When dummies led the way in home security Antiques: In the 18th century, a cutout of a person could keep an intruder away.

November 24, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Home security is not just a recent concern. In the 18th century, long before electronic sensors and alarms, the "dummy board" was used.

A flat board was cut into an outline of a person, and then details were painted on the board. Men, women, children, servants in uniform and even dogs were depicted on the decoys.

A dummy board was placed near a wall so it cast a shadow in the candlelight. Sometimes just a dummy face was placed strategically behind the curtains in a window.

The idea of the dummy board came from the Netherlands to Britain in the late 1700s. The figures were copied as decorative items in the mid-19th century and again about 1925. They are sometimes seen at auctions. Any dummy board, even a 20th-century one, sells for hundreds of dollars.

How did a woman sit in a chair while wearing a bustle? I'm in a play, and the authentic costume seems to dictate that I perch on the edge of the chair.

Comfort was not the main interest of furniture designers or dressmakers in the 1880s.

nTC Most bustles were large steel cages tied to the waist under the dress. The wearer could not lean against a chair back.

Some bustles were designed to fold up so the wearer could lean back in the chair. Other bustles were made of soft material such as horsehair that acted like a pillow.

I have a Skipper doll from the 1970s. If you twist her arms, she gets taller and her breasts get bigger. I don't have the original box or clothing, but I wonder if this doll might have some value.

Mattel introduced the Growing Up Skipper doll in 1975. She was advertised as "two dolls in one." If her arm was twisted, she turned from a girl into a taller teen-ager. The 2-centimeter growth in her bust line created quite a stir.

The mint-in-box value for Growing Up Skipper is $65. Yours would sell for less.

I bought some yellow plates that look a lot like Fiesta ware. They are marked "Valencia." Are they new?

The Shawnee Pottery Co. made Valencia dinnerware for Sears about 1940.

Valencia ware comes in the same sort of bright colors as Fiesta ware. The Valencia advertisements even played on the resemblance. One 1941 ad said, "Valencia, Gay as a Carnival."

Tumblers now sell for $15 to $20. A salt-and-pepper set sells for $10. Plates sell for about $7 each. A cup-and-saucer set is worth from $10 to $15.

My father gave me his Andy Gump roadster. It has the figure of Andy driving. The metal car is painted red, with the license plate number 348 in the front and back. The wheels are painted black and gold. On the underneath it is marked "Tootsietoy." Can you tell me the age and value?

In the 1930s Tootsietoy made a boxed set of vehicles called Tootsietoy Funnies. The set included a Moon Mullins police patrol car, Uncle Willie and Mamie in a boat, a Kayo ice truck, a Herbie & Smittie motorcycle with sidecar and your Andy Gump roadster.

The roadster sells for $175 to $350, depending on condition. If the Andy figure can move, it sells for more.

I inherited a pressed-glass bowl that my mother always called her "crushed fruits" bowl. It's about 9 inches wide and 4 inches high. Three individual sections surround a center circular section. Any information?

Crushed fruit bowls were used to hold small pieces of cut fruit. Some of the bowls came with a cover so they could be left on the table without attracting flies. The name and the bowl style were popular in the early 1900s.

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: 11/24/96

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