Treasure Hunt 21/10/28

Dear Donna,

If you could help me identify what this piece of furniture is, I’d appreciate it. I thought it might be something to store sewing items as there’s a dowel missing from the top, although the picture doesn’t clearly show it. I would like to sell it but don’t know the value of such a piece.

NH resident

Dear NH resident,

Even though some sewing cabinets could be the same size, what you have is a smoking stand. This is why the inside is lined with copper — to prevent the scent of tobacco from being absorbed into the wood, and as a fire deterrent.

Smoking stands were placed on the side of a chair or sofa, or anywhere one would relax and smoke. Yours looks to be from the 1940s era. The bar across the top could have been used to hang a towel for your hands.

The value in complete original condition would be in the $50 range. Without the original bar, it could be a lot less, and smoking paraphernalia seems not to be of interest to collectors these days, so it may be hard to find a buyer.

Treasure Hunt 21/10/21

Dear Donna,

I was given this many years ago. I love it but have never been able to figure out what it actually is or what it was originally used for! There are no markings on it, but I think it’s brass. It’s 9 inches long, 6 1/2 inches high and 3 1/2 inches wide. I’d really appreciate your thoughts on my little catch-all.


Dear Diane,

At first glance from the photo I thought maybe it was a gravy boat, but after looking more it really couldn’t be. It is definitely silver-plated (silver over a mixed metal). You can see wear inside the dish, down to base metal (possibly brass).

It’s Victorian style (mid to late 1800s) with the north wind face on the side, goose, bird footed and design work. It may have even had a beautiful glass bowl insert at one time.

It is a very sweet catch-all. I think the original with or without a glass insert was a decorative basket. The value would be in the range of $40.

Without marks it is tough to tell when it was made and by whom. So we just have to look at the piece for what it is now to evaluate it.

Treasure Hunt 21/10/14

Dear Donna,

Can you provide me any information on this item? It’s a wood church bank with a slot on the side to insert coins. The bottom has paper that has been torn to reveal a spot to remove the coins. It’s 4 inches by 5 inches and appears to be in great shape. Wouldn’t hold much, though.


Dear Edith,

You kind of answered all your own questions. I’m just going to wrap things up for you.

Your sweet wooden church bank looks to be in great shape. You are right; it wouldn’t hold too much.

Some of these were made in Germany and others in Japan. The age frame is after the 1920s through the 1940s. They fall into a couple collectible categories: one for miniatures and one for banks, and it’s a miniature bank as well.

They were manufactured and have several different printings on them. So there could be more to collect if you’re looking for a fun collection. The value on one like yours in great condition would be in the $30 range.

Treasure Hunt 21/10/07

Dear Donna,

I am trying to figure out this picture postcard. This one and several others similar were among postcards from my gram’s house. Nothing in any looks familiar to me, so my question is, is there a way to find out any information about them?

Anita from Merrimack

Dear Anita,

I can’t know where the postcard photo was taken, but I can try to help by giving you some information. Photo postcards have been around since the early 1900s. Many that are around today were either done professionally or just taken at home and printed on postcard stock. So you can imagine there are many still around today. The value on most is sentimental. Some, though, can be quite valuable depending on the subject.

Common family ones like the one here are of minimal value. I think the only way to find out where and who it was is to show it to as many family members as you can. Hopefully one can give you some information. I always say every old photo should be clear for the next generation as to who and where and when it was taken.

Treasure Hunt 21/09/30

Dear Donna,

Would you know if there is any worth to these Penthouse swizzle strippers? I was cleaning out a house and came across them. I thought they looked interesting and may possibly have value.


Dear Ted,

Wow, and thanks for covering them up! I agree they are interesting.

Your swizzle sticks (drink stirrers) were produced in the 1970s but along with yours many others were made too. So what I found out was they have to be in perfect, not scratched, condition. The clip on the reverse side to hold it onto the glass also has to be there.

Now if all those items are good to go the value is around $5 each. Sometimes interesting is good, and these could make great conversation pieces. Some items are so mass produced, though, and many are still found today, which keeps the values lower.

Treasure Hunt 21/09/23

Dear Donna,

I came across this bag of old clothespins. I believe they were my mother’s. I have no use for them but thought maybe someone would enjoy them. Can you give me a reason not to toss them?


Dear Lynn,

Old clothespins are collectible but I think mostly for decorative reasons. I have also seen them used in many modern craft projects. So I do think that gives you a reason to not throw them away.

The ones you have in the photo would probably be in the $15 range for the bunch. Always be careful, though. If you see one in the mix that has a look you have never seen, it could be an uncommon one and worth more.

Handmade antique clothespins can bring a much higher value to a collector. Common ones like this almost everyone had and used, so there are plenty around for decorating a laundry room or for projects.

Treasure Hunt 21/09/16

Dear Donna,

Can you give me any information on my dog? It was mine when I was growing up so I know it’s old. Any information would be appreciated.


Dear Cynthia,

Your childhood toy is a Cragstan Wacky Dog. It was made in the 1960s in Hong Kong. It is a wind-up toy and should have a key. Once wound up it should have moving parts, eyes, mouth etc. So the original key is an important part, or finding a replacement one would help.

When valuing a toy’s age, rarity and original condition are very important. Even having it in the original box can easily increase the values. So my advice first is to find the key or one that will work to wind it up. If the toy is working I would say the value is in the range of $50 because it looks to be in good condition. The key to its value is the key!

Treasure Hunt 21/09/09

Dear Donna,

Can you help me put a price on these items? They were my mother’s and are just sitting in a cabinet.


Dear Janet,

Pricing Depression glassware can be tough. Each piece, pattern, size, rarity and condition matters. Then you have to consider the market for it at the time as well.

The assortment you sent a photo of are all different patterns, age and colors. What I can tell you from what I see in the photo is a price range of $5 to $10 each. Remember, though, that would have to be with no damage. Cracks, chips, scratches all lower or take away any value.

I am not sure if they still print reference books these days. You used to be able to go into a book store and relax and reference items in a full-color price book. Sometimes this could help you identify each piece and a book value on it. I only recommend this for figuring out what you have. Market prices are always changing and that is what really determines value.

Treasure Hunt 21/09/02

Dear Donna,

I have this antique railroad lantern and was wondering if you could give me an idea on what it would be worth. The lantern says New York Central and the globe says B & A RR, so they don’t match but it seems in pretty good shape. Not sure how much to clean it up.


Dear Judy,

It’s not uncommon to find railroad or other antique lanterns around today.

Railroad lanterns in general are not too hard to find, particularly common ones that were used all the time. I think the globes were replaced often during the period of time used. Your globe is either Boston Albany or Baltimore Annapolis. There are some that are uncommon and rare to find with all the original parts and for specific railways. They can hold a very high value.

The value of yours in the condition it’s in would be in the $50 range. I would leave it as found with maybe a quick Windex wash.

Treasure Hunt 21/08/26

Dear Donna,

I have an old cupboard with one door on the bottom. It seemed to have two doors on the top. The holes where the hardware used to be are now filled nicely. I’m wondering if this would still have any value?


Dear Dennis,

Your cupboard still has a warm, charming appearance. It is unfortunate that the top doors are missing, though it is not that uncommon to find these that way.

Pieces of furniture were often changed over time to fit different needs. What started off in the late 1800s as a storage cupboard could easily have been made into a display cupboard later on.

Sometimes if you’re lucky and the piece stayed in the same family, the top doors could still be around somewhere. Maybe? As is, though, I think the value has to be for an old useful piece of country furniture now, rather than the antique value. I would say the value is in the $250 range for a nice, still useful country cupboard.

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