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Antiques By Terry and Kim Kovel

Collecting is not a new hobby - there were cavemen and even birds that saw unusual or attractive items and took them “home” to save. Ancient Romans collected coins and pottery and one emperor had a bedroom filled with treasures from Greece. By the time of the Renaissance, there were “wonder cabinets,” and the rich and the royal had galleries to display their paintings and statuary. Collectors from every century have had problems of storage, display and inventory records. During the 18th century, European and American collectibles like coins, mineral specimens and small pieces of pottery and glass were displayed in a large piece of wooden furniture, usually a combination bookcase and cabinet. It had both shelves and special shallow drawers, divided into small sections. A southern auction house recently sold a Federal carved mahogany piece of antique furniture with shelves in the top section, and a writing desk over specimen drawers below. Doors with panes of glass cover the upper shelves and wooden doors hide the lower section’s storage. It was made in Philadelphia in 1807. The piece is 93 inches high, so it can just fit under the average 8-foot-high ceiling if there is no carpet on the floor. Estimated at $3,000 to $5,000, it sold for $5,490.

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Q: I have a stereopticon marked “Pat’d September 28, 1897.” I also have 21 picture cards that go with it, including “The President & Mrs. McKinley, Twentieth Century Series.” The series includes several pictures taken in 1899. I’d like to know the value of these items.

A: The Whiting View Co. of Cincinnati published a series of stereo cards called “The Twentieth Century Series” around 1901. Stereo cards were made for viewing in stereoscopes. People often confuse stereoscopes with stereopticons. Stereopticons, sometimes called magic lanterns, were first made about 1850. A stereopticon has two lenses and uses glass slides to project images. A stereoscope is a viewer for stereo cards that uses two images to produce a single three-dimensional picture. If you are viewing the image cards through your device, you have a stereoscope. Stereoscopes were first made in 1838. Stereo cards were usually purchased by the set. A stereoscope with the patent date of September 28, 1897, and five cards sold online for $125. Stereo cards alone sell for $10 to $25, depending on the subject. Your card set was popular, and many sets still exist.

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Tip: Don’t eat off antique pewter plates. Some have a high lead content, and continuous use and scratches on the surface releases bits of poisonous lead. Also, avoid using pewter for food preparation. New pewter usually is safe, but be sure to check on the lead content.