A fireplace requires a lot of observation and “feeding” if it is to keep a room warm. Today’s wood-burning fireplaces use logs cut to size to fit the fireplace. A wire basket keeps the logs behind andirons, and a fire screen prevents cinders and cinders from spilling into the room. The poker is a tool used to turn or move flaming logs. The shovel removes the ashes when the fire is extinguished. But what is the big box with a lid that is on the floor next to the fireplace for?
The box is called a coal bucket. They were first used in the 18th century to hold lumps of coal for the fire. By 1850 the coal had been replaced by logs, but the box is still called a coal bucket. The box could also be used to collect ashes when the fire was extinguished.
This coal bucket is made of oak with brass trim. It was made circa 1900 as an earlier example with four round legs and a metal liner. It sold for $125 at a DuMouchelles auction in Detroit.
Q: Years ago there was a town in Nebraska named Gross. There is only one store and one safe left in the town. My dad traveled for Swift & Co. in the 1920s and had to stop at the bank, because he had a wallet engraved “Gross State Bank, Gross, Nebr., Appreciates your business” in gold lettering. I have never seen this type of wallet in a museum. Is there a value to this?
A: Gross, Nebraska is one of the smallest towns in the United States, with just two residents. The town was founded in 1893 and is named after Ben Gross, an early farmer and store owner. The city grew and several businesses, churches and two banks were created. The railroad the city expected took a different route and many people left the area. Later, two fires destroyed homes and businesses on Main Street. The population fell to 84 in 1920. The Gross State Bank went bankrupt and was on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s list of bankrupt banks in 1923. So your wallet is almost 100 years old. The only part of the bank that exists today is the safe, outside the building. Your dad’s wallet probably isn’t a museum piece and doesn’t have much monetary value, but it does have sentimental value and a good history.
Q: When I was little, before I got my ears pierced, my mom would let me play dress up with vintage clip-on earrings that originally belonged to her mom and aunt. Were clip earrings more popular than pierced earrings? When did ear piercing become more common?
A: Clip-on earrings are a 20th century invention. The first earrings were intended for pierced ears. Earrings and ear studs first appeared in the mid-1800s, but by the end of the century people considered piercings to be barbaric. Screw-back earrings were invented in 1894 as an alternative to piercing. Clip-on earrings were patented in the 1930s. Pierced ears became fashionable again in the 1960s. As styles changed, new owners sometimes put new mountings on the earrings. older style ears, changing from clip to pierced and vice versa.
Q: I’m trying to price a large quantity of old Avon bottles that I recently received. How can I find the current prices?
A: Avon has been in business under various names for 135 years. Its founder, David McConnell, was a traveling bookseller until 1886, when he decided to sell perfumes, calling his company the California Perfume Co. He mixed the perfumes himself and hired women as sales representatives. Cleansers, powders and other cosmetics soon followed. The “Avon” name and logo were first used in 1929 on a line of cosmetics. The company was renamed Avon Products, Inc. in 1939. After spin-offs, sales and mergers, the company became New Avon LLC in 2016 and then The Avon Co. in 2021 as part of Natura, a Brazilian products company of beauty. The figural bottles that held Avon products were made in limited editions from 1965 to 1980 and were very popular collector’s items for several years, but they are not as popular now. Most sell online for less than $10. Check “sold” prices on eBay and other websites to see what the bottles you have are selling for. If you don’t see exactly what you have, something similar will give you an idea of the price range. It will take time to do the research if you have a large collection.
Q: I’m trying to find information about the porcelain maker who used a mark with the words “Crown Devon, SF & Co., Stoke on Trent, England” above an elaborate crown. Can you help ?
A: It was one of the marks used by S. Fielding & Co., a firm in business in Stoke, Staffordshire, England, from about 1879 to 1982. Earthenware and majolica were made at the Railway Pottery in England. company, which was renamed Devon Pottery in 1912. The mark you are describing was in use from about 1891 to 1913.
POINT: Photos above a bed or sofa should take up about two-thirds of the space. Hang a large picture or a group of small ones. Make sure the lowest image won’t be jostled around by someone on the bed or couch.
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel are syndicated columnists.