Corn makes a delectable collectible Antiques: Collectors gobble up milk glass in Libbey's 'Maize' pattern.

November 02, 1997|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Corn has inspired decorations on porcelain, furniture, metalwork and paintings for centuries. In the 1880s, corn became a symbol of America.

About 1889, the W. I. Libbey & Son Co. of Toledo, Ohio, made a pattern of milk glass that resembled ears of corn.

A tumbler was formed from the ear of the corn with green, blue or red leaves. The corn kernels were made in light yellow, white or light green.

The pattern was called "Maize," and pieces are expensive collectors' items today.

A saltshaker sells for $100 to $200; a celery dish for $275; a condiment set with three shakers for about $800.

We have some kind of a machine that sits on a table with a treadle underneath. The table and treadle look just like the base of an old sewing machine. The machine on top has hoses and pulleys. Do you know what it might be?

You probably have a Graphophone, an early sound-reproducing machine made by the American Graphophone Co. The company was founded in 1887 in Washington. The machine was made based on the work done by Alexander Graham Bell and not by Thomas Edison, who had invented the phonograph a decade earlier.

The Graphophone used a single-use cardboard cylinder that was thinly coated with a waxy material to hold the sounds. A treadle provided the power.

The Graphophone never became popular. By 1891 none were being made. A collector would pay hundreds of dollars for a working example.

I saw a brightly colored vase with a crackle glaze in a shop. The owner said it was a Persian vase. What does that mean?

It simply means the vase was made in Persia, which has been called Iran since 1935. Early pieces are marked with the name "Persia."

After World War I, decorative items from Iran were popular in the zTC United States. The items were sold in gift shops.

My wife has two Ranger Joe Ranch mugs. One is red, and the other is blue. She also has a 1951 photo of herself posing with Ranger Joe. She remembers that there was a Ranger Joe cereal. Do you know any more?

In 1939, Jim Rex founded the Ranger Joe Breakfast Food Co. in Philadelphia. He said he was tired of watching his kids pour sugar on their puffed-wheat cereal.

Ranger Joe Popped Wheat Honnies were puffed-wheat bits dipped in a mixture of honey and corn syrup. The company logo was a portrait of a cowboy and his horse that was inspired by the Lone Ranger.

In the 1940s, Philadelphia businessman Moses Berger bought the company and dreamed up all sorts of promotions to advertise the cereal.

Your wife probably picked up her mugs at a grocery-store aisle display manned by an actor hired to play Ranger Joe. Each mug is now worth $10.

In 1954, Berger sold the business to Nabisco, which renamed the cereal "Wheat and Rice Honeys" and changed the logo character to Buffalo Bee.

Tip: When regluing loose rungs or parts of chairs, remove ol glue with vinegar. Use a small oil can to drip the vinegar into any holes.

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: 11/02/97

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