Since I appraise all types of antiques, I provide a variety of information about a wide array of objects. I try to dispel the myths that are notorious in my field. Here, I’ll share some antiques information from diverse areas of the collecting field.
Did you know these facts about art, antiques, and collectibles from the 1900s?
In the early years of the 1900s, gathering in the parlor around the hearth was a longstanding tradition in many American homes. This cultural phenomenon inspired the architectural designs of the famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright who reminded us to focus on family and the fireplace.
Many of Wright’s famous buildings were focused on a design element centering on the hearth. In fact, this idea dating back to the early 1900s also sparked the group activity that we now refer to as “family game night.”
Printing Parlor Games
Since the Industrial revolution made life easier for many people during the early 20th Century, there was more leisure time to enjoy each other’s company. Parlor games quickly grew in popularity and they were produced using color lithography.
Color lithography attracted many to certain games via its vibrant printed images of popular sports, animals and travel sites. Lithography was invented around the 1820, but it wasn’t used widely until the 1880s.
Who used it? Big game manufacturers such as Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley and McLoughlin Brothers used it. Lithograph floor games like skittles and animal pin bowling featured printed images of animals.
These games sell for upwards of $250 in excellent condition today.
There is a simple way to tell if you have a piece of bakelite or not.
Bakelite is the early plastic invented by Dr. Leo Baekeland of Yonkers, NY in 1907. Rarely marked, bakelite was used by many fashion houses for costume jewelry and other accessories. Since bakelite objects were typically molded and fused together, the easiest way to tell if you have a piece of bakelite is to look for the mold line or for the fused seam. Bakelite is not flammable so if you rub your fingers over the piece in question to make friction and you smell formaldehyde, you probably have a piece of bakelite. This testing method will not harm your piece like some of the other testing methods, because bakelite is formed from a combination of carbolic acid and formaldehyde.
Glass flower stem holders known as flower frogs came onto the scene in 1914 about the time when the Japanese art of ikebana flower arranging came into fashion. Flower stem holders with holes to host floral stems were designed to sit in a shallow bowl of water like their namesakes. With a flower frog, any bowl could be turned into a floral display vase. Flower frogs fell out of favor with the introduction of oasis floral foam — that green stuff that you can stick a stem - in 1954.
Today, old flower frogs range in value from $5 to $100 depending on maker, condition, and material.
Test your Breath
There was an early version of the breathalyzer test used to measure blood alcohol content. Developed by an Indiana biochemist named Dr. Rolla Harger in 1931, the first breathalyzer test was known as the Drunkometer. Indiana State troopers first used the Drunkometer on New Year’s Eve in 1938.
On the scene, police officers using the Drunkometer had to complete complex calculations to figure out a drivers’ blood alcohol content. Today’s breathalyzers, which were introduced in 1954, do not require police officers to do any math!
Mickey gas mask
The Sun Rubber Company of Ohio made children’s toys of molded rubber featuring popular cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse. During World War II, the rubber company produced a Mickey Mouse gas mask for American children to use in the event of a chemical attack.
These little known facts about cultural objects from the 1900s help us further understand the American century.
Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. Dr. Lori is the star appraiser on the Discovery channel’s hit TV show, Auction Kings. Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori, or call (888) 431-1010.