harmful to the skin.

If there is heavy corrosion (or pewter disease) one of the following methods may be of some use.

1. Add one pound of caustic soda slowly to four gallons of cold water, using an iron container. Heat the mixture slowly. Place some hessian or canvas in the bottom of the container and lay the pewter piece on it. Keep the mixture boiling for some hours, examining at intervals. If this shifts the corrosion, remove from the mixture, rinse thoroughly in warm water and clean with a fine abrasive such as crocus powder, rotten-stone or very fine emery powder and paraffin, finishing with powdered chalk or plate-powder. Lastly, oil the piece.

2. Another method, for perhaps a less corroded piece, is to wash in a strong mixture of soap and soda, then cover the whole surface with a watered-down solution of hydrochloric acid applied with a rag on a stick. The strength should be 60% water and 40% hydrochloric acid. (Warning: always add the acid to the water, never the water to the acid.) Leave on for a short while, then rinse off. Reclean with fine emery powder and oil. Wash, first in soapy then in clear water, and polish.

3. Another recipe for cleaning is: 2oz caustic soda, 2 oz lime, 6 oz common salt. Dissolve this in three quarts of warm water. When dissolved, add the mixture to two gallons of cold water. Leave the piece of pewter in this solution to soak and finally clean with fine emery powder and oil.

Also useful as a cleaning agent is oxalic acid, either used neat or watered down. Rub in with fine emery powder, rinse off and polish, then oil.

After using any of these methods of cleaning, a prolonged soaking in paraffin oil for several days will do no harm and should revive the metal.

For general cleaning, if this is necessary, the safest method is to use very fine abrasive powders such as rotten-stone or crocus powder or a very fine emery powder. Put on with an oily rag and work in a circular motion to avoid obvious signs of scratching. Grades of ‘fine’ emery paper, liberally drenched in oil, may be used for cleaning but must be used with care. Always use the finest grades and again rub in a circular motion to try and avoid scratches that show. The piece can be finally cleaned with a little white spirit or methylated spirit, dried and then oiled.

All antique pewter will remain in good condition if kept behind glass. When properly cleaned it can remain in a good display cabinet for at least a year, and this of course is the best way of preserving it. A good display of cleaned antique pewter may be seen in the American Museum in Great Britain. Pewter should never be stored in an oak display case or on oak display racks as this wood contains acid fluid, which reacts against any metal of the pewter-spelter-lead group. An open oak dresser, against which it is often seen, is less dangerous to the metal as the collector would polish both dresser and metal fairly frequently and so prevent corrosion.

Antique Lead and Zinc (Spelter)

The above remarks also apply in the main to lead. Objects in this metal that you may come across are antique tobacco-jars or small lead figurines. Zinc is also known as Spelter. Antique Zinc objects of the 19th century are frequently found and are often in a very dirty and distressed condition. It is possible that a stiff wire brush and a little oil will get these articles up to quite a high degree of polish. Wash the pieces in hot soapy water using a stiff brush; on no account use caustic or any soda. Clean with a wire brush and oil, and polish with an impregnated wadding. Finally clean with acetone or methylated spirits and, if you wish, lacquer. If you prefer not to lacquer them, some 19th-century antique pieces can be cleaned once a week with impregnated wadding without doing much harm.

Antique Tole, Pontypool, Barge Ware and Japanned Tin

Extreme care must be taken to preserve and not destroy the existing paintwork. You might find it useful to try a mixture of one-third white spirits, one-third methylated spirits and one-third linseed oil. This is a good and fairly harmless cleaning agent for antique paintwork. Apply with a cottonwool pad to a small corner of the object and see what results you get. If you are satisfied that you are not attacking the paintwork, clean the whole surface and apply a little good quality wax polish. If the piece is in definite need of paint restoration, try to find a competent professional antiques restorer who will take the job on. The restoration must never alter the feeling of the original piece and the object should not be entirely repainted. As much as possible, the original antique paintwork should be preserved. Do not attempt to paint it yourself unless you are experienced and competent, and then be careful not to overdo the restoration or the spirit of the original will be lost.

A final note: Please use extreme care when cleaning your antique metalwork, both for your own sake and also for that of the metal collection. Please always bear in mind of the varying compositions of the individual metals and the state of decay in which an individual antique item may be found. Never rush into cleaning a piece. Never hesitate to consult a museum or a specialist on any problem that may arise.

Cleaning Your Fine Cut Glass & Crystal

February 9th, 2011 by

Image: McKinley Hill Antiques

Contributed by – a membership-based service specializing in providing identification & appraisal advice on antiques & collectibles.

There is as much difference in the color of glass, meaning only transparent colorless glass or crystal, as there is in the color of diamonds. The beauty and value of antique Glass or Crystal, just like in the case of Precious Stones, are measured very largely by its perfection.

Fine antique glass should be of a purity that practically renders it invisible without any trace of yellow or green cast or opacity. Sometimes it will have a slightly bluish white color. Antique Glassware that otherwise seems clear with respect to its color when seen by itself will often appear at a decided disadvantage when placed beside a really fine piece.

Modern detergents and the use of a good bottle brush will generally suffice for removing the usual discoloration caused by the contents of decanters, cruets, perfume bottles, etc. Where cloudiness or stain persists, many remedies have been suggested and tried with varying degrees of success. Among them:

  • The use of Polident (used for cleaning false teeth)
  • Liquid Plumber (used for clearing clogged drains – highly caustic and requires careful handling)
  • Adding uncooked rice to vinegar and shaking vigorously
  • Using a tea bag with vinegar and letting it soak for 24 hours
  • Allowing chopped potato peel with a small amount of water to stand in a bottle overnight

Oiliness may be removed with alcohol left in for about 15 minutes. In each instance, the item should be thoroughly rinsed and dried afterwards. Strips of cloth may be inserted into bottles to dry them and then removed with a heavy wire or hook.

To obtain the best results, polishing was done in three stages. First, it was done with wooden wheels fed with pumice, stone and water; then brush or wool wheels with the same preparation, and lastly cork or felt wheels with finely compounded putty powder. About the turn of the century, the acid bath, quicker and less expensive came into use for polishing. It was hand-burnishing, however, that gave the superb brilliance down to the smallest detail.

Working the lather into the cuttings with a soft brush, or toothbrush will enhance the brilliance of the deeper and more intricate incisions. The glass should then be dried without draining on a soft towel. When perfectly dry, the cut surfaces should be gone over again with a clean dry brush. A soft, lint free cloth should then be used to give it a high polish.

Antique Glass which continues to cloud up after cleaning and rinsing is known as “sick glass.” It is caused by the formation and separation of crystals due to imperfect fusion of the metal or too high an alkaline content in the making. It can be professionally polished off and then “glass wax” applied if the area can be reached. Frequent applications of the wax will be helpful in delaying further deterioration. Unfortunately, this remedy is usually not practical where it is needed most – in the cleansing of bottle type containers.

The use of ammonia or strongly alkaline soaps on antique Glass or Crystal should be avoided. Extreme and sudden changes of temperature may also be harmful. Before using ice-cream platters, punch bowls, sherbet glasses or other pieces designed for frozen foods or chilled beverages, the glass should be allowed to stand for a few minutes in a cold place or held under a jet of cold water.

Cut glass with sterling silver mountings was once very popular. To this very day, many people consider the use of sterling articles with cut glass as the basis for the most elegant table settings. However, each section must be carefully cleaned using a different ‘set of rules’.  In general, in cases of antiques that are made of a mix of different materials, please be careful so as not to have certain chemicals or cleaning agents suitable for one material come in contact with other parts.

For information and useful advice on cleaning Metal items, including Antique Sterling Silver or Antique Silverplate, please see another article on under the “SILVER & JEWELRY” section.

You can also read the article, CARE, CLEANING and CONSERVATION METHODS for ANTIQUE METAL WARE: Useful tips in restoring Antique Lamps, Clocks, Ormolu, Spelter, Bronze etc, right here on the blog!  We’ll be posting this article next so be sure to come back for these useful tips!

Happy Birthday To Us!

February 3rd, 2011 by turned a year on Feb 1st 2011!  Thanks to all of our vendors for helping us to build our site into one of the best antiques sites on the web!  We’ve had more than 15oo dealers join in the fun so far, and we’re always looking for more.  We’re excited to offer over 80,000 items for sale on, but that number increases every day as more and more vendors sign up to be a part of our growing family.

To all of the people that visit looking for the perfect gift, trying to spruce up their home with a beautiful antique, or simply out of curiosity, thank you for coming!

And for everyone, vendors and antique aficionados alike, we’ve recently added a few features to our home page that we think you’ll enjoy!

- First, check out the Deal Of The Day – Each day we’ll offer a new deal from a vendor that is eager to give you a beautiful antique for a steal!

- Next, feast your eyes on the Cool Antique Of The Week – Each week we’ll show you something interesting from the site that is available to be purchased and fawned over by it’s new owner!

- And finally, have some fun with What Is This Antique? – Each week we’ll choose a new and interesting, if not a bit obscure, antique to feature for this game.  Take a guess, or several guesses, at what you think it is, and then each Monday we’ll publish the list of guesses submitted by everyone, along with the actual name and description of the antique. strives to offer a wide variety of beautiful and interesting antiques, collectibles, and fine art pieces.  We’re looking forward to another stellar year where we add to our already impressive list of vendors and push our inventory to over 100,000 items!  So Happy Birthday To Us!  We’re looking forward to another fantastic year!

Collecting With Jeff – October News Letter – by Jeff Figler

November 3rd, 2010 by

The Hunt for Sonny Randle

On my list of favorite football athletes are several players from St. Louis and San Diego, cities in which I have lived for many years. Of course there is Dan Fouts, LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, Sonny Randle, and a few others on that list. That’s right, Sonny Randle.

After browsing through some recent clippings about Randle, I attempted to get some old cards of his. Well, after contacting a half dozen or so dealers, I finally ran across Touchdown Treasures, owned and operated by Michael Hattley. My Sonny Randle card hunt was over, at least temporarily. Hattley sent me an inventory list of the St. Louis Cardinals (football) items he has. It looked like a small town telephone directory. And that was only of one team.
Talk about someone with passion about what he does. Hattley, a former financial guy, was an avid collector himself, and decided to make his avocation a vocation, by starting Touchdown Treasures some twenty-four years ago. The company specializes only in football memorabilia. Through the years, merchandise of the Packers, Giants, and Steelers have been requested the most. Although Touchdown Treasures is based in Greenwich, Connecticut, Hattley’s favorite team is the Miami Dolphins. Why?

Mike said that the most unusual piece he has ever sold was a 1977 Topps NFL Mexican set. There were only twenty sets sold. Wow! Makes you wonder if Chad Ochocinco has a set. The cards were all in Spanish. I would have a tough time with that one.

Michael Hattley is an optimist, even in this economy. Yes, the market is down, but vintage or unique items will hold their own.

If you have a football item “wish list”, you might want to contact Hattley. After all, he has an inventory of 39,531 football related items. That was the total a few days ago, maybe it is more by now. I bet he even has some Sonny Randle items. On second thought, I hope not. He is supposed to be selling all those to me.

Hattley can be reached at (203) 532-9214, or at Touchdown Treasures conducts both auctions and sales.

In Collectibles Market, Manning is no Brady

Recently on one of my radio broadcasts, I got into a lively discussion about which one NFL player I would start a team with. It is my humble opinion that I would start with a quarterback, while others in the discussion chose other positions. Names of players were thrown out, including Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, and even Ed Reed. Yes, that’s right, Ed Reed. He is a terrific player, but I don’t think you can pick a defensive player to be your cornerstone man. I can see picking a running back, but I still think a quarterback comes first.

So who would I pick? If I was doing the honors today, it would be Peyton Manning. If you ask me next year I might say Peterson or even Philip Rivers, the incredible quarterback of the Chargers. You watch, Rivers has what it takes, and if he can win a Super Bowl or two, and San Diego is capable of doing so, Rivers will be at the head of the quarterback class.

But for now, give me Peyton Manning. This 2009 season may very well be his best, especially if you consider the fact that he is without his main man, Marvin Harrison. Joseph Addai should not be mistaken for Edgerin James either. The Colts simply replace parts as necessary. Do I think that Manning will lead the Colts to another Super Bowl victory this season? Hardly. I don’t think the Colts will even make it out of the AFC Championship game. That’s right. And now I’ll probably be flooded with emails about how my thinking is distorted.

Funny thing about Manning and the 1998 draft. The two top college quarterbacks in that draft were Manning of Tennessee, and Ryan Leaf of Washington State. Both the Colts and Chargers desperately needed quarterbacks, and Indianapolis had the first selection, and the Chargers the third. San Diego gave up the kitchen sink to Arizona to move up one spot. The rest is history. The course of the NFL was changed. Manning became, well, Manning, and Ryan Leaf became, uh, let’ just say, one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

However, let it be remembered that in Manning’s first season the Indianapolis Colts were a dismal 3-13.

Despite Peyton Manning’s achievements on and off the gridiron, his collectibles have not gone spectacular. Why he hasn’t been as big of a box office star with collectibles as, for example, a Tom Brady, or a Joe Montana, is likely due to the fact that for a long time he did not have any Super Bowl rings. Now he has one, as the Manning-led Colts defeated the Chicago Bears a few years ago. The fact, too, that he plays in a relatively small Midwestern market does not help. Put him in a New York or a Chicago and the scenario would undoubtedly be different.

For the record, in a 2008 auction, his 2000 game-used helmet went for just shy of $5000. His 2004 game-worn signed shoes fetched slightly over $4000 in a 2007 auction. His jerseys usually bring in upwards of a few thousand dollars, depending, of course, if they are signed.

The Colts have flourished with Peyton Manning at the helm. At age 33, opposing defenses are going to have to put up with him and his gyrations at the line of scrimmage for at least a handful of more years.

Collecting With Jeff – September News Letter – by Jeff Figler

September 28th, 2010 by

Early bobbleheads hold some value

Bobbleheads are among the most popular current collectibles. Bobblehead dolls are also called bobbinghead dolls, or even nodders. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the word “nodders”, but that is only my opinion.

What I do know is that the dolls, call them whatever you like, are very collectible, and some have become quite valuable. They are popular because they are colorful, lightweight, and affordable (if not free). Many professional sports teams have used them successfully as promotional items. And it really doesn’t even matter who the doll is of. I remember going to a game in Arizona, and they had a bobblehead doll giveaway of a player who wasn’t even on the team any longer. Go figure. I guess that when you go to the expense of making ten or twenty thousand dolls, then you had better at least give them away. Most youngsters would not even care who the doll was of.

However, recently I was sent an email from someone who had accumulated a few promotional dolls from stadium events, and he wanted to know if they were worth much. Unfortunately, no. The dolls that are worth the most are the ones that are from the early days, let’s say from the early 1960s to the late 70s. The two most valuable player dolls are of Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays. In good condition, which is often a problem, these dolls can go for as much as $2000.

Why I would have passed on the ARod ball

You may have read that the ball that Alex Rodriguez hit for his 500th career home run was recently auctioned by SCP Auctions.

The high bid for the ball was $103,579 including a 20% buyer’s premium. Pretty good price I would say, but knowing SCP Auctions president, David Kohler, I am sure he thought it could have gone for more. I would have said the same thing. Kohler is one of the true professionals in the industry, and has a huge collection of Lakers (Minneapolis and Los Angeles) memorabilia. I have to admit that I never have been a huge Laker fan, but some marvelous players have worn Laker uniforms. But don’t try to sell me a James Worthy or Gail Goodrich jersey.
I applaud the winning bidder of the Rodriguez ball, but if it were me, I would have saved my money and in a couple of years go after the A-Rod homerun ball that passes Barry Bonds’ career home run total. It is inevitable that the record will be broken. Bonds “retired” with 762 homers, and A-Rod now has 583. Rodriguez is 34 years old, and will probably need four or five years to reach Bond’s mark, if he stays healthy. Staying healthy is always key, but the Commissioner’s office will jump for joy when Rodriguez passes Bonds, probably in 2014. That ball would be worth going after, and might fetch over a million dollars, maybe even a couple of million.

But you know what? There happens to be another ballplayer who has 366 career homeruns and is only 30 years old. Hmm. Try Albert Pujols. However, Rodriguez may have too far of a lead already for Pujols to catch him. Should prove interesting.

Trivia Questions

1.  Which former tennis great had a brother who pitched for the San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays?

2.  What is the record for the most runs scored in an inning in MLB game since 1900 by one team?

3.   Who is the only college football player to have won the Heisman Trophy twice?

4.  What is the NFL record for the most consecutive road games won?

5.  Who were the five original members of the Baseball Hall of Fame?

6.  Who holds the NBA record for most rebounds in a game?

7.  Which NFL team holds the record for the most two point conversions in an NFL game?

8.  Who was the first NFL quarterback to throw more than 4000 yards in three consecutive seasons?

9.  Who holds the modern American League record for wins in a season?

10. John Wooden has won the most NCAA college basketball tournament national championships.  Who is second?

Collector Books to Close After 40 Years

September 14th, 2010 by

After 40 years of supplying invaluable information for the antiques and collectibles market, Collector Books is closing its doors. With the release of its last 14 titles this fall, Collector Books will cease publication, though it will stay open through 2011 to sell out its remaining inventory of over 235,000 books.

Collector Books, a division of Schroeder Publishing, began in 1969 when Bill Schroeder saw a need and filled it. This simple want ad, “We buy & sell old fruit jars. Send $1.00 for complete list. Refundable on first transaction. Schroeder’s, Rt. 4, Paducah, KY.”, didn’t generate many sales, but it drew dozens of inquiries from owners interested in information about their jars. Bill compiled a booklet called “1000 Fruit Jars with Current Values” and by 1974 had quit his day job so he could devote all his time to Collector Books.

While Collector Books has published over 1500 different titles on antiques and collectibles, it is their price guide that set an industry standard. Published annually since 1982, Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide had been the ‘blue book’ of the antiques and collectibles market for almost 30 years. But the current wealth of information available for free on the internet, coupled with the technology to access it immediately even from the most remote locations, has made such price guides obsolete.

Collectors no longer have to cart around a milk crate full of books when they go hunting. All they need is a cell phone web browser. The ‘information super highway’ has made it possible to access price information instantaneously. And gone, too, is the thrill of the hunt. Where collectors once had to search high and low for rare items, the internet has brought them right into the palm of their hands, causing an overall drop in antiques prices as well.

And so, the 29th edition of Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide will be the last, and as Bill Schroeder has said, it’s the end of an era.

Telling his employees that the company would be closing wasn’t easy. “I’ve been in just about every facet of the business since I was thirteen,” said Schroeder. “It’s one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make and it’s emotional”, he said in an interview with WPSD, the local news station. “We’ve tried every avenue we could. Forty years. That’s a long time.”

Collector Books employs about 50 people. Although 8 have already been laid off, Schroeder has said that most will be transferred to Schroeder Publishing’s other division, the American Quilter’s Society. (Bill & Meredith founded the American Quilters Society in 1984, and built what is now called the National Quilt Museum in 1991.) The company will continue to publish quilting guides as well as their two magazines, “American Quilter” and “Quilt Life”.

“The Glass Cupboard” for

Antique Typewriters

August 26th, 2010 by

As a writer and a lover of quirky old machinery, there are few collectible antiques more fascinating to me than typewriters. I even love the word “typewriter,” with its punched-out mechanical consonants and its utter obsolescence. My love affair began when my grandparents bequeathed their old machines to me, assuming I could find some use for them in my line of work. I don’t actually use any of my typewriters, but I do gaze at them, and I do carry them (all 130 fragile pounds of them—my Royal weighs more than my dog) from one house to another every time I move.

Over the years I’ve been asked many questions about typewriters, specifically about the value of old machines that arrived in the questioner’s life the same way mine did. It seems as if every day a dusty Remington or Smith Brothers machine is unearthed in a basement and handed over to the nearest writer in the family. I have good news and bad news about this. But first, a little history.

A Short History of the Typewriting Machine, With Anatomy Lesson.

There are two forms of what we call the “typewriter”: The index and the keyboard. The index is a primitive little device that looks like a wheel mounted on a board. It appeared at the end of the 1800’s but was quickly made obsolete by the keyboard, which is somewhat more recognizable. The first successful keyboard typewriter was designed and sold in 1873 by Sholes and Glidden.

The next century brought us two versions of keyboard machine:

The Typebar: In this version, a pressed letter key swings a bar with a molded typeface toward a waiting paper surface. The typeface is either inked by a rollbar, or it collides with an inked ribbon that lies between itself and the paper. Most machines made between 1874 and 1960, despite their fantastic variety, operate by some version of this method.

The Single Element: In this version, all type exists on a drum or ball element and when a key is pressed, the whole element swings around to present the desired type to the paper. This version was popularized in 1960 by the IBM Selectic. Its arrival heralded (to my way of thinking) the end of the typewriter’s golden age.

The strangest and most beautiful typewriter models are the earliest, the ones introduced between 1874 and 1915. These are known as “unconventional”.

In 1895, Underwood designed the first “conventional” model: Four rows of keys, a single shift, ribbon inking, and a front strike type bar. After 1895, conventional models became the norm, and by the 1930s almost all typewriter models looked more or less the same.

Between 1874 (the beginning) and 1960 (the end), typewriters had a fantastic run. Especially during the early years, they symbolized all of the reckless innovative exuberance of the industrial revolution, standing on a perfect overlay between business efficiency and mechanical whimsy.

Collectible Typewriters

Despite their beauty, typewriters have some quirks that set them apart from other memorabilia and collectibles.  For one thing, nobody throws typewriters away. So of the millions of Royal and Smith Corona machines produced in the earlier half of the century, most are still in circulation and are surprisingly well cared for. So they are not rare, not usually.


  • The world of typewriter collecting is like the wild west right now. There are no catalogue values or price guides as there are with collectable dolls or collectable baseball cards. The value of each machine lies only in the opinion of the buyer and seller. The wild frontiers of antiques collecting are always tamed eventually– In this case, nobody is sure why it’s taking so long.
  • This doesn’t apply to typewriters made before 1915. If you own any of these beautiful typewriters, your model is rare and it is certainly valuable, depending on whom you ask:
    • American Visible, 1893
    • Chicago, 1898
    • Corona, 1912
    • New Model Crandall, 1881
    • Ford, 1895
    • Junior, 1907
  • This is also true of the following collectible Royals:
    • The No 5 Flatbed
    • The No 1 Flatbed
    • The No 10 with beveled glass windows on the sides.

By Erin Sweeney


Collecting with Jeff – July Newsletter – By Jeff Figler

July 28th, 2010 by

The following articles Jeff wrote recently for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Arguably, a ticket to the Masters Tournament has the reputation of being the hardest ticket to get in all of sports. From my golfing aficionado friend Jerry Rockwell, a ticket is not as difficult as it has been, but it is still mighty tough. You can get a ticket if you are a patron, have connections, or, oh my gosh, have the money. Rockwell should know. A former touring pro on the Grapefruit Tour, now called The Nationwide Tour, he has been to virtually every Masters since 2005. He also holds the dubious distinction of trying to teach me how to play golf, but he failed miserably. I don’t know why, but golfing and me are simply incompatible.  Despite that, I am a golf fan, and of the Masters in particular.

Besides tickets to the Masters being difficult to procure, and relatively pricey, memorabilia also can be a bit costly as well. Try these auction results. A 2005 Arnold Palmer-signed Masters Tournament Flag went for $353, a 1974 Masters Badge for $250, and a 1975 Spectator Guide Program for $125. In addition, a 1997 Gene Sarazen button sold for $895 in a 2008 auction, while a 1998 menu signed by Tiger Woods brought in $2932.

However, one of the most unique auction items has been the 1997 Tiger Woods Masters Tournament-used golf bag. You are probably wondering how much that went for. Well, first keep in mind that 1997 was the first year that Tiger Woods won the Masters. Okay, how about $89,625. And the bag was not even signed. I don’t know who owns it, but I know I don’t. That is not your typical item. An item that is a little less expensive is a Woods-signed Masters flag. It went for $1248. A little more like it.

I wouldn’t mind adding a ticket to the Masters to my collection. Does anyone have an extra one?


One of the true annual highlights for many sports collectors is the National Sports Collectors Convention. This year the Convention will be held, for the first time, in Baltimore, from August 4-8, 2010.

As the Convention is on the East Coast, that may defer some collectors from coming if they are from too far away. But it is good to move the venue around.

The Convention is a great opportunity to see if any of your “wish list” items are available. It is also the perfect place to see old friends in the industry.

If you haven’t been to a National before you will see booths of large and small vendors from across the country. Do yourself a favor, and have a list of what you are specifically looking for. If you don’t, and if you don’t have a budget, trust me, you can easily be overwhelmed. A few years ago I had a “wish list” of four items, and wouldn’t you know it, I found three of them at the Convention. The other one took a couple more years to get.

At this National also there will be approximately 60-70 Hall of Famers and other stars from the major sports there to sign autographs. A few of this year’s signing stars include Cal Ripken, Jr., Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Tom Seaver, Bart Starr, and Joe Montana.

What started out in 1980, when a group of collectors got together in a small hotel ballroom at the Los Angeles International Airport Marriott, for what became the first National Sports Collectors Convention, has now become a full-fledged major convention.

And if you do go, try to come one of the early days in the Convention. If you wait too long, some of the vendors may be gone, as well as some of the items that you specifically wanted.

See you in Baltimore.

Antique Toys: A Basic Field Guide to Three Rare Species of Antique Teddy Bear

July 20th, 2010 by

When Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that had been pursed to exhaustion and tied to a tree, he inspired Morris Michtom, a candy store owner, to design and sell a stuffed bear in his honor. This happened in 1902, and the Michtom bear with its jointed arms and legs would become the grand ancestor of one of the most popular and iconic toys in America. A century later, of course, it would also become a sought-after item among collectors of antique toys. But the Michtom bear shares this distinction with another bear, the Steiff bear, a toy designed and launched independently by German toymaker Richard Steiff at approximately the same time. Steiff was allegedly inspired by the sight of bears performing in a circus and wanted to create a toy that was jointed, soft, and somewhat human-shaped, part toy bear and part doll.

As all bear collectors—arctophiles—know, both Michtom and Steiff bears were a huge success. And since their popularity began to surge in 1904, any bear created before that year is considered one of the very first teddy bears in America, a rare and valuable find in the world of antique toys.

A wide diversity in teddy bear styles and features began to proliferate in 1906, and during the century that followed, many famous bear manufacturers rose and fell on the same waves that shaped American and European history. German bears, for example, experienced a reduced distribution to America during World War I. Only one German bear maker, Bing, managed to continue production during the war. This allowed British and American toymakers a new foothold in the teddy bear market, and when a certain British bear created by J. K. Farnell and Co inspired A. A. Milne to write the immortal Winnie-the-Pooh books in 1926, their ensuing popularity led Farnell bears to take their place beside Steiff and Bing bears as one of the most collectable antique toys of the present era.

So what sets Steiff, Bing, and Farnell Bears apart from other bears and from one another? As far as early Bing and Steiff bears are concerned, not much. In fact, Bing fought legally with Steiff over many early similarities between the two bears, including the famous button-in-ear feature. Early Bing bears had a metal plate attached to the ear with the letters GBN imprinted in a triangle. But after Steiff’s legal challenges, this identifier was called a “mark”, no longer a “button”, and it was moved under the left arm.

Both early Steiff and Bing bears had boot button eyes, usually black. Early Farnell bears had button eyes too, but later Farnell versions were distinguished by eyes made of amber colored glass. All three companies made their first bears with long, curved arms, spoon-shaped paws, and seams running up the front of the bear rather than the back. They also made their bears out of mohair and gave them features meant to resemble real bears, such as humped backs and longish, realistic-looking noses. Farnell bears often had stitched “claws” on the backs of their paws.

Among antique toys, Farnell, Steiff and Bing teddy bears are considered relatively safe items to collect since they are difficult to counterfeit. But always check the tags on your antique bear and keep an eye out for certain features like real mohair (not synthetic), velvet paw pads (rather than cotton), hand stitching, and wooden rather than metal or plastic joints. Also keep an eye out for “wood wool” stuffing, a kind of soft wood shaving. Even when the era of wool stuffing began in the 1920’s, Steiff, Bing, and Farnell were still using wood wool to stuff their bears’ heads.

Is your Steiff, Farnell or Bing bear valuable? As with all antique toys, the answer depends on the prevailing market and the condition of the bear. But recent buying guides have placed a Steiff jointed bear with a blank ear button, circa 1905, at about $1,225. Farnell and Bing mohair bears made before 1917 may be offered at similar prices. If you own a bear made during this period, or any plush antique toy, keep it safe. If you need to clean it, do so gently with a damp cloth. Better, have it cleaned by a professional. It’s easy enough to explain the popularity of the teddy bear—teddy bears are huggable! But this also makes them rare and valuable among antique toys, because they don’t tend to last long.

- Erin Sweeney