Antiques & Collecting: Rare Blue John stone vein discovered

Prices for antiques and collectibles are determined by many things that change with time — age, availability, condition, decorative value, fame of maker, artist or past owner, and even who is bidding and if there is a bidding war. Most of these things change with time, so rare Beanie Babies that cost hundreds of dollars for the few years they were in demand are sold today in a dump display for a few dollars.

In the early 18th century, an attractive new stone was found in Treack Cliff Cavern near Derbyshire, England. It was a rare form of the mineral fluorite with bands of purplish-blue or yellow. It came to be called “Blue John.” Matthew Boulton, a famous manufacturer in the 1700s, made many urns and other decorative objects using Blue John. The stone became a symbol of British art and was wanted by the elite. Recently, a new vein of Blue John was found, the fifteenth known, and new jewelry and objects are being made. A pair of antique Blue John and rock crystal obelisks recently auctioned for $2,176.

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Q: I’m clearing my mom’s estate and found a vintage Fiestaware 6-piece relish set with a red base that is in wonderful condition. Can you tell me it’s value?

A: Fiesta was introduced by the Homer Laughlin China Co. in 1936. It was redesigned in 1969, withdrawn in 1973, and reissued again in 1986 in different colors. It is still being made. The 6-piece set includes four relish dishes around a small round dish, all on a circular pottery tray. The tray and inserts came in a variety of solid colors. In some sets, each piece is a different color; other sets are all one color. Most sets sell at auction for $65 to $130. A very rare set of medium green inserts on the red base sold recently for over $7,000.

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Q: I recently came across an old Dr Pepper bottle that has never been opened. It has Dr Pepper in slanted print on the front and “10 2 4” inside a circle at the bottom of the neck. Embossed on the bottom is “LG 58,” “734,” “Contents 6 1/2 fluid oz.,” and “37.” Can you tell me what the numbers mean? I’m interested in knowing when it was made.

A: Dr Pepper soft drink was first served in Waco, Texas, in 1885 and was marketed nationally in 1904. The period after “Dr.” was used on and off in logos, then removed entirely in the 1950s because there was no medical doctor involved. The 10-2-4 marketing for Dr Pepper was introduced in 1926 and stands for “Drink a Bite to Eat at 10, 2 and 4.” The circle represents a clock dial. The letters LG were used by Liberty Glass Co. of Oklahoma with and without a hyphen. Other numbers are bottle mold numbers, date codes and plant codes. Your bottle with a slanted Dr Pepper logo and 10-2-4 in a circle dates from about 1955. Dr Pepper bottles like yours can sell for up to $15.

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Q: I bought a wooden piece from an antiques dealer in Nebraska in the 1970s. He told me a “picker” from the northeast brought it here. It is 59 inches tall and 26 inches wide. It has straight sides, and I was told it has “shoe feet.” The center vertical piece of wood slides up and down, and the circular “cage” pieces turn. A furniture repair person told me it is “museum worthy.” I thought it might be for weaving and I tried contacting a tapestry museum to ask about it but didn’t get an answer or interest. Do you have any suggestions or a value?

A: You have a “squirrel cage” yarn winder, also called a “squirrel cage swift.” It is used to smoothly and quickly wind a skein of yarn onto a weaving bobbin or a ball winder. The skein is placed around the two drums that rotate as the skein unwinds. The shoe feet on your winder add stability as the drums turn. Squirrel cage swifts made in the 18th and 19th centuries start at about $150 at auction. Those made by craftsmen of the Shaker community sell for $700 to $950.

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Q: I have inherited a violin signed “Anton Stradivarius, Cremora, Italy.” It came with a case and legal paperwork! Where is best place to get it appraised?

A: Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) made violins, violas, cellos, guitars, mandolins, harps and bows, but is best known for his violins. There are 244 authentic Stradivarius violins still in existence and documented, although a few have been stolen and their whereabouts are unknown. The violins were made between 1666 and 1737. Thousands of copies have been made. Most date from the early 1900s and are of little value. Take it to a music store or have a professional violinist play your violin to see if it has a concert quality sound. There are also appraisers who are violin experts.

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Tip: Toothpaste and a toothbrush can be used to quickly clean a piece of silver jewelry.

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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, The Journal, New Ulm, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Roseville bean pot, Raymor pattern, lid, elongated handles, 7 1/2 x 16 1/2 inches, $25.

Venetian glass, goblet, double swan stem, cobalt blue, Salviati, 9 1/4 inches, $125.

Candelabrum, bronze, 6-light, geometric swirls, patinated, Art Nouveau, continental, 24 x 2 x 7 inches, $180.

Fountain Pen, Parker, marbleized white resin, 18-karat gold nib, 5 1/2 inches, $240.

Music box, Singing Bird, gilt, yellow, perched on stand, dome cage, 1900, 12 x 7 inches, $270.

Cupboard, walnut, glass doors, interior shelves, pull out, sides, 2 drawers, brass, R. Treat Hogg, 87 x 42 x 21 1/2 inches, $370.

Limoges charger, woman, gentlemen, visiting mother, baby, garden, hand painted, gilt, border, 15 1/2 inches, $425.

Jade group, man, woman, seated, garden, tree, white, brown streaks, 3 3/4 inches, $575.

Toy taxi, Fresh Air, Amos ‘n’ Andy, dog seated, Marx, 5 x 7 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches, $845.

Enamel, plate, horses, rearing, bucking, teal, copper, William Hunt Diedrich, 1925, 7 3/4 inches, $1,000.

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