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AS THE CLOCK TICKS, A MYSTERY IS REVEALED

Mention the word clock, and most people picture a round or rectangular clock face, two hands and some type of decorative case.

Early clocks had these parts because the mechanism required it. By the 19th century, however, inventors had created new ways to measure time. The pendulum that kept the hands moving was replaced by a key-wound mechanism or electricity. Designers tried to make timepieces that were decorative and unusual. Chimes were added, dials were decorated, statues decorated the cases.

"Mystery" clocks became popular in the mid-1900s. A statue of a woman holding a pendulum decorated the top of a box-shaped clock case, but there seemed to be no way to explain how the pendulum moved the clock hands. Another mystery clock was made of clear glass with no obvious mechanism to run it. One type of mystery clock featured a globe that rotated around the hands instead of a clock face that had hands that moved. Another style clock had a statue of a woman holding a round clock above a swinging pendulum. At first it appears to be a decorative figure, but careful examination shows that the clock is run by a watch movement that makes the pendulum swing for at least a week at a time. Collectors pay premium prices for novelty or mystery clocks.

A Shirley Temple doll

Q: I received a Shirley Temple doll when I was 10 years old. I am now 70. The doll was my treasure, and I never played with her. She has been wrapped in a blanket and tucked in my cedar chest all these years. What is she worth?

A: Your doll could be from the first series of Shirley Temple dolls made by the Ideal Novelty & Toy Co. between 1934 and 1939. You don't describe your doll or tell us what size she is. Ideal's 1930s Shirley Temple dolls were made in several sizes, between 11 and 27 inches. The company also manufactured a Baby Shirley. The value of a doll that has never been played with depends on her size, costume, tags and rarity. Some sizes and outfits are rarer than others. A recent auction of mint 1930s Shirley Temple dolls sold for prices ranging from $1,300 to $2,500.

Dating Dragonware

Q: I collect Dragonware. I have been told that it is still being made. How can I tell the old from the new?

A: Dragonware is a form of Moriage pottery. It has raised, white designs that are applied to a colored pottery piece. One way to determine the age is by the appearance of the dragon. Early dragons have well-defined scales and wings. The new pieces have dragons that are flatter and have less detail. The pottery was often unmarked. The marks "Occupied Japan," "Nippon" or "Made in Japan" can help to date a piece. Newer pieces, from the 1990s, often had paper labels. From about 1890 to 1910, pieces were made by Noritake and others. The colors were bright from the 1930s to 1960s, and the pieces had flatter dragons. Many were marked "Made in Occupied Japan." Dragonware made after the 1960s seems to have background colors that are duller.

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