The Antiquities Detective Answers Readers’ Questions, April 2, 2022 | Information about antiquities and teaching history

Origins of the wooden bowl: This wooden bowl has been in our family for over 100 years, according to my late mother. She remembered my grandmother who made bread dough there. She used it to make salads.

I think it’s maple. It measures 14 inches in diameter and about 5 inches high. What can you tell me about it and its value, if any?

FMC, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

To respond: This is no ordinary wooden bowl. From your photo, you have a burl bowl from the early 19th century.

In early America, wood was so plentiful that woodworkers had a choice of burls (gnarled, gnarled protrusions that grew on trees). It was used as part of the design and decorated. Pieces were used as everything from bowls to spoons and trays.

These days, collectors pay top dollar for good examples. In a retail setting, your bowl could sell for over $400.






Boot Jack Found in Accommodation: We recently bought an old Victorian house and are renovating it. In the house we found this old iron object that looks like an insect. At the bottom there is still a paper tag attached. It reads “National Sewing Machine Co., Belvidere, ILL.”

The thing is about 9 inches long. What does this have to do with sewing machines? Is it worth it or should I throw it in the trash?

GL, Boynton Beach, Florida

To respond: Wow! You have an antique boot jack.

It was an important object in the 19th century for those who wore boots. Basically, it was placed near the back door of a house to help remove the tall boots that were fashionable at the time. When low lace-up shoes became popular in the late 19th century, they became obsolete.

Boot jacks have been made in many forms, from your beetle to guns. Iron, brass and wood were materials used.

The National Sewing Machine Co. made many items unrelated to sewing machines.

There are reproductions of your Beetle starter jack, however, yours is genuine and a collector could pay up to $700.







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Antique Fancy Lighter: This interesting table lighter has always been on our living room coffee table. It belonged to my late father, a former army pilot in World War II.

I’m curious about its history and value.

It comes in the form of an airplane. I think it’s chrome metal. When the nose of the plane is pressed down, the lighter mechanism comes out of the cockpit. It is signed “Dunhill” at the bottom.

CM, Des Moines, Iowa

To respond: You have a Dunhill lighter made in 1954.

The history of lighters dates back to 1823, when Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner created an object that emitted sparks.

However, the first automatic lighter known as the Pist-O-Liter was created by Ronson in 1910, in the form of a pistol.

Your lighter is chrome and represents the famous F-86 Saber jet plane. It’s a popular collectible and finds buyers for $300 or more.

About Oscar L. Smith

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