This is the time to run out to the grocery store and get a turkey for Thanksgiving. In the early 19th century, the turkey was a wild one, probably killed by a member of the community.
If a time machine could bring someone from that era to our Thanksgiving dinner today, there would be very little inside or outside the house that has not changed. Food, communication, transportation, their contents and even toys might now be too complicated and look unfamiliar.
Even dolls have been modernized. Dolls today walk, talk, dance, answer questions, have washable hair and realistic skin and seem almost alive thanks to batteries or electronics.
But sometimes our ancestors created amazing dolls with limited tools but clever ideas. A doll made in the 19th century could also walk, but by a very unusual method. The doll’s body was carved of wood with moveable jointed arms and a swivel head mounted on a dowel. Eight legs with feet wearing shoes were arranged like spokes on a wheel. The fashionable doll dress of the day was long enough to cover most of the doll’s legs. Only two of the feet would show as a child “walked” the doll across the floor by making the wheel of legs turn. A rare doll like this sells for thousands of dollars today. There are very few still to be found.
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Q: I have a set of four modern fully upholstered tulip chairs that are about 25 years old. I would like your help in establishing their value and maker. The only mark other than some numbers is a “Made in France” label.
A: The famous “tulip chair” was designed in 1955-56 by Eero Saarinen, a Finnish-American designer and architect. The chair has been in production ever since it was introduced, and its only licensed manufacturer has been Knoll Inc., now based in East Greenville, Pa. Knockoffs have been made all over the world, though, and your chairs are probably among those unauthorized copies. They would not sell for as much as Knoll’s authentic tulip chairs.
Q: I’m trying to find out the value of my early-1900s Piedmont cedar chest.
A: The Piedmont Red Cedar Chest Co. was located in Statesville, N.C. The company sold its cedar chests through catalogs, not in stores. The chests were made of solid red cedar from North Carolina and Tennessee. The company was in business until at least the late 1920s. Cedar chests are not very decorative but they are useful. If in good condition, they sell for about the same price as new cedar chests: $200 to $300.
Q: My great-great-grandmother’s two pieces of pressed glass now belong to me. One is a covered butter dish and the other an open sugar bowl. I know the pattern is Bulls-Eye and Daisy, and the bulls-eyes are ruby-stained. Can you tell me who made it? I’m looking for the cream pitcher to match. How can I find it?
A: Bulls-Eye and Daisy was made in 1909-10 at the U.S. Glass Co.’s factory in Glassport, Pa. The pattern originally was called Newport and also is sometimes called Bulls-Eye and Daisies. It was made not only in clear glass with ruby-stained bulls-eyes, like yours, but also in clear glass and clear with green or amethyst bulls-eyes. Some pieces were also trimmed in gold. To find a matching creamer, shop online or contact a matching service such as Replacements.com. The creamer with ruby stain should cost you about $45. Your butter dish is valued at $100, and your sugar bowl at $70.
Tip: Be sure to rinse fabrics until all soap residue is gone. Soap in the textile will scorch when you iron.