Genevieve’s Antique Trivia

Did you ever wonder how old that piece of silver is or who made that ceramic vase? Maybe this link will get your search started in the right direction. We will try to post a new piece of trivia concerning anitques, vintage, and collectibles every day or so. If there is an antique fact you would like to see or you find a mistake we would love to hear from you. This post is not intended to give appraisals but merely to be a general source of tips and tricks, names, dates, and places in the antique and collectible world.

Do you have an antique dresser or trunk with that old musty smell?

Try this.
Wash the inside with a damp rag of diluted bleach. Make sure you are in a well ventillated area and you are wearing gloves.
The next time you mow the lawn, put some of the fresh grass clippings into an old nylon stocking and place them in the dresser drawer or trunk for about 24 hours.
Another method we read about but haven’t tried is to use a container with holes in the lid filled with vinegar.

Help, I chipped my grandmother’s antique glass cup, plate, etc.!

This one is for using chipped items not cracked and not for resale value.
It doesn’t matter if it is an old bowl, plate, cup, or whatever; if it has a small chip and you are afraid to use it incase someone might get cut don’t throw it out. It can be made usable again.
The FIRST rule here is to be VERY CAREFUL. Chips no matter how small can cut you.
Go to the local hardware store and ask for Emory cloth. It is very fine sandpaper. 300 grit will do.
Tear off a strip about 1-1/2 inches wide and a couple of inches long.
Wrap the Emory cloth around a pencil or similar hard item. It doesn’t matter what as long as it is not your finger and it is of a size that you can control. DO NOT use your finger. The glass can cut through the Emory cloth and your finger will bleed.
Now just rub the Emory cloth back and forth on the chip. As the glass starts to smooth out begin using a circular motion until the chip is smooth. This will make your glass item usable again. However, it will have a haze or fog look wherever you rubbed the Emory cloth. These are very small scratches that the Emory cloth put in the glass. If you are a very determined and patient person, you can follow up with finer Emory cloth, 600 and 1000 grit and this creates smaller and smaller scratches so they won’t be as noticeable.

Removing tape and labels from paper collectibles.

Did you ever pass on a really great piece of ephemera at a yard sale because the owner had used masking tape to put the price on it?

Certainly the tape is reason to negotiate a lower price but that old magazine, etc. may still be salvageable. When you get it home use a hair dryer to warm the tape and then slowly start working at peeling the tape back as you continue to heat it. Remember to be patient and work it slowly.

We have ordered a new product that is safe both for the paper and for people. When it comes in we have some old magazines we will try removing the label and let you know how it works.

Do you have stains in your vintage glass vase or old enamel cookware?

Try this first. It is quick and easy and doesn’t cost very much.
Fill the glass vase or enamel pot or pan with warm water.
Drop in one or two denture tablets, depending on the size of the vase/pot.
Wait until the fizzing has stopped then wash with mild soap and rinse.
Voila, the stains are gone. This is the first thing we try and it works about 90% of the time.

Cleaning Vintage Copper or Brass Jewelry

Green-colored corrosion is sometimes found on old jewelry. It will spread if not removed. Clean with a mixture of a tablespoon of vinegar, a tablespoon of salt, and a cup of hot water. Scrub with an old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly in clean, hot water. Dry completely with towels and a hair dryer set on cool. WARNING: Hot water can soften glue used to hold stones or gems. This method is for copper or brass jewelry only.

The value of memories.

With these tough economic times we are seeing a lot of people selling of family heirlooms. We would like to take today’s post and talk about it. There are pieces, which invoke a mental image of the family member it came from. Maybe it’s a chair that you sat in as a kid or a kitchen utensil you remember your grandmother using when she made your favorite treat. For example, I have a World War 1 military bugle I received from my grandfather. It was the one he carried in the war. He has been gone a long time now, over 30 years, but every time I look at that bugle it takes me back in time and I can see my grandfather trying to play it. It is my connection to him. Cindy has her dad’s first toy, a stuffed cat. To hold this cat is almost like holding her dad and floods her with his memories. Both of these along with the other “things” we have are our connection to family and our past. Yes, times are tough. We could sell them and then buy similar items when times improve. The problem with this is it changes the memory. It would become a reminder of us selling our family instead of a reminder of family. We would sell the couch and sit on the floor before we would sell our family. We’ve each had our share of lows over the years and we still have our memories intact. With that in mind, the antique market is weak. Antiques are selling for about 35 cents on the dollar. Something that sold for $100 a few years ago is now selling for $35 to $50. That’s retail price. When you bring it to a dealer they will offer even less. We are in business and need to sell for a profit so we can survive. That boils down to what you thought was $100 would actually be, at best, $20.

Refinish or Not Refinish; that is the question.

We had a customer ask the other day if it would ruin the value of her mother’s kitchen tool if she painted it. After talking to her for a few minutes it was decided that it would be OK for her to repaint it.

The number one factor was she planned on keeping it and passing it on to her child. The value here is the memories through the generations so the dollar value doesn’t matter. In our opinion there is no dollar value until you decide to sell something. Note: we are talking about market or re-sale value here. Insurance is another topic.

Next was the current condition. The original paint was 90% gone. With the kitchen tool in this kind of condition the dollar value would be low and the new paint would at least give it more eye appeal if she did decide to sell it someday. It doesn’t matter how old something is if it is in such condition as to make unusable it will make for a very tough sell.

Who does the restoration; you or a professional is fairly simple. Do you have the skills needed to do a professional looking job? We have seen items, especially furniture, that looked worse than they did before the restoration.

My wife and I are purists. We believe that any item should be brought back to its original look. To modify an antique item to match today’s trends and fads looks good today but fads are short lived and that item will be put to the curb next year. We always recommend restoration to original style and condition.

Bakelite; What Is It and How Do I know If I Have It?

Bakelite is an early form of plastic. A gentleman named Beakeland invented this phenol formaldehyde in 1907. Bakelite was used in the manufacture of radios, telephones, cameras, and jewelry. It is actually still used today. There are collectors that specialize in each category or product and Bakelite is highly prized.

There are several tests for Bakelite.

The one test you DO NOT want to perform is the “hot needle” test. It is true that if you touch a hot needle to Bakelite it will not penetrate. Bakelite is too hard for the needle. However, if the item is celluloid instead of Bakelite, it will burst violently into flames. Any other form of plastic will melt and damage the piece.

Placed under hot water for a few seconds Bakelite will produce an acrid odor. You can also rub your thumb over the item and get the same odor.

The method we prefer is to use Formula 409, Dow Scrubbing Bubbles, or Semi-Chrome on a cotton swab. Rub the item it doesn’t matter what color the item is if it’s Bakelite the cotton swab will turn yellow.

Other clues for Bakelite are there are no mold lines and it is much heavier than other forms of plastic.

Antique Bottles

As long as we’re on the subject of old glass, I might as well point to another of my favorite web sites. It is filled with detailed information on dating and identifying old bottles and glass.

The web site is

EAPG or Early American Pattern Glass

There is a great web site we refer to for this category of glass. If you are interested go to

Depression Glass what is it and how do you know it is real?

Depression glass was made in the U.S.A. from the 1920’s into the 1950’s when it started to lose its popularity. Depression glass is not and never was fine china. It was made cheap with the intention of selling it cheap. It was mainly used as a premium or give-away for other companies to promote their products. It was common practice for customers to get complete sets free from cereal, soap, movie theaters, gas stations, and other places. Today it is a very popular collectible and because of its popularity it is being Faked in places like china and mexico. How do you know it is real? Practice and study. There are a lot of patterns and colors; pick one that you like and concentrate on it. The local library is a good source for books on Depression glass and it is free. The Internet has literally thousands of pages on the subject as well. The color should be light or thin almost clear. If it is a real deep/dark color, hard to see through, it is most likely faked.

Expect to see bubbles inside the glass. A few air bubbles are OK, in my opinion, and are expected. Quality Control was used but slight imperfections were accepted to keep costs down on this inexpensive glassware. Too many air bubbles can detract from the pattern or indicate a cheaply made fake.

Look for the Straw Mark. This is a thin line usually near the center of the piece. It is not a crack and should not go all the way through the glass. If it can be felt it should be smooth almost rounded. A crack on the other hand will go through the glass and a fingernail may snag on it. I have read two reasons for this mark. Both seem possible to me and it doesn’t really matter because this straw mark is almost a dead give-away for true Depression glass.

Blowout is another flaw to expect. The molding process causes this. As these molds were used and reused over and over they would start to wear out and a small amount of glass would seep out from between the two halves. Lightly run your hand along the edge to feel this and know the difference between blowout and chips. Blowout Always goes out away from the piece and a chip Always goes in toward the piece.

The flaws mentioned here are indications of authenticity and to do not take away from the value of the glass. Chips and cracks always take away from the value.

The great Griswold – Wagner Ware debate; which is the better cookware?

Ha, I’m staying out of that one. Cindy has and uses both and swears by them. Griswold was started in 1865 in Erie, PA and continued production into the 1950′s. In 1957 they were bought by Wagner. Wagner Ware was founded in 1881 in Sydney; that’s a city in Ohio, not Australia. Both Griswold and Wagner trademarks are owned by American Culinary Corp. and are still produced today.

The really neet thing is the castiron cookware produced in the 1800′s is still in use today in kitchens across America.

Is your silverware marked 1847 Rogers Brothers flatware?

1847 is not the year it was made; it is the name of the pattern. 1847 Rogers Brothers is still being produced today. 1847 is year the Rogers Brothers perfected the electroplate method. In 1898 Rogers Brothers joined with other Connecticut silver companies to form the International Silver Company. Royal Copley is not a company, it is a product line produced by the Spaulding Company of Sebring, Ohio. This product line of ceramic planters, figurines, etc. were made between 1939 and 1960.

What is an Antique?

To the general public it is anything old. A person in their twenties swears an item from the 1960′s has to be an antique. The Tariff Act of 1930 defined (in part) an antique as being made prior to 1830. This was the beginning of the age of mass production. The U. S. Customs goes on to define an antique as anything over 100 years old. Generally speaking, the 100 year old definition is accepted. There are category specific definitions such as cars, computers, toys, etc. each with their own age limit.

How old is that “doggy in the window”?

Actually an easy way to get an approximate age on an item is to look for the company’s address; either on the original box or on the item itself. If there is a barcode it was made after 1974; the first commercial barcode showed up on a pack of Wrigley’s gum in 1974 and became widespread around 1981 when the U.S. Government required the barcode on all items sold to the military.

  • Zip Codes started showing up in 1963 with Zip + 4 showing up in 1983
  • The two letter state abbreviations also started in 1963. MI = post 1963, Mich = pre 1963
  • From 1943 to 1963 large cities were divided up into Postal Zones; i.e. Detroit 4 Mich

These are just a few of the tricks to dating vintage items.

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