by Lisa C. Cantwell
“When I was young woman, I visited an antique shop in Hanover, New Hampshire. The elderly owner of the shop asked me if I was attending Dartmouth College there. I told her no, that I was an actress. She shared with me that she had been a silent film actress and a Ziegfeld Follies girl. She then showed me this dress that she’d worn in a film in 1920. She also told me that she and the other actresses of the day swallowed tape worms to stay thin! I regret that I don’t remember her name. She was so excited about my acting career that she gave me the dress!”
— Holly O., Cascade
This lady gave you a remarkable TREASURE of a hand-beaded shift dress that hangs from the shoulder to just above the knee.
This authentic, early flapper dress is in very good condition with no holes in its mesh fabric. It also doesn’t appear to be missing any beads! There is some loose threading here and there, which needs to be trimmed and secured so as not to cause fraying. The silver and clear glass beads are in a lovely, swirled pattern throughout the dress. A silk or chiffon chemise would have been worn under this see-through garment, with its dropped waist and scalloped hem. Although the color has faded to a nice sepia tone, it probably began as a much lighter, ecru tone. As for the swallowing of tapeworms to lose weight, I hope she was kidding! There’s evidence that the “tapeworm diet” was marketed in the 1900s, when beef tapeworm cysts were advertised in pill form, but the idea never took off because of lethal side effects. Tapeworms grow up to thirty feet in length and cause headaches, eye problems, meningitis, epilepsy, and dementia, just to name a few ills. It’s likely that the owner of this dress didn’t use that method of weight loss for long, or she wouldn’t have lived to give you this dress. Beaded dresses from the 1920s are highly sought after in the vintage market. Similar treasures bring $500 to $1,200. Thank you for sharing it!
“This clock belonged to my great grandparents, Harvey and Alice Tyson, from Norristown, Pennsylvania. My mother, Catharine Anderman, spent many summers with them, and tells me that it was located in the sitting room on the second floor of their home, on top of an oak roll top desk. She was born in 1926, and has no idea how they acquired it. She inherited it and passed it on to me. What can you tell me about it?”
— Beth Helmick, Thurmont
Your heirloom TREASURE dates to the 1850s and is a Royal Bonn, “1755” porcelain clock.
The maker’s mark on the back has the characteristic crown and denotes the style “LaVar.” It is in very good condition, save for a hairline crack between the 10 and 7 hour on the face. There are several of these hand-painted beauties that date from the late 19th and early 20th century, on various internet auction sites, but yours is definitely a rarer, early type. Royal Bonn was the 19th and 20th Century Trade Name used by the renowned craftsman Franz Anton Mehlem, who produced pottery in Bonn, Germany, from 1836 to 1931. Fine porcelain and earthenware were also manufactured in the factory, to include dishes and vases. These clocks were imported to America by the Ansonia Clock Company of New York. In 1921, the firm was purchased by Villeroy & Boch, and closed in 1931. The value of these clocks ranges from $299.95 to $3,500. Based on the age of your clock, and taking into account the face crack, consider its value between $800 and $1,200.
TRINKETS…Some We Just Can’t Part With
So far, all of what readers have shared in this column have been treasures. Yet, we all have trinkets, those heirlooms that have little to no value, that we cannot part with. Things like Dad’s felt letter from his high school football jacket, Mom’s butterfly pin, Grandma’s baby spoon, Granddad’s pen knife, an old key to the family farmhouse, Great Uncle Joe’s dog tags, and so forth. These items often end up in junk drawers or are stored in boxes stashed in a basement, only to be forgotten.
Why not display your trinkets in an old store case? Pictured is one that sits on a counter or table, has a red felt bottom and a lid that can be left open or closed for viewing. Your trinkets will turn into family heirloom treasures, each with its own unique story, which can be passed from generation to generation. If you have an abundance of doodads, whatchamacallits, and thingamajigs from times past, then change up your display with the seasons. Table top size, old store cases in good condition can be found for $50 to $125. Search your stuff for conversational, precious trinkets to determine the size of case you might need. If it’s too sentimental to throw away, why not display?!