Today, it's a status symbol to have an in-home wine cellar with bottles of carefully selected wine stored in racks in a room kept at the proper temperature. To go with that wine cellar a collector must also have the proper glasses, vintage corkscrews, aerators, bottle stoppers, tools and, of course, a decanter.
But collectors of decanters are often not interested in wine, just in the many bottles and containers that are used to decant wine. Open a bottle, pour the contents into the decanter, let the sediment settle, then serve the wine. For centuries decanters have been glass bottles with long necks, but by the end of the 19th century, figural glass or pottery decanters became popular.
Recent auctions have sold glass decanters with silver tops that are shaped like Bacchus, early musicians, dogs, waiters and even a walrus. Glass decanters shaped like large fish have been made since the 1900s.
Royal Doulton made a decanter shaped like a mysterious man in a clock for Sandeman products. And some modern liquor companies make figural decanters today for colleges and special events. A walrus-shaped decanter with gilt brass trim sold recently at a Neal auction in New Orleans for $1,434.
Q: I inherited my great-grandmother's Norwegian spinning wheel. The letters "TAD" are carved on the side and the date "1816" is painted on in black. The wheel is 22 inches in diameter and has 16 carved spokes. My great-grandparents brought it with them when they emigrated from Norway. It continues to sit around and get dusty. Is it worth anything?
A: Spinning wheels date back to medieval times, but most found today are 100 to 200 years old. There are several different types. The most common is the Saxony Wheel, which has the wheel at one end and the flyer at the other end and usually has three legs. It's the traditional wheel pictured in fairy tales. A Norwegian Wheel is a horizontal wheel similar to the Saxony. It may have three or four legs and is often ornately carved. The Castle Wheel is a vertical spinning wheel with the flyer above the wheel. The letters "TAD" could be the maker or the initials of the person it was made for. The date and provenance make your spinning wheel interesting. Most spinning wheels sell for $100 to $250. They often are bought to use.
Q: I'd like to know how to sell Hummel figurines. I inherited 24 figurines from my mother. Some still have the price stickers on them. Are they worth anything, and if so, how do I market them?
A: Hummel figurines aren't as popular as they were years ago. As the older generation of collectors have died, large collections are coming on the market. Heirs are finding they are hard to sell and prices have dropped. Although some rare figurines still sell at auctions for high prices (one sold for over $900), most are sold in groups, with prices as low as $5 or $10 per figurine. The older figurines bring better prices. Age can be determined by the trademark on the bottom of the figurine.
Howdy Doody windup
Q: We have a Howdy Doody windup band made by Unique Art in 1950. Buffalo Bob moves back and forth at the piano and Howdy Doody is standing up and dancing. What is it worth?
A: The Howdy Doody windup band originally came in a box labeled "Doin' the Howdy Doody." Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob were characters in a children's TV series that originally ran from 1947 to 1960. The series became popular with college students in the late 1970s when Buffalo Bob began to lecture on campuses. The "New Howdy Doody Show" was produced from 1976 to 1977. This tin lithographed toy was made during the original series. The toy in good condition and in its original box sold for $741 at a recent auction. One without the box sold for $420.
Zenith tube radio
Q: In 1954, my mother bought a new home and had furniture custom made. My bedroom dresser and desk was light wood with a white leather-like front and gold drawer handles. I had a Zenith tube radio that had a light wood case and a white front that matched the furniture. I don't have the furniture any more, but I do have the radio (still works!) and would like to sell it. I'm wondering where I could sell it and what it's worth.
A: It's too bad you don't still have your furniture, because the fifties look is "in." The blond wood and sleek lines of furniture and accessories made in the 1950s and '60s are experiencing renewed popularity today, particularly with young collectors, and prices are up. Your Zenith High Fidelity tube radio fits in with the "look" and is worth $85 to $140.
Q: I have a Reed & Barton sterling silver butterfly whistle pendant and chain my mother gave me. It's in a yellow felt pouch that reads "Butterfly whistle, Reed & Barton sterling" in red letters. I also have the original square white box. What is this worth?
A: Reed & Barton made this butterfly whistle-pendant in the early 1970s. The company also made an owl whistle-pendant and an Irish shamrock "good luck" whistle-pendant. Butterfly whistle-pendants without the packaging have sold online for about $30-$40, although sellers with the packaging ask, but don't often get, up to $200.
Tip: Never touch the surface of a daguerreotype or an ambrotype. The perspiration will stain the image.
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.
Baseball pen and pencil, bat shape, faux signature, Johnny Mize and Joe DiMaggio, Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville Slugger logo, 1940s, 5 inches, two pieces, $30.
Toothpick holder, elephant toes pattern, clear glass, gold, U S Glass Co., $35.
Parade staff, wood, carving, multicolor paint, about 1905, 77 1/2 inches, pair, $180.
Razor, ivory handle, leather case, Joseph Rodgers & Sons, about 1850, $210.
Animal trophy, hippopotamus, shoulder mount, Mozambique, 20th century, 41 by 50 inches, $570.
Cuff bracelet, pierced stylized hunting figures, Mexico, about 1955, 2 3/8 inches, $625.
Candlestand, tiger maple, about 1850, 27 by 21 inches, $625.
Limoges plaque, woman's profile, lace bonnet, dress trim, enameled, round, giltwood frame, P. Bonnaud, about 1907, $685.
Sheraton table, bird's-eye, tiger maple, two graduated drawers, turned legs, about 1810, 18 by 28 inches, $690.
Humidor, monkey head shape, hat lid, bow tie pipe holders, multicolor, pottery, 1800s, 8 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches, $715.
Tiffany silver knife, Chrysanthemum pattern, marked, 1900s, 9 1/8 inches, 10 pieces, $815.
Cane, wooden, ivory skull handle, 36 inches, $960.
Trade stimulator, roulette wheel, official sweepstakes horse race, Rock-ola, 1 cent, about 1933, $1,320.
Toy airplane, "America," stars in circles, tri-motor, open cockpit, pilots, cast iron, aluminum, pull toy, Hubley, about 1950, 17 by 13 inches, $2,960.