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Antiques: Endangered species laws can be confusing

New endangered species laws are trying to protect animals that could disappear from the earth if poaching and killing is not stopped. Sometimes it is just a horn or a tusk that is wanted, but to get it, the animal must be killed. A look at some of the antiques that now can’t be sold legally illustrates the problem. While few would object to the laws that cover living animals, there is controversy about objecting to the sale of ivory, horn or feathers taken from animals more than 50 years ago when there was no scarcity of the animals. Whale oil was a useful source of light, and whale meat was a popular food. Baby seals and tigers had fur that made attractive, warm coats. An elephant tusk or rhinoceros horn was used to make carved cups and decorative pieces. And eagle feathers were needed by Indians for religious ceremonies. Because some states have passed laws saying no ivory of any age can be legally sold, it has become a confusing market for collectors. Be sure to check the laws the day before you try to sell any parts of an endangered species. Many states are considering laws, some that will exempt piano keys and guitar picks, and others that will confiscate your piece and destroy it. In 2014, Garth’s Auctions in Delaware, Ohio, sold a wine caddy made in the early 20th century from the hoof of a rhinoceros. It brought $1,800. Today it probably would be impossible to sell in many states.


Q: We’re cleaning out my father’s house and found a Windsor rocking chair with the label “Crocker Chair Company, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.” We’re wondering if it’s an antique. What is it worth?

A: Silas Crocker was one of the owners of the first furniture factory in Sheboygan. He and a partner established a factory in a converted hotel in 1865. The factory burned down in 1875. Crocker bought a carriage company in 1880 and made chairs, stools, tables, china cabinets and other furniture. In 1924 the company was reorganized. It sold furniture for hotels, offices and schools. Crocker Chair Co. was closed by 1932. Your Crocker rocker is worth $100 to $200.


Tip: Carbon steel blades used in silver table knives sometimes get rust spots. If you rub the blades with a bit of beeswax lip balm, you can clear up spots and prevent new ones. The beeswax is edible.

Write to the Kovels, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.