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Coal hods can double as magazine racks

It's a carrier, a hod, a scuttle, a pail. Whatever it's called, it's a convenient item used to carry coal to a fireplace.

The word "hod" seems to be preferred in England. The term "scuttle" or "carrier" is used in the United States. Coal was used in fireplaces and stoves to provide heat. Some coal carriers were simple metal pails; others looked like pieces of furniture.

They were made with some sort of tipped lip that made it easy to pour out the lumps of coal. It also was used to carry ashes away from the fireplace.

Today the attractive furniturelike coal hods are used as small tables or magazine racks. An Art Nouveau coal hod with inlay sold at a recent Leslie Hindman auction in Chicago for $310.

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Q: I have a very old Frister & Rossman treadle sewing machine and wooden cabinet. I have not cleaned or oiled it, but presumably it could be put in working condition. The machine is rusty and "seized up," and it also needs polishing. You have often said in your columns that items in their original condition have more value. Could you tell me the approximate age of this sewing machine?

A: Frister & Rossmann was founded by Gustav Rossmann and Robert Frister in Berlin, Germany, in 1864.

It was the largest sewing machine manufacturer in Germany in the late 1800s and made millions of sewing machines. The company was sold in 1925 to Gritzner & Kayser, which continued to make sewing machines under the Frister & Rossmann name. Collectors want the early sewing machine models that have gold trim and fancy decorations. It's the condition of the machine and the case that determines value.

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Q: In 1992 I bought a buffet that was at least 50 years old. There's a brass emblem inside a drawer that says, "Henry C. Steul & Sons, Inc., Buffalo, New York." Can you tell me something about the manufacturer?

A: Henry Christian Steul was born in Buffalo in 1859. He and his brother Conrad became partners in a furniture business, Steul Bros., in 1882. Conrad died in 1888 and Henry found another partner, Frank H. Thuman, in 1890. Their business incorporated in 1904 as Steul & Thuman, Inc. The business name changed again in 1920, becoming Henry C. Steul & Sons. So your buffet was made after 1920. Steul & Sons was in business through at least 1937. The company made reproduction furniture, much of it in European Renaissance styles. It concentrated on dining room and bedroom sets. Steul buffets sell for a few hundred dollars.

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