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Antiques & Collecting: Bottles, jars are popular collectibles

By Terry and Kim Kovel

Bottle collecting has been an important pastime since the end of the 19th century, when the first bottle seekers dug up examples in old privy pits, the town dump or a rocky seacoast area. Most sought after were historic flasks made in New England glassworks.

As flasks got more expensive, collectors searched for other bottles — bitters, inks, mineral water, pickle, snuff, whiskey, wine, food storage and canning jars, and commercial perfume bottles. The first machine-made bottles were made in 1905. By 1920, most bottles were being made by automatic machines, including modern product bottles like those for Coca-Cola and Avon. Each of these specialties attracted not only collectors but also researchers, writers and clubs.

This very light-blue canning jar with a lid is easy to identify even though it is rare. Like most, it has a name in raised glass that is formed in the mold. It says “Gilberds Improved Jar” around a five-point star. On the bottom are the words “Patd Jan 30, 1883 / Jamestown, N.Y.” It probably was made by the Findley Ohio Bottle Co. (1888-1893) for the Gilberd’s Butter Tub Co. of Jamestown, New York. It sold at a Glass Works auction for $188.

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Q: I’m trying to figure out if my china is worth anything. I have a set of dishes marked “Noritake, Bone China” above what looks like an Aladdin’s lamp and a wreath. Can you please help?

A: Noritake porcelain was made in Japan by Nippon Toki Kaisha after 1904, and Noritake china is still being made. The lamp-and-wreath mark was used on bone china from 1967 to 1979. Noritake pieces sell from under $5 to over $100. Some patterns are more collectible than others and sell well. Old and rare patterns usually sell for more than newer patterns. You can check Kovels.com/prices or online sellers to see what pieces like yours are selling for.

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Q: I have greeting cards, vintage cards and vintage postcards from all over the world. Many date back to the 1940s. They were my mother’s, and it breaks my heart to throw them away. They are all in good condition in boxes. Perhaps I could give them to a charity or try to sell them?

A: With that many cards, it would be difficult to sell them yourself. You would have to look up prices so you know what to charge, advertise the cards, pack and ship them, and set up a system to take the money. It’s easier to offer the entire collection to a dealer or an auction that sells vintage postcards and greeting cards at shows or online. The dealers will know what they can get for the cards and where to find buyers and will handle shipping and payment. Be sure to ask how much they charge for the services. They may offer to buy the entire collection outright or take just a few cards.

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Q: Is a sheet of 12 stamps from Guyana picturing Babe Ruth worth anything? Each stamp has a different picture of him, and reads “Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Babe Ruth’s Birth — Feb. 6, 1985 — Baltimore, Md.” on the bottom of the sheet. I’d like to sell them.

A: Babe Ruth played baseball for the Boston Red Sox from 1914 to 1919, the New York Yankees from 1920 to 1934 and the Boston Braves in 1935. Some consider him to be the best baseball player of all time. Stamps honoring The Babe have been issued in several foreign countries and the United States. Stamp collecting is a specialized field. Stamps should be examined by a stamp dealer or an auction gallery. Price depends on rarity, condition and demand. The set you have is not rare and sells online for under $5.

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