Valentine's Day collectables

Terry Kovel
This 1950s cutout card picturing a cup and saucer and the message "We belong together" sold this year for 50 cents.

Valentine's Day in school in the 1940s and 1950s meant a celebration with cards delivered to a student's desk or a decorated box on the teacher's desk. Sweet treats -  especially the small, hard candy hearts printed with special messages, also were popular.

Like today, there were concerns that some students would not get many, or receive cards that are unkind, or none at all. So, stores sold packages of valentines, enough for a class. A popular brand found at the dime store offered a box of "25 Valentine cutouts, all different, One for Teacher, 29c all with envelopes."

Handwritten valentine notes were used in America by the 1740s. In the 1840s, fancy envelopes with paper lace and cut out pictures were made and sold in Massachusetts by Esther Howland. In the 1890s, clever mechanical cards with moving parts were popular. From 1900 to the 1920s, postcards were favored.

Today, the 1950s die-cut valentines sell for less than a dollar to $15. Older, lacy cards can sell from $20 to $100. There are two clubs and shows with information: the National Valentine Collectors Association and the Greeting Card Association.
Q: I recently found two old dining-room chairs in my attic that I remember using as a child 70 years ago. They have an arched back, six turned spindles and a shaped seat. I remember them having a shiny black finish, but they are very worn. I'm thinking of repainting them, but my son suggests that doing so might reduce their value. Can you tell me what their value is and whether repainting would make them more or less valuable?
A: Repainting or refinishing will lower the value of a piece of furniture if it is a valuable antique, made by a well-known craftsman or finished with a hand-painted technique like grain painting. Your chairs are not very old; they're probably from the early 1900s. They are worth about $50. So, in your case, repainting them might bring them back to life and raise their decorative value. 
Q: What is a Fuller & Warren coal kitchen stove worth? It's a Stewart Model and has a compartment on the right side of the cook top for water. 
A: Fuller & Warren Co. was in business in Troy, New York, from 1846 to 1934. The company made stoves, ranges, heaters and other equipment. Philo Penfield Stewart, one of the founders of Oberlin College, held several patents for cast-iron cooking stoves. Fuller & Warren bought the rights to the Stewart patents in the 1850s and began making Stewart model stoves under his supervision. It became the company's most popular brand, and more than two million were sold. Old stoves can be hard to sell unless they're in good condition. Most are bought to be used, but coal is not a popular fuel. 
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Q: I have Gaudy Welsh cups, saucers, a few plates, a bowl and a teapot with a broken spout. There are no markings on the bottoms. Are they worth hanging on to? I understand good ones have an Allerton Mark. 
A: Gaudy Welsh is an Imari-decorated earthenware with red, blue, green, and gold decorations. It was an inexpensive pottery made in England primarily for the American market. Gaudy Welsh is a name more often used by American collectors than British, where it usually is called by the pattern name, if known. Over 150 factories made Gaudy Welsh between 1820 and 1860. The majority of Gaudy Welsh was made by Staffordshire potteries and was not marked. Later reproductions made in the 1900s are usually marked. Charles Allerton & Sons was a Staffordshire pottery in business from about 1859 to 1942 and is one of the potteries that made reproduction Gaudy Welsh in the 1900s. Your unmarked pieces are probably older and more valuable. Our "Kovels Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2018" lists a cup and saucer for $88, plates for $87-$95 and a pitcher for $92.
Q: I have a vintage hammered aluminum chafing dish with original glass bowl, but I believe the aluminum "cup" placed in the space for the heating element isn't original. The space is the perfect size for a tea light candle, but I hesitate to put a direct flame under the glass. What was used originally, and what would be safe to use now? Would Sterno be acceptable?
A: Don't use canned heat (Sterno) if the glass dish is directly over the heat. A tea candle will help keep the food warm if the food is hot when it's put in the dish. Canned heat can be used if the chafing dish is the kind that has a metal outer dish that holds water, which heats the glass dish. A chafing dish that uses a water bath to keep the food warm has the French name "bain-marie."
Tip: Mix three parts water and one part vinegar and use the mixture to sponge off the white salt stains that form on leather shoes or boots.
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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
Folk art, whimsy, woman, on horse, red shirt, green skirt, articulated, c. 1900, 9 x 8 1/4 inches, $60.
McKee glass, berry bowl, dragon, 1 x 4 inches, $110.
Advertising sign, half horse, half dolphin, horse's head, dolphin tail, sheet metal, white, red, black, 28 x 32 inches, $350.
Lamp, electric, iridescent art glass, red, ribbed, dome shade, aubergine to gold aurene, Lundberg Studios, 15 1/2 inches, $470.
Judaica, menorah, chrome, nine removable arms, stylized, illusion of steps, Yaacov Agam, 13 x 7 inches, $600.
Cinnabar box, panels, cranes, rocky land, peaches, butterflies, leaves, green ground, 10 1/4 inches, $810.
Armchair, cherry, upholstery, high arms, cross bars under seat, E & T Kindt-Larsen, 1950s, 28 x 27 1/2 inches, $1,880.
Coin-operated slot machine, Watling, Rol-A-Top, 5 cent, red, yellow, gilt, embossed, cornucopia, 1925, 26 x 15 3/4 inches, $2,340.
Bookends, steel, scrap metal shapes, right triangle shape, forged, fabricated, Albery Paley, 14 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches, $4,380.
Chandelier, four-light, brass, polished, frosted glass, Tommy Parzinger, 23 x 21 inches, $4,690.


Order the special reports set: "Buyers' Guide to 20th Century Costume Jewelry," Part One and Part Two. Only $34.95. These reports identify the most popular makers and designers of costume jewelry. European and North American costume jewelry, Mexican silver jewelry and mid-century jewelry. Recognize Hobe and Sigi jewelry and rare pieces of Bakelite. For the serious collector and the beginner. Available only from Kovels for $34.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996; online at; or mail to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.