Did you have a bowl filled with pet fish when you were young?
The idea dates back to the Roman Empire, when carp were kept in marble tanks. Once panes of glass were made, a pane could be used on one side of the tank so people could watch the activities of the fish.
The Chinese were making large porcelain tubs for goldfish by the 1400s. Copies of these tubs are still being made and sold, although they are usually used for plants, not fish. By the 19th century, there were aquariums and fish bowls that look like those found today.
Raising fish became an important hobby, and the first public aquarium opened in 1853. By 1900 there were aquariums and fish bowls made in fanciful shapes, and some were even part of a planter or lamp. It is said that keeping fish is one of America's most popular hobbies. So when a fishbowl topped by three ceramic polar bears was auctioned at Humler & Nolan in Cincinnati, it's not surprising that it sold for $2,540. The fish bowl is cleverly designed. A porcelain "basket" holds an ice cave (the bowl). It's topped by the bears, and openings show the bowl and active fish. It's about 24 inches high and 15 inches in diameter, big enough to hold a few fish and plants. The bowl is lit from below. The maker is unknown, but it's signed "Makonicka." The bears and ice are designed in a style popular after 1890.
>Q: I want to leave my collection of Hummel figurines to my 14-year-old great-granddaughter. How should I store them?
A: Hummel figurines are based on the drawings of the nun M.I. "Berta" Hummel. They were first made in 1935 by the W. Goebel Porcelain Co. of Oeslau (now part of Rodental), Germany. The figurines are made of earthenware. Parts that aren't glazed will absorb moisture, so they need to be stored in a dry place. Don't store them in the basement, which often is damp, or in the attic, where they would be subject to extreme temperature changes. You can wrap the figurines in plain archival paper, white tissue paper or pieces of white bedsheets and pack them carefully in a box with bunches of tissue paper between them to prevent them from bumping each other when the box is moved. Don't wrap them in newspaper. Newsprint may stain the figurines. Don't wrap them in colored paper or plastic, either. The best way to store them is in their original boxes.
If you buy an old teddy bear at a garage sale, put it in a plastic bag with some mothballs for a few weeks. Don't let the mothballs touch the bear. Old bears attract many types of hungry insects.