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COLUMNISTS

English 'biscuit box' a curious collectible

Terry Kovel
This silver-plated serving piece is called a box but it doesn't look like one. It held English biscuits, but if the sides opened, the cookies inside would fall down. Each of the shell-shaped bowls had a hinged, pierced flap that kept the heat and the biscuits in place when the sides were opened and became flat bowls to serve the cookies. The flaps are often missing when the biscuit box is sold.

The English spoken in England can sometimes confuse an American because the same word can mean different things in the two countries. 

Almost every tourist learns that in England a "lift" is an elevator. But who has been warned that an English "biscuit" is what an American calls a "cookie," and that an American biscuit, also called "shortbread," is a British scone? 

Several English silver-plated biscuit boxes were sold at a Neal auction recently along with labeled rectangular wooden boxes and covers and decorated tin boxes filled with loose cookies (biscuits) for the store.

One of the silver boxes was made by James Dixon & Sons, a well-known Sheffield manufacturer that worked from 1804 to 1992. It is almost 11 inches high. Price including buyer's premium, $256.

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Q. My mother says her bracelet is made of bake-a-lite. What is that? 

A: Bakelite is a plastic developed in the early 1900s. It was used for jewelry by the 1930s by major designers. The art deco jewelry became very popular. Bakelite was needed for the war in the 1940s, so the jewelry wasn't made for about five years. About 1997, the deco jewelry was rediscovered by collectors, and books were published with information and color pictures that made prices skyrocket. Bracelets with inset dots were selling for $300 to $1,000. Small pins were $75 to $300, and carved bracelets were about $500. There is a good supply of plastic jewelry now that those who bought in the 1990s are older and "decluttering." A recent Morphy's auction sold about 600 pieces in a recent auction. They sold for a total of $43,000 (yes, I counted the pieces), with an average price of $70.

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Q. I have a cast-iron Boston Terrier doorstop that is about 7 by 9 inches with a seam that indicates it was cast in two parts. How can I tell if it's by Hubley and what the value might be?

A: Many companies made Boston Terrier doorstops, but the one made by Hubley Manufacturing Co. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is the most famous. Most of the dogs look to the right. A few look to the left and are rarer and worth more. Hubley molds were sold to the John Wright Co. of Wrightstown, Pennsylvania, in 1940, and that company began making reproductions of several Hubley doorstops. Not all Hubley doorstops were marked, but most have a three-digit number on the bottom, back or inside. The original Hubley doorstops feel smooth and have tight seams. The pieces were held together with flat screws that were painted over. Hubley Boston Terrier doorstops sell for about $150. Similar doorstops by other makers sell for less.

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Q. We found a baseball card in good shape among our grandfather's household items. It says "Dan Dee Red Schoendienst" and has the player's picture and his signature on the front. The back says "Albert Frederick Schoendienst," lists his statistics and records, and has "Dan Dee Hylo-ized Potato Chips" on the bottom. We're wondering what it's worth.

A: This baseball card is one in a series of 29 baseball cards that came in packages of Dan Dee potato chips in 1954. Dan Dee Pretzel and Potato Chip Co. was in business in Cleveland from 1916 to 2018. Most of the cards pictured players on the Cleveland Indians or Pittsburgh Pirates, baseball teams in Dan Dee's distribution area. Red Schoendienst, an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, was one of seven others included. The value of a baseball card is based on the popularity of the player, the rarity of the card and its condition. Since the Dan Dee cards were in the bag next to the chips and had only a wax coating to protect them, most have some grease stains or bent corners. Price paid for your card in good condition is about $75.

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Q. How can I clean the marble top on an antique chest? The chest is probably over 100 years old. There are some stains on the marble that look like some kind of liquid spilled on it. 

A: The easy way is to buy a commercial marble stain remover. You can also   try a home remedy. Wash the marble top with dishwashing liquid and hot water, rinse well and dry thoroughly. Use a soft cloth or a bristle brush if needed. Then you can try one of the many do-it-yourself methods. Different solutions clean different types of stains. If the marble is a light color, try a mixture of several tablespoons of 6% hydrogen peroxide and a tablespoon of baking soda. Mix into a thick paste, the consistency of peanut butter. Spread it in a 1/4-inch thick layer on the stain. Cover with plastic wrap, tape the edges and let it dry for 24 hours. Use a plastic (not metal) spatula or a damp sponge to remove the paste, rinse and buff dry. Repeat the process if necessary. Recipes for the mixture use 6% to 12% hydrogen peroxide. Some add a little ammonia and more baking soda. There are many mixtures mentioned online. Good luck. Some stains can't be removed. 

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TIP: If you have new, shiny, silvery-looking pewter collector's plates, don't use any form of abrasive cleaner on them.

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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer reader's questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallery@kovels.com.

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CURRENT PRICES

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. 

Textile, apron, Odd Fellows, cotton, All-Seeing Eye, classical female figures, leaves, green grosgrain ribbon, 1800s, 17 x 16 inches, $60.

Sewing machine, B. Eldredge Automatic, black, flower decoration, stamped needle plate, plaque on base, National Sewing Machine Co., 9 x 14 inches, $105.

Toy, train set, Twin Train, tin lithograph, track base with city graphics, hills, two windup trains, signal device, Technofix, Bim Bam on box, 24 inches, $240.

Cast iron, cigar cutter, round, tab handle, embossed dish base, marked, James G. Blaine, Brunhoff Mfg. Co., Cincinnati, 5 x 6 1/4 inches, $355.

Furniture, tavern table, Queen Anne, pine and maple, porringer top, tapered legs, pad feet, 18th century, 28 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 31 inches, $405.

Baccarat, box, piano shape, clear paneled glass, gilt bronze mount, hinged lid, egg & dart trim, tapered feet, 4 x 5 3/4 x 5 inches, $640.

Dinnerware, place setting, Dinner Plate pattern, black & white transfer print, Roy Lichtenstein, marked Jackson China for Durable Dish Co., 1966, six piece, $1,375.

Glass, vase, G. Argy-Rousseau, white, purple flowers, green leaves, brown stems, pate-de-verre, molded signature, c.1900, 4 x 2 1/2 inches, $2,000.

Pottery, midcentury, vase, coupe, mottled luster glaze, cylindrical, short splayed foot, Beatrice Wood, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, $2,750.

Game, chess & backgammon set, lacquered wood box reversible board, jade chess pieces, Chinese export, 14 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches, $3,520.