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Easter bunny arrived with German settlers

Easter bunnies are older than you think. They were part of pre-Christian fertility stories, and since rabbits are known to have many, many babies, they are symbols of new life in the spring.

They first became the symbol of Easter in Germany in the 1500s. But it took until the 1800s before edible Easter bunnies in the form of sugared pastries became part of the celebration.

The bunny came to America with some settlers from Germany who immigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1700s. The "Oschter Haws" (Easter Bunny) was popular with children who were told that if they were good, they would find a nest of colored eggs left by the bunny. The children made a nest using a hat and hoped for some eggs. The nest later became an Easter basket.

Easter celebrations in the 19th century, especially in Germany, included all sorts of rabbits and bunnies. Stuffed toys were popular, along with carved wooden toys, candy containers, iron doorstops, mechanical walking rabbits and even automatons in the form of fur-covered bunnies holding Easter baskets. Many collectors search for vintage pieces made for a specific holiday. Most popular is Christmas, then Halloween, then the Fourth of July or Easter.

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>Q: Many fortunate baby boomers are inheriting their relatives' tea sets, but there seems to be no practical use for them. My question is, are they worth more than their weight in silver? It was purchased 65 years ago in Mexico and is marked "PG Sterling Mexico." The handles on the lids are 3-D figures of dogs. The teapots, creamer and sugar are modern-looking flattened globes.

A: Your silver was made at Platerk Guadalajare in Guadalajara, Mexico. A modern-looking set with unusual trim like yours should sell for more than the meltdown value. But selling any silverware or silver jewelry is very tricky today. Dealers go to auctions and sales with a small scale to check meltdown value.

Coin silver items, especially thin spoons, are not popular, so many are melted. Sets of silver knives, forks and spoons must be complete to sell. That means eight or 12 of each item. Only Georg Jensen and Tiffany partial sets seem to sell. But Mexican silver, handmade American silver of the past 75 years, Danish silver and some English silver sell as art.

Because the cost of the metal has gone up so much in the past year, the value of your tea set has gone up. Even if you sell it for scrap, you will make a profit.

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Tip

A miniature painting should not be washed. Most miniatures are painted on ivory, and the paint will wash off.

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