Tools are still here, but use is forgotten Antiques: It's sometimes hard to identify objects from the past, even when the past is in this century.

December 15, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Collectors often discover tools or devices from the past that are difficult to identify. Few of us know how our ancestors made thread to weave into cloth or how to use the old-fashioned toasters or trammels made for cooking on an open fire.

It is even more surprising that many things made in this century have become mysteries.

One strange wooden "whatsit" offered in a recent auction looks like an automated scoop. Its label tells us a different story. The swinging wooden "scoop" holds a ball on a string. When the ball is hit with a golf club, the side dial can estimate how far the drive would have traveled.

The golf practice tee device, made by the Peterson Manufacturing Co., sold to a collector for $600 at an October auction by Richard Opfer of Timonium.

While looking for an old treadle sewing machine, I saw one marked "Come-Packt A." I'd never heard of this brand before. Can you give me some information?

The Come-Packt Furniture Co. was founded in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1907. It shipped Mission-style furniture in a knocked-down state for the consumer to put together at home, thus saving freight and shipping charges.

The company did, however, assemble its sewing machines before shipping them. The company's name disappeared from trade publications by 1917.

I was cleaning out my mother's house and found several pairs of dressy shoes in excellent condition. They must date from the 1930s and '40s. I could just give them to a thrift store, but I thought someone might find them collectible.

Vintage-clothing fanciers are interested in shoes to match their outfits. The shoes are difficult to sell, however, because they must fit. You might ask your local drama group if it would like the shoes as part of costumes for plays.

Retail prices for fancy shoes from the '30s and '40s range from $30 to $60. Plain shoes sell for less.

The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. Write to Kovels, The Sun, King Features Syndicate Inc., 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Pub Date: 12/15/96

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