Q: On my uncle's farm we dug up numerous old bottles where an outhouse once stood. How can we find out more about these bottles and their value? Are there any bottle-related clubs, shows, books or publications we can turn to for help?
A: People who dig up bottles and other buried treasures from outhouse pits and areas belong to the National Privy Diggers Association, which offers an annual membership and newsletter for $10 from Don Dzuro, 3532 Copley Road, Akron, Ohio 44321.
Pictures of bottles and lists of prices, bottle clubs, books and publications are in the "Kovels' Bottle Price List -- Eighth Edition," available for $14.95 postpaid from JO-D Books, 81 Willard Terrace, Stamford, Conn. 06903; phone (203) 322-0568. Bottle dealers and sources are listed in "The Official Price Guide to Bottles -- Third Edition," available for $5.95 postpaid from the House of Collectibles, 201 E. 50th St., New York, N.Y. 10022; phone (800) 733-3000.
Many modern bottles (such as whiskey decanters or figural and miniature liquor types) have special value too, and examples are in "Montague's Modern Bottle and Price Guide -- 3rd Edition," available for $16.70 postpaid from Montague Enterprises, Box 4059, Overland Park, Kan. 66204; phone (913) 722-5020. You can write to H. F. Montague at that address if you wish to buy, sell or have modern figural whiskey or wine bottles appraised; enclose a photo or description of the bottles stating their condition.
To check out the value of miniature liquor bottles, write to Verne Brinker, 836 Tam O'Shanter Circle, Bolingbrook, Ill. 60439, enclosing a description and stamped return envelope; phone (708) 739-4410.
More than 4,000 new and old bottles in 19 categories, including ** Jim Beam, Avon, soda, ink, wine, gin, whiskey, beer and other types, are in the "Bottle Pricing Guide -- Revised Third Edition," by Hugh Cleveland, available for $9.95 postpaid from Collector Books, Box 3009, Paducah, Ky. 42002-3009. Collector Books also publishes the telephone-directory-size "Standard Old Bottle Price Guide," with prices and pictures of thousands of bottles, available for $16.95 postpaid.
Early bottles and flasks of great importance are auctioned periodically by Skinner Inc., 357 Main St., Bolton, Mass. 01740, where you may write for information on future bottle auctions and catalogs; phone (508) 779-6241 for past bottle auction catalogs and corresponding price lists. These illustrated catalogs are a great source of information on antique bottles and their values. A catalog and price list for the 425-lot bottle auction held Oct. 6 is available from Skinner for $14 postpaid.
L Q: I collect frogs. Is there a collector's group I can join?
A: Frog collectors belong to the Frog Pond, Box 193, Beech Grove, Ind. 46107. For membership information and brochures on frog collectibles available through the club, write to the Frog Pond's director, Merelaine Haskett, at the same address. The 1991 Froggy Calendar can be ordered for $11.95 postpaid, and a pewter handcrafted frog pin or tie tack is $7.50 postpaid.
Q: I have all kinds of plastic novelty items saved over the years. Do they have any value?
A: You might want to consult the "Price Guide to Plastic Collectibles," by Lyndi Steward McNulty, available for $20.45 postpaid from Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 1 Chilton Way, Radnor, Pa. 19089; phone (800) 345-1214.
Q: Who can tell me the value of some old playing cards that belonged to my grandfather?
A: The most collectible cards are poker size, measuring 2 1/2 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches long. If the cards are that size, send photocopies of the cards to playing-card collector Robert Harrison, 2970 Maria Ave., Northbrook, Ill. 60062; phone (708) 291-0880. Decks of cards from world's fairs, the Civil War or railroads, or cards that represent sports, politics, states, cities, organizations or universities are very desirable and should be checked for their value.
Q: Where can I find information on the value of an antique magic lantern that has been in the family for years?
A: Write to Natalie Kattelle at the Movie Machine Society, 50 Old County Road, Hudson, Mass. 01749. Enclose a photo of the piece and a description.
Anita Gold can be reached by writing Anita Gold, Maryland Living, The Sun, Baltimore 21278. Selected questions will appear in her column. The volume of mail makes individual replies impossible. When writing sources listed in this column, enclose an addressed, stamped envelope for replies.