Boxes covered with shells, flowers made of feathers, chains made of bottle caps, paintings on dried fungus, stuffed frogs playing musical instruments and many other strange crafts are part of the folk-art collectibles market.
One of the strangest of the folk-art pieces seen at auction recently is a lobster claw with a man's face painted on it. Someone painted the image of a bearded man with a large nose on a huge, dried lobster-claw shell. The 12-inch-long claw-face has a painted cap with red-and-white stripes and a blue band with white stars. The owner said it was meant to be a picture of Abraham Lincoln.
It probably hung in a fish market as an eye-stopping advertisement for the large lobsters caught off the coast of Maine.
A collector purchased the claw face in the 1930s, and it probably was made years before that.
It's hard to determine the value of a one-of-a-kind piece of folk art such as the lobster man.
Back in the 1960s, my son wore a Captain Kirk Halloween costume. I saved it, in its box. Is it worth anything to people who collect "Star Trek" memorabilia?
Trekkies collect everything related to their favorite television show and movies.
The Collegeville Halloween costumes were tie-on jumpsuits decorated with the words "Star Trek" and sparkles.
Saving the costume in its original box adds to the value. If the plastic mask is still with the costume, it could sell for about $40.
In a box in my basement, I found some old glass canning jars. One has the name "Princess" inside a shield. Another has "Potter & Bodine, Philadelphia" written in script. Are these valuable?
Your Princess jar is worth from $15 to $18. The Potter & Bodine jars sell for $85 to $95. Potter & Bodine jars with the name written in block letters and the words "Airtight Fruit Jar" are worth up to $450.
I saved a guest pass to the 1988 Republican National Convention, which was held in the Louisiana Superdome. Is it worth anything?
Political-memorabilia collectors would be interested in your guest pass to the convention, where George Bush and Dan Quayle were nominated. Prices for convention passes do not fetch high prices, however. Yours would sell for about $10.
In a box of "junk" I bought at a country auction, there was a tiny plastic frame with "I love Cracker Jack" in the center. Does it have any value?
Your Cracker Jack prize was made in the 1970s with either a red or yellow frame. Another one in the series has a picture of Sailor Jack in the middle. They sell for $2 to $3.
The most expensive Cracker Jack prizes are the tin toys the company inserted in boxes during the early 1900s.
I have a Barbra Streisand doll that my brother brought home from England years ago. Is it valuable?
It sounds as though you have the Streisand doll made in the late 1960s by the Primrose Co. of England. In excellent condition, the doll sells for $100 or more.
I was stunned to see a Western saddle decorated with swastikas for sale at a show in my area. What's the story behind this?
The swastika represents Nazi Germany to most people, but it actually dates to ancient times. The Greeks used it as a symbol of prosperity.
The Pueblo and Navajo Indians of the Southwest called the design "whirling logs" and considered it a good-luck symbol. Some white settlers in the Old West adapted the whirling-log design.
During World War II, many American cowboys destroyed the gear that had been decorated with the symbol. You might see items with the designs crossed out or partially removed.
Tip: Let your baskets share the bathroom with you when you take a shower. The hot, moist air is good for them.
The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. Write to Kovels, The Baltimore Sun, King Features Syndicate Inc., 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017.
Pub Date: 10/20/96