Between 1803 and 1900, approximately 250 US patents were filed for apple peeler designs. One of the earliest designs dates back to the late 1700s.

Apples were a major crop in the United States, and the evolution of kitchen utensils like apple peelers dramatically sped up fall harvest chores. Apple peelers were taken to neighbors for “peel the bees”, where the men operated the hand-cranked machines, and the women did the finer work of quartering, slicing and stringing the apples for drying. Dried apple slices were stored in bags and used to make applesauce or pies or for other culinary uses throughout the winter season.

Apple peeling bees not only performed a vital function of harvesting food, but were also popular social events. A single man or woman would throw apple peelings over their left shoulder and try to see if they formed the initials of a future spouse.

Q: I was given a 32 inch Uneeda “walking doll” for my birthday when I was about 4 years old. She is made of hard plastic, has stiff, movable arms and legs, sleepy blue eyes, and a blonde wig. The neck is marked “3176 ME,” (Copyright symbol) “Uneeda Doll Company Inc., MCMLXXVI.” If you hold the doll’s hand and move it slightly from side to side, it “walk” by your side. There is an oddly shaped indented area on his back that measures approximately 3 1/2 inches long and 2 inches wide. What’s the point?

A: Uneeda Doll Company was founded in 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. The company made thousands of moderately priced dolls and copied dolls made by other manufacturers. Although stiff-legged dolls like yours are sometimes called “Walking Dolls” the first doll that ” Marlet “ was Baby First Step, made by Mattel from 1964. A battery-operated motor in the doll’s body made her walk or roller-skate. A compartment in the back of the doll contained the batteries. The recessed area in your doll’s back may have been intended to hold batteries, but it does not appear that this model was made with a battery-operated movement. The Roman numerals on your doll indicate that it was made in 1976. Most dolls like yours were made in Taiwan then, but yours was made in the United States. The company has changed ownership several times. She became Uneeda Doll Co., Ltd. in 1996 and is now headquartered in Henderson, North Carolina.

Q: Has Tiffany ever made desk sets? I think I own one. It is made of glass set in a patterned metal. My parents think it’s from the 1920s. What’s it worth?

A: Louis Comfort Tiffany, best known for his leaded glass shades, windows, and iridescent art glass, founded Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company in Corona, New York, in 1892. It became Tiffany Studios in 1902. The company manufactured desk sets in over 15 different designs. The sets included at least nine pieces, including inkwells, pen trays, paper holders, letter openers, flip-flop blotters, notepad holders, stamp boxes, blotter ends and calendars . Bookends, paperweights, lamps, picture frames, thermometers, and other pieces were included in some larger sets.

False “Tiffany” parts were made. If the parts are marked “Tiffany Studios New York” in raised letters in a depressed rectangular area, or are simply marked “Tiffany” they are fake. Authentic Tiffany desk sets made between circa 1900 and 1919 are printed or stamped “Tiffany Studios New York”, and each piece is printed with a different model number. Desk sets in the Pine Needle pattern, which has 12 pieces, fetched between $2,800 and $4,200 at auction. A set of just six pieces recently sold for $1,500.

A few months ago we wrote that Lane cedar chests made before 1987 have old-fashioned locks that can lock and trap a child inside. The lock must be removed or replaced. A reader wrote to us to say that he purchased a cedar chest from 1940 Lane 20 years ago and found that the company would provide replacement security locks, latches and keys at no charge. You can contact the company at LaneFurniture.com/page/product-safety.

Q: Do old tin toys have value? My dad was born on a small farm in 1916 and rarely had store bought toys, but he had a tin car that goes in a garage and a tin airplane. The plane has a grooved wheel that would make it roll a string tied between two objects. The plane is missing part of its empennage. There is no maker’s name on either toy. I don’t want to sell them, but I would like to know if they have value.

A: Tin toys were made in the United States, Germany, France, and England beginning in the early 1800s. “Golden age” tin toys was around 1865 to 1914. The first lithographed tin toy cars were made around 1900, a few years after automobiles had become more common than horse-drawn carriages. Cars that reproduced real model cars were made in 1930. Tin toys were made in Japan after the end of World War II. Many were made from scrap beer cans discarded by American soldiers. Others were made in factories from sheet metal. Old tin toys are collectible if in good condition. Wind-up toys and other toys that move are the most expensive. Some sell for over $100 and a few for over $1000.


Current prices are recorded from antique shows, flea markets, sales and auctions across the United States. Prices vary by location due to local economic conditions.

Hurricane, milky glass, globe shade, painted multicolored flowers, brass mounts, Victorian, electrified, 17 1/2 inches, $63.

Bottle, flask, Kossuth and tree, calabash, aqua, applied lip, punty, c. 1850, 10 1/2 inches, $89.

Toy, car, Aston Martin, green body, black wheels, die-cast metal, No. 53, Matchbox series, box, Moko Lesney $214.

Trade card, Punch & Judy Mechanical Bank, multicolored illustration, Keith, Benham & Dezendorf, Chicago, Illinois, Courier Lith. Co., Buffalo, NY, c. 1884, 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches, $344.

Chair, bookcase, mahogany, red upholstery, barrel back, round seat, swivel, straight legs, casters, arms, Continental, 19th century, 33 x 25 1/2 x 28 inches, $382.

Clock, glass, transparent round case, small dial, glass paste frog and leaf finial, two glass paste frog holders on base, green, signed, Daum France, 11 inches, $407.

Silver tea set, doll, pear-shaped teapot, hinged lid, sugar and creamer, four cups and saucers, round tray, scalloped rim, marked, Venezia, Venice, 5 3/4 inch tray, $531.

Doll, Mattel, Talking Barbie, blonde, real eyelashes, bendable legs, orange bathing suit, lace jacket, zipper pull, no talking, box, 1969, $649.

Stoneware pitcher, blue, green, tan, center panel with incised stag, white beaded borders, geometric bands, blue-green handle, silver hinged lid, art nouveau, Hannah Barlow, Doulton Lambeth, 19th century, 8 inch, 1 $375.

Toy, pedal car, wooden body, painted red, gold lettering, metal front plate and seat back, “Addiction” front, front crank with ratchet, early 20th century, 23 x 36 inches, $1,875.

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