In 18th-century England, most women married when young, had children and learned to cook, take care of the house and children, make textiles or at least create bedding or clothing, and be their husbands' helpers when needed. Hester Bateman was an exception.
She married a man who made gold chains. He died after they had six children. He left the metal-working tools to his wife in his will so he must have known what a skillful silversmith she was. Hester became a registered silvermaker in 1761 using the mark "HB" in script.
By 1774 she was in her own business with two of her sons. They used the latest methods and made silverware from thin sheets of silver rather than the Sheffield plate type made by others. They stayed with traditional styles and made everything from tea caddies to inkwells. Hester retired in 1790, and died in 1794.
She was the first well-known female silversmith in England, and her work has always been popular with today's collectors. Brunk Auctions in Asheville, N.C., sold a Bateman teapot last fall for $2,832.
Cal Shop furniture
Q: In 1960 we bought a queen-size birch bed and dresser marked "Cal Shop." I can't find any information about the maker or value. Can you help?
A: The trademark "Cal Shop" was owned by California Furniture Shops Ltd., which was based in Los Angeles. It was in business from at least the late 1940s into the 1970s or '80s. Your bedroom set would sell as used furniture if it's in excellent shape. Try selling it locally, though, so shipping costs will not be high.
Q: I have a 300- to 400-pound iron anvil that was given to me almost 40 years ago. I sprayed it black because it was rusting, and it's rusting a little bit again. The anvil is dated 1917. I used it as a decoration in the past, but I have no use for it anymore. Can you give me some idea of its worth?
A: Cast-iron anvils have been made in different sizes and shapes for different uses. Anvils weighing several hundred pounds were primarily used in industry, while smaller ones were used by farmers to sharpen tools.
Someone who collects old tools or vintage farm equipment might be interested in an old anvil, but a large, heavy anvil could be harder to sell than one that's easier to pick up and display. The date on your anvil adds interest. Recent prices include $192 for a 115-pound anvil and $380 for a 160-pound anvil.
Tim Tyler figurine
Q: I have several figurines (resin, I think) that range from 3 to 5 inches tall. Each is marked with "KFS" on the back. They also are marked on the front of its base with a character name, including Hans, Fritz, Prince Valiant, Popeye, etc. One of them is a man in a sailor suit and is marked "Tim Tyler." Can you tell me something about him, how many different figurines were made, and if they are collectible?
A: The initials "KFS" stand for King Features Syndicate, which owned the comic strips and the rights to the characters. A series of 24 figurines was made by Syroco for King Features Syndicate in 1944. Twelve of them, including Tim Tyler, were offered as Pillsbury Enriched Farina premiums. Tim Tyler was a cartoon strip that debuted in 1928 and was featured in newspapers, comic books and movies. The last strip ran in 1996. The figurine is shown in a Navy uniform because it was issued during World War II. Most of these figurines sell online for $15 to $30 each.
Q: I have a mug that reads "Ovaltine's Golden Annie-versary" in black, gold and white letters on one side. It has a big gold number "50" with a picture of Little Orphan Annie and her dog, Sandy, inside the zero. What's the anniversary and what is the mug worth?
A: This mug was issued in 1981 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ovaltine's initial sponsorship of the Little Orphan Annie radio show. Ovaltine sponsored the show from 1931 to 1940. Their advertising agency wrote the scripts for the show, which promoted Ovaltine.
Ovaltine was first made in Switzerland in 1904 and originally was called Ovomaltine because it included eggs and malt. The name became Ovaltine in English-speaking countries in 1909. Ovaltine's Annie-versary mugs sell for $5 to $15.
Verdi silk picture
Q: I'm trying to find out something about a picture of Giuseppe Verdi that I inherited from my grandparents, who emigrated from Italy in the early 1900s. Verdi is looking to the left in the picture. It's 10 inches high and 7 inches wide. I've seen this picture before, but this one is woven in what looks like silk. Along the bottom left it reads "Nato a Roncole (Bufseto) il 10 Ottobre 1813" and on the bottom right "Morto a Milano il 27 Gennaio 1901." Any information would be appreciated.
A: Giuseppi Verdi was an Italian composer best known for his operas, including "Aida" and "La Traviata." Memorial pictures like yours were made after Verdi died. Your picture lists his birth and death dates and places. He was born Oct. 10, 1813, in the village of Roncole, commune of Busseto, and died Jan. 27, 1813, in Milan, Italy. Large silk memorial pictures like this sell for $200 to $500.
Dainty Dorothy doll
Q: I have an antique doll that reads "Dainty Dorothy, Germany" on the tummy. It has yellow hair, a bisque head, open mouth with teeth, and a kid body. It is jointed but is missing a hand. It has shoes and socks and a new dress. The doll is about 21 inches tall. Can you tell me how old it is and what it might be worth?
A: Dainty Dorothy was a line of dolls sold by Sears, Roebuck & Co. and by T. Eaton Co., a Canadian department store, from 1910 until at least 1922. Kestner, Simon & Halbig, Armand Marseille, and Gebruder Heubach made bisque heads for the dolls. If you find a manufacturer's mark on the doll's head on the back of the neck, you can identify the maker.
Dolls with composition forearms and lower legs were made beginning in 1912. An all-composition version was sold by Eaton in 1918. Not having the original dress doesn't affect the value much but the value of your doll is lower because it's missing a hand. Your doll is worth $50 to $75.
Terry and Kim Kovel will answer as many letters from readers as possible through the column only. For return of a photograph, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope. Write to: The Kovels, c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019. The website is www.kovels.com.
Prices are from shows nationwide.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial token, portrait, 1929-1968, "Free At Last, Free At Last," silver-tone metal, 1 1/2 inches, $15.
Nikon camera, FE series, Bushnell 28mm lens, about 1978, $30.
Louis XV-style table, parquetry inlay, metal mounts, quatrefoil, shell decoration, cabriole legs, 30 by 25 inches, $125.
Roseville vase, Pine Cone, fan shape, green, marked, 6 5/8 inches, $175.
Silver bracelet, Hector Aguilar, splayed links, box clasp, Mexico, about 1940, 8 3/4 inches, $310.
Ship's compass, brass, domed cylindrical case, oil lamp compartment, 10 1/2 inches, $375.
Chandelier, five-light, Louis XVI style, gilt metal, beaded glass, about 1950, 34 by 15 inches, $565.
Sled, pine, painted sunflower, iron runners, 1800s, 15 inches, $840.
English silver nutmeg grater, George III, engraved, hinged, interior screen, W. Robertson, about 1790, 2 1/2 in., pair, $1,125.
Sampler, verse, trees, flowers, silk on linen, Hetty Ann Kennedy, frame, Pennsylvania, 1822, 20 1/2 by 21 3/4 inches, $1,680.