German dressmaker Margarete Steiff made her first bear in 1884.
Learn how your china stacks up to the competition for bigger payoff.
Tip: Items expressly made to be collectible will never have significant value
Also, a very old toy train set sells for big money.
Q: My dad gave me these seven plates and I just keep them boxed. Can you tell me anything about them?
Q: This candy dish has always been in my family. It was a gift to my great-grandmother and has been handed down for generations. At the top is written in white, “My wife 1909.” I cannot determine origin and history. Can you tell me anything about it?
Q: What can you tell me about these plates that I found at a thrift shop? Are they worth anything?
Q: This chair from Pennsylvania is over 100 years old. My 86-year-old friend would like to know about it. It belonged to her husband’s grandmother.
Q: What can you tell us about this platter? The family story is that it was found hidden in the wall of a Baltimore hotel that was under demolition, and that it was put there to save it during the Civil War. My grandfather got it between 1920-1935.
Q: What can you tell me about this beautiful pen? Engraved on its point is “Aikin Lambert No. 5.”
Q: We have an 80-piece set of Wallace Sterling flatware in the Grande Baroque pattern, bought in 1957. We found the quality of the set is superior to pieces sold today. What is the value of our set?
Q: I’m intrigued by your column, where I’ve learned that items around the house may be more valuable than we thought. This box has been in the family for more than 60 years. Any info?
Q: What is current value on my two limited-edition phrenology pieces by Boehm?
Q: While cleaning out a storage room, I found these two lamps. Both are dirty; they were sitting in there for years. One of the icicles is missing and another has the tip broken off. Do the lamps have any value?
Q: How do I find value of my complete set of “100 Great Events of the 20th Century?” There are 100 coins plus their display box.
Q: I inherited this painting. It’s not signed, but it’s been in my family since the 1920s. The only thing I know about it is that it may have a California connection. Can you ID the artist and its value?
Q: I was given these two chairs and I know nothing about them. One has a small brass plate on the seat underside, reading “Pittsburgh.” Any info?
Q: Dealing with my mother-in-law’s estate, I found one antique ladies shoe, a child’s shoe, and two hooks. People tell me these are museum pieces. Any info on history and value? Who would be interested in having them?
Q: I recently inherited a squash blossom set from the 1920s. I don’t know a thing about it, but I want to sell. Who would buy it?
Sent along with the query were several images of what appears to be a fancy ceramic liquor decanter with a decorative stopper. The bulbous jug has a small raised spout plus handle. The mug is a column with a handle. Both pieces are painted with a design of corncobs, kernels intact, on a dark…
Q: Attached are images of pieces from two tea sets. One set, a wedding gift in the early 1930s, is Asian. Another is gold-plated from Italy and was a gift around the 1960s. Do either have any value other than sentimental?
Q: What can you tell me about a treasure I’ve had for a while? It’s a carved elephant tusk about 26 inches long. It was made for Kate Smith.
QUESTION: What is the value of our silver service? It came from an estate sale in New York City. You can see that the service came from Vietnam. We think it’s heavy silver plate, not sterling. How can we sell it?
Q: I inherited pottery that’s part of a valuable collection. It has been in storage for years; it is too valuable to keep and I don’t want to display it in my home. How can I sell? Will selling be a problem, as the pieces were part of a collection?
Q: I inherited this vase from my mother but know nothing about it. Here are images, including the Japanese signature on the bottom. Info?
Q: I have the stretcher used to pick up the body of James Dean. I’m good friends with the director of the funeral home that did the job. I also have the tools used to prepare Dean for burial. Kind of morbid, but do these items have any value?
Q: We have two large museum-mounted ink etchings by Jose Miguel Pardo of Spain. In the late 1980s, he was the most sought after surrealist artist; his paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars. I have little knowledge of the art market. How can I sell them?
Q: We received these Chinese silver spoons from an antique dealer as a wedding gift years ago. We were told that they are 19th century, from the Shen Xing dynasty. What is their value today?
Q: My grandfather bought this work by Charles Pont some time ago. It was signed by the artist in 1933 and is still in its original frame. How do I determine present value and how can I sell it? I understand that Depression art is hot now. Is that actually true?
Q: Any info on value for this Wedgwood basalt tea set left to me by a relative? If it is valuable, I want to sell.
Q: These vases have been in the family for years, but I know nothing about them. Any info on their origin and age?
Q: Can you tell me about these two Yoshitoku dolls my grandparents bought for us around 1982?
Q: My 82-year-old aunt has had these pink glass pieces for years. Any info on history and values? Are they collectibles?
Q: I recently came across this commemorative coin for the presidential election of 1864. The image of George McClellan is on one side; his running mate, George Pendleton, is on the other. Value? Is value more significant now that the anniversary of the election is approaching?
Q: We think the date on our paperweight is really great. Can you tell us anything about it?
Q: My husband found this while relic hunting. Can you ID it? It was found near Civil War, Revolutionary War and similar items.
Q: What is today’s value on my doll? She’s in good shape; there are no chips on her bisque head and there has been very little restoration. She has only a petticoat, but I have old material that could be used for clothing.
Q: I want to find out how much a walrus tusk scrimshawed by (name omitted) is worth. The tusk is 19 inches long.
Q: How can I tell if a cast-iron doorstop is old/antique or not? Some of the ones I own have a number and say “Hubley.” Some are painted and some are a little rusty. How do I determine value?
Q: Any info on my gas coin? It’s marked “Johnson Gasolene” and “Century of Progress, Chicago, IL.”
Q: Attached is the image of an old dresser that’s been in our family for a long time. My husband has not let me refinish it because it might have some value. It still has original drawer pulls and roller feet. I’ve refinished pieces before and really enjoy doing this. Your opinion?
Q: I’ve done Internet searches but cannot find any info on my two unopened cans of Chesterfield cigarettes from the 1950s.
Q: Several years ago, a friend gave me a lamp base marked on the underside, “Tiffany Studios New York, 629.” Written in black are, “F616 TTW” and the letter “M” in a circle.
Q: We’ve tried researching our antique cigar cutter online but cannot find any information. When you push down on a lever, a match flips up.
Q: Any info on my paintings signed Faleinell? Each is about 2 by 3 inches plus the frame. I'd like to know something about the artist, when they were painted, and value.
Q: My late father's estate includes 64 pieces of George Nakashima furniture. We have original correspondence between George N. and my father concerning the creation of one item.
Q: Are these paintings by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) of any value?
Q: Any info on my vase marked, "Made in Japan"? It seems to be clay and is 11 1/2 inches tall. Note that the surface is not smooth.
Q: My mother bought this folding bed in the 1970s. It's marked "Bednet," but I can't find any info online. Is it a Murphy bed?
Q: Any info on this antique lamp I bought at an estate sale? There was no information furnished with it. I thought it was pretty. It's 27 inches tall, not including the chimney.