Q: We've inherited about 250 sets of salt and pepper shakers. How can we find out information regarding such novelty items and who can tell us more about the sets and their values?
A: There's a surge of interest in collecting novelty-type salt and pepper shakers. Such shakers have been produced in various shapes, sizes and materials and represent countless subject matters: people, structures, animals, birds, insects, food, vehicles, household items and objects, clothes, tools and everything else from states (such as the 50 produced by Parkcraft) to sports sets made to represent baseball, football, golf, hockey, boxing and even bowling.
Write Lois and Ralph Behm's shop, Lois' Collectibles, at the Antique Market III, 413 W. Main St., St. Charles, Ill. 60174, or phone (708) 377-5599 or (708) 831-5997. The Behms buy and sell shakers.
Countless sets also can be found pictured, described and priced in "Salt & Pepper Shakers, Identification & Values -- Book I," by Helene Guarnaccia, $11.95 postpaid, and her "Salt & Pepper Shakers, Identification & Values -- Book II," $16.95 postpaid, plus the "Collector's Encyclopedia of Figural and Novelty Salt and Pepper Shakers -- First Series" and the "Collectors Encyclopedia of Figural and Novelty Salt and Pepper Shakers -- Second Series," by Melva Davern, $21.95 postpaid for one or $42.15 postpaid for both, all available from Collector Books, Box 3009, Paducah, Ky., 42002-3009; phone (800) 626-5420.
Collectors of salt and pepper sets belong to various clubs, including the National Novelty Salt & Pepper Club, which offers an annual membership and quarterly newsletter for $20 from Irene Thornburg, 581 Joy Road, Battle Creek, Mich. 49017.
Q: My mother collects thimbles and would like to know how to contact other collectors.
A: Thimble collectors can be contacted through the Thimble Collectors International, which offers an annual membership and quarterly bulletin along with a booklet, "Sewing Notions in War," by Christina Bertrand, for $15 from membership chairman Dickey Everson, 1 Lake Place, Branford, Conn. 06405. Or send an addressed, stamped envelope for specific information. To check out old, odd or antique thimbles and especially those with secret compartments, write to collector Dorothy Friend, in care of Thimble Collectors International, 6411 Montego Bay Road, Louisville, Ky. 40228. Enclose a stamp.
Q: Does anyone collect butter pat plates? If so, can you put me in touch with such a collector? I have some I'd like to dispose of.
A: Collectors of such tiny plates designed to hold just a bit of butter can be found listed in the Butter Pat Collectors Newsletter, 5955 S.W. 179th Ave., Beaverton, Ore. 97007. A business-size addressed, stamped envelope is required for further information or a reply regarding collectors and buyers.
Q: How can I go about finding a way to sell my Precious Moments collection?
A: You'll find collectors, sources, clubs, dealers and lovers of such darling and too-precious-for-words figurines and ornaments in the quarterly magazine Precious Collectibles, available for $19.50 a year from Rosie Wells Enterprises Inc., R.R. No. 1, Canton, Ill. 61520. Phone (309) 668-2565 for ad rates or information. Also available from the same address for $15.95 is the 1991 eighth edition of "Precious Collectibles Official Secondary Market Price Guide," which lists the various pieces along with their current values.
Q: Where might I find information on Larkin Soap Co. premiums such as china?
A: Two good reference books loaded with catalog reprints, information and identifications of such items are "Larkin China," by Walt Ayars ($18.95 postpaid), which covers detailed descriptions for more than 1,000 illustrations of Buffalo Pottery and Noritake, Limoges, Fiesta, Aster, Blue Bird and other china, and "Larkin Oak," which includes more than 900 illustrations of oak furnishings distributed by Larkin ($16.50 postpaid), both available from Echo Publishing, Box 279, 307 Third St., Summerdale, Pa. 17093. The books also contain the history of the Larkin company and include dates for the various items pictured.
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.