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Mission style even called for copper-covered phones

Mission style, often called “Arts and Crafts,” was first popular in the early 1900s. Heavy wooden Mission furniture made of dark finished oak was introduced by Gustav Stickley. It was soon copied by many other firms.

The style, displayed in furniture as well as other decorative arts, is somber. Instead of being made in bright colors, textiles and pottery were made in a gray-green or dull dark blue. Silver was considered too bright, so many metal ashtrays, bowls and even cabinet hinges were made of oxidized copper. And a few well-to-do people living with this very modern 1910 style even covered their telephone with hammered copper so it would match their other pieces.

The Roycroft community in East Aurora, N.Y., made many useful and attractive crafts. They did book binding and printing, and produced copper work, leatherwork and, of course, furniture. A copper-coated Bakelite telephone was made in the candlestick shape used at the time. It was manufactured by American Bell Telephone Co. but was enhanced by Roycroft with a handmade “skin” of copper. Both Roycroft and American Bell marked the phone. One sold recently for $10,625.

Q: I own a Puss ’n Boots cookie jar, creamer and salt and pepper shaker set that belonged to my mother. What is the value of the set?

A: Your Puss ’n Boots pieces were made by Shawnee Pottery, which was in business in Zanesville, Ohio, from 1937 to 1961. It made cookie jars, dinnerware, flowerpots, lamps, planters, vases and novelty ware. Puss ’n Boots pieces were made beginning in 1945. A set like yours sold at auction in 2011 for $115.

Q: My late mother-in-law lived in Ponca City, Okla., and was present the day the large statue called “Pioneer Woman” was unveiled there in 1930. The statue depicts a pioneer woman and her young son. My mother-in-law bought a small copy of the statue that day, and we have inherited it. I recently saw a picture of two small “Pioneer Woman” statues and discovered they are actually bookends. I’m sure my mother-in-law would have bought two if she had known. I was told the little statue might be worth a lot of money, but finding out it is a bookend dashed those thoughts. The statue is 81/2 inches tall and is marked “BB” behind the boy’s foot and “JB” on the back. Can you tell me what it’s worth?

A: When Ponca City decided to erect a statue to honor pioneer women, several sculptors were invited to submit small models of their designs, which were exhibited nationwide and voted on by the public. The statue chosen was designed by Bryant Baker. The 17-foot bronze statue was unveiled on April 22, 1930. Jennings Brothers Foundry of Bridgeport, Conn., made pot-metal replicas of the statue and marked them with Baker’s signature, although Baker hadn’t given permission for anyone to reproduce his statue. The small statues made by Jenning Brothers originally sold for $15.95. Value of your statue or single bookend is very little. A pair might sell for $100. A single is worth less than half as much.

Q: I have three pairs of men’s underwear with a neck label that reads “Babe Ruth” in red. They are in a box printed with the word “Sealpax” on the top and also “Step Thru-Button Two” and “A new one free – if this one rips.” The boxed underwear came from my dad’s family’s general store a long time ago. Are they of any value?

A: Sealpax was a trade name registered by the Rubin-Meltzer Corp. of New York in 1915. The company made underwear, robes and pajamas. We found 1926-1930 newspaper ads for Sealpax’s Babe Ruth underwear. Babe Ruth set a record for the most home runs in a season in 1927 and was one of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. He was one of the era’s most popular sports figures, and his name was used to promote many different products. Sealpax’s slogan, “Step Thru-Button Two,” was used on union suits, a type of one-piece long underwear. Ruth’s name also was used to advertise other underwear brands. A box of Babe Ruth underwear sold for more than $500 a couple of years ago.

Tip: If there are two handles on a drawer, open the drawer using both handles. It lessens the strain on the joints.