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Hooked rugs were first made in the 1700s in the American Colonies, but few remain that date to before the 1850s.

Early rugs were hooked on burlap that had first been a sugar or grain bag. Some backings were several bags stitched together, and it was the backing that determined the size and shape of the rug.

A design was sketched on the burlap, then loops of cloth strips or heavy yarn were pulled through the backing.

The strips of cloth used on early rugs were colored with vegetable dyes that faded.

Burlap with a rug design traced in place was sold by Edward Sands Frost after the Civil War. He eventually stenciled the designs in color, making it even easier for a housewife to make a rug. Frost rug patterns were still being sold after 1900.

The early, housewife-designed rugs are the most sought-after today, but any old hooked rug in usable condition is wanted by collectors.

Advertising doll

Q: My 13-inch boy doll is dressed in a blue shirt, denim overalls and a denim cap with a brim. The cap has a "Lee" label on the front. Who made it? When?

A: Check the back of your doll's body. If it's marked "Buddy Lee," it's an advertising doll for Lee jeans. Buddy Lee was introduced in 1920 by the H.D. Lee Co. of Kansas City, Mo. Your doll is wearing a Lee railroad-engineer outfit. Buddy Lee dolls were made of composition until 1948. After that, the dolls were hard plastic until production stopped in 1962. A Buddy Lee doll, no matter what his age, is worth about $500 if he's in excellent condition and wearing original clothes, including his cap.

Write to Kovels in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.

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