A toast to the New Year is part of the New Year’s Eve celebration, along with music, noisemakers and a New Year’s wish and kiss. In the early 1900s, bars were the hub of much social activity.
Neighborhood folks would eat, drink and talk as they do today. Gifts from the saloon management to regular customers were expected. In the 1880s, a popular gift was a special small glass flask filled with whiskey. Its label read “Season’s Greetings,” and included the name of the giver - a hotel, bar or bartender. These bottles are very collectible today. Price is determined by the shape and color of the bottle and the historic interest in the giver. Norman C. Heckler & Co., which operates online bottle auctions, recently sold a circa 1900 gift bottle from the Hotel Emrich in Washington, D.C., for $468. It had a label under glass, which added to the value.
Q: My grandmother, who was born in the late 1800s, had some pieces of silverware that I now own. I would like to display them in a shadow box for my children. Is there something I can put on the silver to keep it from tarnishing?
A: Silver that is going to be displayed, not used for eating, can be lacquered to prevent tarnish. It should be cleaned before treating. You can have it lacquered by someone who repairs and restores silver, or you can buy a product meant specifically for silver and do it yourself. This can be a difficult process if the piece has an intricate design. Every bit of the silver must be covered and the lacquer must be applied evenly. Lacquer will yellow over time and may crack. You can use Renaissance Wax, a micro-crystalline wax, instead of lacquer, but it will not prevent tarnish for as long. Silver can’t be polished once it is lacquered. The lacquer has to be completely removed first. The type of box the silver will be displayed in also is important. It should have an airtight lid. Don’t display silver on felt, velvet or wool.
Q: I have a dining-room set that includes a French Provincial table with three leaves, a china cabinet with glass doors, six chairs and one armchair. All the chairs have been re-covered. A tag on the bottom of one of the chairs says “B.F. Huntley Co.” The entire set was purchased at an estate sale in the 1970s. When were these pieces made and what might their value be?
A: B.F. Huntley, an employee of the Oakland Furniture Co., established his own furniture company in Winston-Salem, N.C., 1906. Later he acquired the Oakland Furniture Co. and two other furniture companies. In 1961 B.F. Huntley Furniture Co. merged with the Thomasville Chair Co. and became Thomasville Furniture Industries. Your vintage furniture is worth what comparable new sets sell for today.