Finger bowls were needed after big, greasy meals Market Value: Fashionable Victorians wanted to wash their hands when they finished dinner.


March 24, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES

When were finger bowls used?

After dinner. The bowls were at the height of fashion in the 1880s. Victorian formal dinners frequently included greasy food. The diners found that their fingers needed to be cleaned after dinner. Finger bowls are still used, although usually not in individual homes. Many fine restaurants use them.

I have a bird-in-cage clock marked "J. Kaiser G.m.b.H." on the bottom. Where it was made?

Joseph Kaiser was a clockmaker in Villingen, Germany, between 1898 and 1909. The initials "G.m.b.H." stand for words that translate as "corporation with limited liability."

When were Cordey figurines made?

The Cordey China Co. made figurines from 1942 to about 1950 in Trenton, N.J. Most of the figurines were attractive women with 1940s heads and 18th-century costumes. Each figure was hand-decorated with porcelain lace and flowers. The company also made cigarette boxes, vases, cups, saucers and plaques. Pieces usually were marked with the name "Cordey."

The Cordey China Co. stopped making figurines and began making religious figures and lamp bases.

My grandfather left me a carved wooden figure that looks like a hobo leaning against a lamppost. It plays a tune that I don't recognize. The bottom is marked with a bird and the initials "K.G." Is it an antique?

Probably not. Karl Griesbaum started his workshop in Triberg, Germany, in 1905. At first he carved singing-bird boxes, then graduated to whistling figures in the 1920s. You probably have one of the four versions of his Whistling Tramp figures. They were made and sold as recently as 1970. They originally sold for about $140 each. Today, in fine condition, they bring $500.

I have the 1941 Esquire calendar of Varga girls. I think it's the first. Is it valuable?

Alberto Vargas, who signed his pinup girl pictures with the name "Varga," is one of the most popular illustrators with collectors. He worked from 1920 through 1974.

The 1941 Esquire magazine calendar was indeed the first featuring his illustrations. It is worth more than $100.

Magazines with Varga centerfolds sell for $3 to $100, depending on condition.

Pub Date: 3/24/96

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