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Novelty beer steins are always a favorite among collectors

Beer steins have long been popular. Today's stein is a beer container with a hinged lid and a handle. The lid was the result of health regulations. The bubonic plague of the 1300s, which killed more than 25 million Europeans, and an influx of flies in Europe in the 1400s led to laws that required food to be kept in covered containers. A hinged lid was added to a mug to make a stein.

Most beer steins collected today date from after 1800 and are made of pottery. One famous German company that used the mark "Gerz" opened in 1857 and remained in business until the 1990s (a new company with the same name was recently established in Germany and is using the old Gerz triangle mark).

Gerz made steins using glass or pottery. Its regimental and figural 3-D character steins that look like animal or human heads, usually comic, are especially popular. An amusing Smiling Face pottery stein marked "Gerz" sold for $529 at the Stein Auction Co.' s June auction in Schaumburg, Ill.

Q: I have a Hoosier-style Sellers one-piece cabinet that my mother purchased secondhand in the 1950s. I've been unable to figure out how old the cabinet is. There seems to be a lot of information out there about two-piece cabinets, but not about this one-piece unit. The cabinet was a mint-green color originally, and still has the original flour sifter. Can you help?

A: Hoosier cabinets were first made by Hoosier Manufacturing Co. of New Castle, Ind., about 1900. The freestanding kitchen cabinets had a work surface and shelves and drawers fitted with a flour sifter, coffee and tea canisters, cracker jars and other kitchen items. Soon all similar cabinets by other makers were called "Hoosiers." The G.I. Sellers Co. was the second-largest manufacturer of Hoosier-style cabinets. The company was founded by George Sellers in Kokomo, Ind., in 1888 and moved to Elwood, Ind., in 1905. It closed in 1950. Hoosier-style cabinets were made until the 1930s, when built-in kitchen cabinets became popular.

Q: I have a set of dishes that are green and white and have a scene of the interior of what looks like a log cabin. The dishes are marked "Colonial Homestead by Royal." Different scenes are pictured on different pieces. The scene on the plates includes a table, chairs, grandfather clock, large fireplace with hanging cookpots and an old-fashioned gun over the fireplace. We find these interesting because we recently built a log cabin. This set was left to me by my great-uncle. It includes service for six people and includes plates, small bowls, cups and saucers, a platter and a vegetable bowl. I'd like to know how old these are and what they might be worth.

A: The Royal China Co. was in business in Sebring, Ohio, from 1934 to 1986. The company made dinnerware, cookware and advertising premiums. The Colonial Homestead pattern, which includes scenes from a colonial home, was designed by Gordon Parker. It was introduced about 1951 and was sold by Sears, Roebuck & Co. through the 1960s. The dishes sell for very low prices today.

Q: I have an old ticket that was my great-grandfather's. It's for a "Mexican Bull Fight" held in the Cripple Creek District of Colorado in August 1895. I understand this was the only bullfight ever held in the United States. Any idea what the ticket might be worth?

A: The Mexican bullfight held in Gillett, Colo., on Aug. 24-25, 1895, was billed by its promoter as the "first bull fight held in the United States." Two professional bullfighters from Mexico were hired, but the bulls, whether imported or homegrown, were unenthusiastic participants. So, according to most accounts, the event was a fiasco, a planned third day was canceled, area humane societies protested, and those who attended wanted their money back. The Denver Public Library has a ticket like yours in its collection, and other historical societies around Cripple Creek (south of Denver) probably would be interested in owning one. So you might consider donating yours. If you decide to sell, contact an "Old West" auction. That's where you'd probably get the most money — and it's impossible to predict how much. Gillett, by the way, was a Gold-Rush town that's now a ghost town. Bullfighting was banned in the United States in 1957, although so-called bloodless bull fights are held in some U.S. communities.

Q: We found a Civil War discharge paper for Jasper Noon in my mother-in-law's estate and are wondering if it has any value. There is a faded paymaster's stamp, an eagle, flags and stars at the top under the words "To all whom it may concern." The soldier joined Company C, 50th Regiment of Indiana Infantry, on Nov. 1, 1861, and was discharged on Jan. 5, 1865.

A: A collector of Civil War items might be interested in the discharge papers. Interest in Civil War items is expected to increase this year, since it's the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Jasper Noon's regiment was organized in September 1861 and mustered out in September 1865. The 50th Regiment of Indiana Infantry listed 57 men killed in battle or who died of their wounds and 161 who died of disease. Civil War discharge papers sell for $60 to $80.

Tip: To remove verdigris (the green mold that forms on metal) from costume jewelry, mix equal amounts of mayonnaise and ketchup. Rub it on and quickly remove it. Wash. Try again and leave it on longer if the first treatment doesn't work. Don't use on pieces with pearls.

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