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It looks like a train, but it's really an iron. A woman had to be strong to press clothes with this 10-pound rarity. Simmons & Co. auctioned the iron for $15,000 at the annual convention of the Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors of America.

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of Jan. 4, 2010

It looks like a train, but it's really an iron. A woman had to be strong to press clothes with this 10-pound rarity. Simmons & Co. auctioned the iron for $15,000 at the annual convention of the Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors of America.
It looks like a train, but it’s really an iron. A woman had to be strong to press clothes with this 10-pound rarity. Simmons & Co. auctioned the iron for $15,000 at the annual convention of the Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors of America.
The old iron your great-grandmother used to iron her clothes with would not seem to be of much use or value today, but there are many collectors who want irons and other laundry-related collectibles. Prices are determined by age, condition, maker, rarity and appeal. It’s like a romance for these collectors – something about the iron seems unusual, entertaining and intriguing. So when a collector found an iron in Alabama about 10 years ago that looked like a locomotive with a handle, she knew it had to be hers. She was able to buy it for about $35. The 10-pound, 8 1/2-inch-long iron has most of its original black paint and gold trim. It was heated with burning alcohol. Research showed that the iron, marked with 1888 and 1889 patent dates and the name “E.B. Crosby,” was known; at least two other examples exist. The figural steam locomotive iron was auctioned at the annual convention of the Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors of America. It brought $15,000. The new owner is taking it to Romania to put in a museum.

Q: I have a sugar and creamer marked “Lotus Ware.” They also have the letters “KTK” in a circle with a crown on top. Who made them? When?

A: Lotus Ware was made by Knowles, Taylor & Knowles Co. of East Liverpool, Ohio, from 1890 to 1900. The Belleek-like porcelain was sometimes decorated outside the factory. Lotus Ware sugar and creamer sets sell for $100 or more, depending on the quality of the decoration.

Q: Since 1964, I have had an old teacher’s desk and armless swivel chair that were removed from my grammar school before it was torn down. The desk is nondescript and unmarked, but the chair has a metal piece on the back that says “Heywood-Wakefield.” What can you tell me about the chair?

A: Heywood-Wakefield Co. was formed in 1921. Its immediate corporate predecessor was Heywood Brothers & Wakefield. So your chair doesn’t date earlier than the 1920s. Both Heywood-Wakefield and its predecessor manufactured school furniture, including children’s and teachers’ desks and chairs, starting in 1897. The earliest furniture was wooden. Later pieces were cast iron, steel or (in the 1950s) plastic.

Q: I came into a collection of World War II paperback books that are sexually explicit. Nothing is left to the imagination. I was told they were given to our servicemen overseas. Is there a market for something like this?

A: Sexually explicit literature, leaflets, posters and cartoons were used as propaganda by both sides during World War II. Germany and Japan air-dropped leaflets in an attempt to demoralize Allied troops, but the leaflets actually had the opposite effect. The pictures of scantily clad women often were used as pinups and were traded by the GIs. Erotica of all sorts sells, but there are laws about displaying sexually explicit items at shows. Ask a local antiquarian bookseller how to sell your books in your state.

Q: I have an April-June 1934 copy of a newspaper called the American Illustrated News. It’s filled solely with stories and photos about Hitler, applauding his leadership and reconstructive work in the “new Germany.” I haven’t been able to dig up any information about this newspaper. Any ideas?

A: We found some articles about the American Illustrated News in the archives of the New York Times. The issue you have may be the only one that ever made it to print. The 64-page broadsheet was dedicated to promoting Hitler and the achievements of the Nazi party to English-speaking readers in London and New York City. But Carl Bergmann of Berlin, the editor of the newspaper, was quoted as saying he regarded the newspaper “as a tourist promotion and not as a political venture.” He said that 50,000 copies were printed and that American readers would be charged 80 cents for a copy, which was expensive at the time.

Q: Are all Boehm figurines marked on the bottom? I recently inherited several porcelain figurines that were always referred to as “Boehm,” but they are not marked at all.

A: Edward Marshall Boehm (1913-1969) opened a porcelain studio in Trenton, N.J., in 1950. The studio is still there, although today it’s owned by a private group of investors. Boehm figurines are always marked. Some are signed with the company’s name either on the bottom or on the plinth. Others carry the company’s horse-head logo. And each piece is numbered, too. Some numbers and marks are stamped and may have worn off, but it’s highly unlikely that all the marks on all of your figurines would have worn off. Your figurines probably were not made by Boehm. Many companies copied Boehm’s style.

Correction: The skeleton rocking chair pictured with our Halloween column was correctly identified in the picture caption as a 20th-century copy of a 19th-century Russian chair. But the article confused the pictured chair with the original Russian chair that auctioned at Christie’s in 1992. The auction price Christie’s listed for the chair was $154,000.

Tip: Put your pearls on after you finish using hair spray or perfume. Both will discolor the pearls.

Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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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.

  • Silhouette, woman in ruffled dress seated on sofa and gazing in mirror, white reflection in mirror, circa 1920, Eva Schonberg, 9 3/4 x 12 1/2 inches, $30.
  • Stoneware pot, Harley’s English jam, dancing golliwog, Seedless Bramble label, circa 1920, 5 1/4 inches, $225.
  • New York Clipper newspaper almanac, color graphics of baseball, track, crew, circus scenes, sports statistics, 64 pages, 9 x 6 inches, $255.
  • Jim Dandy Cleanser powder can, character wearing black top hat and bow tie, red coat, holding can, image of trademark, metal top and bottom, dated 1911, 7 x 3 inches, $385.
  • Schwinn Apple Krate Sting-Ray bicycle, red with white lettering, 1970, 56 x 42 inches, $450.
  • Cloth doll, boy, stitched fingers, sepia features with blue accents, woolen two-piece suit, one leather shoe, circa. 1880, 12 inches, $695.
  • Stoneware churn, brushed cobalt floral swag, applied lunette handles, Beaver County, Pa., mid 1800s, 14 1/2 inches, $765.
  • Applique quilt, Rose of Sharon pattern, solid and print dress fabric, Pennsylvania, 1875, 92 square inches, $880.
  • Queen Anne-style chairs, curly maple, yoke crest rail over vase-shape splat, trapezoid rush seat, pad feet, circa 1900, 40 inches, set of six, $1,055.
  • Sandwich glass pomade jar, figural bear, milk glass, circa 1860, 5 1/4 inches, $1,250.

Just published. The new full-color Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2010, 42nd edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. This large-size paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs and 47,000 up-to-date prices for more than 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You’ll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks, and a report on the record prices of the year, plus helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available at your bookstore; online at; by phone at 800-571-1555; or send $27.95 plus $4.95 postage to Price Book, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

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