Tampa Bay Times

What’s It Worth? Does Milady Need Her Vinaigrette?

For many hundreds of years, long before today’s proper sanitation conditions were the norm, ladies of refinement often wore around their neck or wrist, or occasionally as earrings, small vessels filled with cloth soaked in perfume. These aromatic vessels would help mask the unsavory odors that emanated from open sewers, horse-drawn buggies ... and even other people. Milady would keep such an item on her person so she could quickly flood her olfactory sense with a pleasant fragrance; the delicate, variously perforated containers that released the fragrance were called vinaigrettes.

What’s It Worth? Sometimes, History Trumps Material

While the material this cameo is made of is mere Pinchbeck (a copper and zinc alloy resembling gold), a secret unfolded when researching the names on the cameo that was truly astounding – and that secret took an otherwise $50 cameo to a $1,000 cameo.

Adah Isaacs Menken was a childhood friend of Annie Holcombe. Annie and her sister were considered the belles of the Confederacy. Volumes have been written about the Holcolmbe sisters and their activities in Confederate society.

What’s It Worth? Automatons: The Magical Mystery Of Moving Parts

Automatons have been collectible for hundreds of years, since watch and clockmakers figured out how to utilize the gears inherent in timekeeping to animate mechanical objects, figures, animals and people. Automatons (moving parts) can be seen in large locomotive-motif clocks with running wheels and smoke stacks, in bird cages, miniature bird boxes and even pocket watches that tell time and show maidens pumping water, servants ringing dinner bells and even frankly erotic scenes. All the movement in these pieces is simply powered by a clock or wristwatch mainspring.

What’s It Worth? Vintage Designer Martini Shakers

Most martini shakers are stainless steel or silverplate, which is why it’s significant to come across one crafted of sterling silver. Signature and designers are very important in valuation.

With the rekindled interest in Art Deco and Moderne 1960s chic triggered by shows like Mad Men, the old-fashioned martini shaker has become a hot collector’s item. Mid-century modern is also one of the hottest eras that has caught the fancy of the collecting public.

What's it Worth? Coin Silver Tea Set

In the nineteenth century, silversmiths were quite common in the north — many were based in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. In the south, however, they were few and far between, which is why southern silver is highly sought after today. This tea set, made of melted-down coins, bears the mark of S.S. Cutler, a Kentucky maker/retailer from circa 1850. It belonged to the family of Congressman Albert G. Talbot (also Talbott) of Kentucky, whose name is engraved on the pieces.

What’s It Worth? 1864 Abraham Lincoln Ferrotype



Photographic images come in many forms: daguerreotype, ambrotype and tintype or ferrotype. It takes an expert to know the difference.

Daguerreotype was introduced in 1839. Made of polished silver, these photos are very reflective and heavy and require a protective glass covering, as they are easily damaged. This method was in use only from the early 1840s to late 1850s.

What's it Worth? WWII-Era Medals

The highly decorated man in the photo at right was Claes Adolph Westring,an Ambassador to Norway who saved thousands of Scandinavian Jews from the Nazis in the 1940s. Westring, whose historical significance is well documented, is also credited with saving the Nobel Peace Prize when the Nazis tried to overtake it. He was awarded numerous medals from different countries for his efforts. Westring’s sword, medals and the photo of him (in which he is wearing the medals) were brought to us in Tampa by his grandson. This provenance serves as proof of the items’ authenticity and value.