True Stem Ware Through Ages


Cut flowers have been arranged and displayed since the days of ancient Egypt. Each era has witnessed arrangements designed to blend with other household decorations. Bowls, urns, bottles and vases have been used to hold flowers.

One 18th century container was shaped like a group of leaning vases. It was made to hold two or three long-stemmed flowers in each vase. Epergnes with several hanging baskets were used for displaying smaller flowers and bunches of grapes.

In the 19th century, vases usually were urn-shaped. They were filled with formally arranged groups of mixed flowers, the largest blossoms near the top. Paintings of the late 19th century picture less-formal groups of tall flowers in bowls.

Most of the American art pottery vases were meant for flowers. The traditional tall vase is slightly smaller at the top.

The 1930s saw American arrangements based on Japanese styles, with vases in traditional shapes. A very low bowl to hold very-short-stemmed flowers also was popular.

By the 1950s, vases often were made in irregular shapes that seemed to be sculptures when not holding flowers.

The newest style of flower arrangement is a very-short-stemmed bunch of full-blown roses or other round flowers tightly packed into a container.

Probably the best flower containers for informal homes are old bottles, crocks or teapots.


Question More than 60 years ago, a friend gave me an old souvenir handkerchief. It is 15 inches square with a 2-inch border of red and white stripes. In each corner there is a blue square with 25 white stars. In one corner of the fabric, inside the border, is a picture of Adm. George Dewey, dated May 1, 1898.


Answer You have an "event handkerchief" made in 1898 to commemorate the U.S. victory in the Spanish-American War.

Throughout the 19th century, handkerchiefs and bandannas were made for political campaigns and to celebrate important events.

Silk and cotton handkerchiefs were made to celebrate Dewey's victory in the Battle of Manila Bay. Many of them have the same border design as yours. A handkerchief like yours is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.


Q My small child's cup is decorated with four children wearing old-fashioned clothing. There is a mark on the bottom that I cannot identify. It is a castle with the words "Leuchtenburg, Germany" around it.


A The mark on your cup was used by the C.A. Lehmann & Son porcelain factory, which worked in Kuhla, Thuringia, Germany, from 1895 until about 1935. The mark you describe was used after 1910.


Q I still have my leather-covered transistor radio from the early 1960s, the one I used to hide in my pocket at school so I could listen to baseball games during math class. What's the difference between these radios and the even smaller ones made today?


A The invention of the transistor by Bell Labs in 1947 wasn't recognized as the harbinger of a revolution, but it was. It meant the days of the vacuum tube were over, and the electronic age was upon us.

The Japanese were the first to see potential profit in the transistor. They started making pocket radios such as yours in the mid-1950s.

By the 1960s, the integrated circuit made up of many tiny transistors led to the manufacture of even smaller radios that can run on AA or watch batteries. It also led to the invention of the microprocessor, which led to personal computers and laptops, cellular phones and much more.


Q I am restoring my 1880s house. My wife would like to continue to grow houseplants. What type of plant is correct?


A Many 19th century homes that could be kept warm enough were decorated with plants.

A large 1880s home probably had many pots filled with ferns, palms and other plants.

One popular plant was the kentia palm. In 1869, the director of the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney, Australia, visited the small Lord Howe Island near Australia. He discovered two unknown palms that natives called "thatch palms" because they were used for thatched roofs. They are now known as "kentia palms" or "sentry palms."

For a copy of the Kovels' 1998 leaflet listing 153 books and pamphlets that are price guides for all kinds of collectibles and antiques, send $2 and a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) No. 10 envelope to: Price Guides for Antiques and Collectibles, Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, Ohio 44122.


Current Prices

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.

* Depression glass cream soup bowl, Florentine No. 1 pattern, pink ruffled edge: $30.

* McDonald's employee's paper hat, red and yellow slashed arches, 1950s: $65.

* The Game of Scoop, publish your own newspaper, 1956, by Parker Bros.: $75.

* Pepsi whistle, bakelite, two bottles with Pepsi decal, 1950s, 3 inches: $85.

* Royal Doulton bowl, Oasis in the Desert, 8 inches: $110.

* Vogue Ginnette and outfit, vinyl head, blue sleep eyes, molded lashes, open mouth, five-piece vinyl body, 1956, 8 inches: $175.

* Wrought-iron fence gate, cast finials and shield-shaped label, Cincinnati Iron Fence Co., black and silver paint, latch and hinges, 46 x 31 inches: $365.

* L. & J.G. Stickley open-arm shop rocker, chevroned crest rail, arched apron, five vertical back slats, drop-in seat, 37 x 27 1/2 inches: $800.

* Tiffany & Co., sterling bowl, circular, swirled and fluted, floral and foliate border, 1875-1891, 9 1/4 inches: $925.

* Morgantown water pitcher and four tumblers, pink opaque, 8 inches: $550.

* Steiff plush dog on wheeled base, excelsior-filled white mohair, brown floppy ears, swivel head, long curly tail, circa 1908, 15 inches: $775.

* Copper weather vane, whale figure, hollow body, on stand, 1930, 28 by 36 inches: $1,975.

* Victorian sideboard, walnut, brown marble top, beveled mirror, two shelves, carved back and apple-branch chest, 54 by 90 by 22 inches: $2,200.

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