Antique games of all sorts interest collectors. Sometimes the rules of a game or the history of its design and graphics is unknown.
Several 2013 auctions offered containers shaped like chickens, frogs or even vegetables that held nine related small figural “pins.” They are 19th century children’s skittles sets. The game of skittles has been popular in England, Wales, Scotland and Germany for centuries, and was mentioned in writings as early as the 1300s. It is a lot like American bowling. It was played on a field, often near a pub.
A ball, rounded stick or heavy disk was thrown at the nine pins. The object was to knock down all of the pins. Amusing game sets with papier-mache figural pins and a rubber ball were popular in the 1920s and ’30s. The sets with animals and vegetables were made for children. They were small enough to use on the nursery floor or a tabletop.
Full children’s sets are hard to find because the unusual pins often were used for other games and were eventually lost.
Auction prices today for figural skittles sets in good condition range from about $1,500 to $18,000.
Q: Please tell me the value of a mahogany Killinger tilt-top tea table. It’s part of an estate inherited by my husband. I believe the Chippendale-style table dates from the 1930s or ’40s. It’s marked with the letters CW; between the letters is a sort of arrow topped by the number 4.
A: Your table was made by the Kittinger (not Killinger) Furniture Co. of Buffalo. The mark was used on official reproductions made for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation from 1937 to 1990. Kittinger is said to have reproduced more than 300 pieces of American antique furniture for the foundation. Most were made of mahogany and copy Chippendale, Queen Anne and Hepplewhite American antiques. Kittinger, which still is in business in Buffalo, traces its history back to 1866. A Colonial Williamsburg reproduction made by Kittinger is a high-quality piece of furniture. Your table, if in excellent shape, could be worth more than $1,000.
Q: I read with interest your column about vintage talcum powder tins and the probability that old powder may be contaminated with asbestos. I am 74 and still have some full talcum powder tins I was given as a little girl. How can I tell if the powder contains asbestos?
A: To be safe, don’t open the tins or use the powder. Inhaling it is the problem. Just enjoy displaying the old tins. Any cosmetic powder sold by U.S. retailers after the mid-1970s is safe.