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Reviving wedding cup tradition

The wedding cup that looks like a woman holding a swiveling cup above her head is showing up at modern wedding celebrations. The cup is used for a toast and as a trial for the bride and groom.

According to tradition, the earliest swivel cups were made in about 1450 in Nuremberg, Germany. A wealthy nobleman disapproved of his daughter's choice of a husband, a goldsmith. The father had the goldsmith sent to a dungeon, but the girl became ill and her father finally agreed to a test for her beloved. If the goldsmith could make a chalice that two people could drink from at the same time without spilling a drop, the pair could wed. The goldsmith made the the swiveling cup and they were permitted to marry.

Today the cups are being made again and a newly married couple must drink from the cup at the same time to assure a happy marriage. The lady-shaped cup is turned upside-down and the husband drinks from the skirt, the wife from the small cup that has now swiveled to be right side up. It is a difficult but possible task, and happiness is, of course, assured.

Look for old cups made of silver or glass. Several were offered this year at the Stein Auction Co. for $700 to $2,400. Reproductions can be found online.

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>Q: I own a beautiful Kroehler buffet that belonged to my grandmother. I have never used it, and it's in great shape. Now I would like to sell it. What should I ask for it?

A: Peter E. Kroehler bought the Naperville (Ill.) Lounge Co. in 1902 but didn't name it Kroehler Manufacturing Co. until the early 1910s.

By the 1940s, Kroehler was one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the United States. It struggled through the 1970s and closed its Naperville factory in 1978. Generally, it's a good idea to sell a large piece of furniture locally. So advertise it in your own city. What you can get for it depends on its style, age and condition.

Assuming your buffet dates from the 1930s or '40s, you could try asking $500, but you probably will have to settle for less.

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>Q: We own an old Hires Root Beer countertop barrel dispenser. It's wooden and encircled with six metal hoops. It has one large spigot on the side and two metal signs. The large red sign on the front says, "Drink Hires, It Is Pure." The plain small sign on the back says, "Loaned by The Charles E. Hires Co., Philadelphia, U.S.A., No. 15294." What can you tell me about it?

A: Charles E. Hires (1851-1937) was a Philadelphia pharmacist when he developed his own root beer concoction in the 1870s. Dispensers like yours, as well as ceramic dispensers with pump tops, were used at soda fountains to pour syrup into a glass or mug. Your dispenser probably dates from the first few decades of the 20th century. We have seen similar dispensers for various brands sell for $400-$500. But the value also depends on the condition of your barrel.