Collectors are searching for antique and vintage items related to discontinued technology — old computers, transistor radios, early television sets, computer games, even old typewriters, fans, and ticker tape machines.
A recent auction featuring furniture, cigar cutters, stoneware crocks, Chippendale furniture and maps also offered an antique stock ticker. The 11-inch-high machine had a metal label explaining that it was designed by Thomas Edison in 1870. It was used for about 80 years for getting stock and commodities quotes from exchanges. The estimated auction price was $1,000 to $1,500.
Printed letters could be sent by telegraph as early as 1846, but machines were fragile and difficult to use. Telegraphic printers were improved, and by 1867 a stock price ticker system was being used in New York City.
Edison's invention came next. It was the first one to use letters and numbers, not Morse code. By the 1880s, thousands of stock tickers were in use in New York that made stock trades accurate and almost instantaneous.
Ticker tape machines recorded information on long thin strips of paper that were discarded.
When there was a parade in Manhattan to celebrate a holiday or championship, the tapes were torn and thrown at the parade from open windows. Soon the events were called ticker-tape parades. The name still is used, although now the paper comes from the paper shredders.
An antique ticker tape machine attracted technology enthusiasts at a 2014 Pook and Pook auction in Downingtown, Pa. The rare Edison machine sold for $2,460.
Q: I have a large cedar chest with a curved lid and drawers along the bottom. It has two curved handles. It's marked under the lid "Roos Chests, Forest Park, Ill., Sealtite lid patented." It was my maternal grandmother's wedding chest about 1920. The chest is 44 inches wide, 31 inches deep, and 18 inches across. What are the best fabrics to store in a cedar chest? Does it have any value as an antique?
A: Cedar chests have been used to store things for hundreds of years. They are often called "hope chests" because they often were given to young women to keep linens and other household items before marriage. The cedar keeps out moths and other insects, but the oil in the wood will discolor fabric or paper. Before storing fabrics in the cedar chest, it should be lined with mylar or polyethylene sheeting. The fabric should be wrapped in white cotton sheets or washed unbleached muslin. Pictures and other paper objects should be placed in an archival box before storing in a cedar chest.
Edward Roos Co. was founded in Chicago in 1916 and moved to Forest Park in 1918. At one time it made more chests than any other maker in the world. The company was sold in 1951 and it went out of business in 1953. Cedar chests are useful and sell quickly. Many Roos chests are found online and in shops. Plain chests go for $100 to $150. Those with extra decoration or carvings can sell for $300 to $500.
Craftsman Studios box
Q: I have a copper box with a hinged lid that is marked "Craftsman Studios" above a hammer striking an anvil. The words "Hand Made" are on the anvil and the words "Laguna Calif" are below it. There is a repousse long-stemmed rose bud on the top of the lid. When was this made and what is it worth?
A: Carl Wirths started Craftsman Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1919, making jewelry and desk accessories. Wirths moved to California and opened a studio in Los Angeles in 1920. Clyde Hall took over ownership in the studio in 1924. The studio was moved to Laguna Beach in 1929 and was in business until the 1950s. Hand-hammered desk accessories, vases and other items were made at the California studio. Variations on the name of the workshop were used, including "Studio" instead of "Studios," and "Craftsmen" instead of "Craftsman."
The name and location marked on your copper box indicate it was made in 1929 or 1939. The realistic rose on top of the box is not a typical Arts and Crafts design, so your box is not a type popular with Arts and Crafts collectors. It would sell for $75 to $100.
Q: During the 1950s I attended an Italian Anti-Defamation League dinner in New York. I got a lot of autographs, and when I approached Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees for an autograph, he gave permission for the whole team to sign my book. Is it worth anything?
A: The Italian Anti-Defamation League, which became the Italian-American Civil Rights League, was active in the 1970s and wasn't in existence in the 1950s. Mobster Joseph Colombo, a member of the Costa Nostra, was one of the founding members.
Was Joe DiMaggio, who played for the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951, being honored at the meeting? We wonder how you got the autographs of all the players, unless they were all at the meeting, too. Usually, sports memorabilia signed by an entire team is worth more than something signed by just a few team members. An expert on sports memorabilia and autographs would have to see your book in order to determine the value.
Falstaff beer clock
Q: A baseball team gave me a Falstaff beer clock for my birthday in 1957. The numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12 are on the clock face. There is a large shield-shaped Falstaff Beer logo and two beer mugs that move on the front. There is a light inside that lights up the clock face. What is it worth?
A: Beer was produced under the Falstaff name from 1903 until 2005. Several Falstaff beer clocks in a variety of styles were made over the years. Most of them sell for $50 to $60. Your "toasting" beer mugs make it more attractive, so it might be $150 to $200.
Shirley Temple mug
Q: I have a blue glass mug with a picture of Shirley Temple on it. Her signature is underneath her picture. The mug is 4 inches high. How much is this worth?
A: Shirley Temple (1928-2014) was a movie star most famous for her roles as a child star. She made her first movie in 1932. Your mug is part of a breakfast set that included a cobalt blue glass bowl, mug and pitcher. They were made by Hazel Atlas Glass Co. and U.S. Glass Co. from 1934 to 1942 and were given away as Wheaties and Bisquick premiums. Some pieces were decorated with the picture of a very young Shirley, others used a picture of Shirley in her 1936 Captain January costume. Millions of the dishes were made. The mug sells for about $10.
Tip: Do not store papers near sunlight, heaters, radiators, furnaces, stoves, lamps, television sets, VCRs or any other heat-producing device.
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, NY 10019. The website is www.kovels.com.
Prices are from shows nationwide.
Buffalo pottery bowl, willow, cobalt blue, house, birds, footed, 1922, 4 by 8 by 3 inches, $50.
Soda bottle, stoneware, cobalt blue dipped spout and neck, P. Pfannebecker, about 1870, 9 1/2 inches, $60.
Coca-Cola, tray, 1916, girl, yellow dress, rectangular, 19 by 8 1/2 inches, $120.
Doorknocker, cast iron, shaped like ship, sail masts, 1929, 9 1/2 inches, $165.
Baccarat crystal ice bucket, faceted rim, indented center band, vertically paneled tapering sides, 9 by 7 1/2 inches, $185.
Silver-plate coaster, wine bottle, reticulated lion mask, gadrooned, England, about 1860, 5 by 7 1/2 inches, 4 pieces, $405.
Ideal doll, Mary Hartline, hard plastic, blonde wig, red marching uniform, batons, hair curlers, box, 16 inches, $450.
Jewelry, cocktail ring, 18K yellow gold, square emerald, star, diamonds, about 1940, size 7, $720.