Q: My aunt was a high-ranking officer in the Salvation Army. As such, she received many gifts from visiting dignitaries. One is a lithograph, "Approach to Mount Sinai," by Wady Barah 2/17/1839. My family had it framed in the 1950s. Any info?
A: Our reader may be surprised to learn that her print is in the Library of Congress, where it is titled, "Approach to Mount Sinai Wady Barah Febt 17th 1839." It's also for sale on amazon.com for $8.99.
At this point, smart collectors must wonder what the story is on that print. Let's start at the beginning.
In Arabic, a wadi or wady is a dry creek bed. There are many in the desert, each with the term wadi followed by location or name. For example, Wadi Bara Kandi is in the Sudan area. Wadi Rum is in Jordan and Wadi Feiran is in Egypt.
Area residents know that wadis can become dangerous when it rains. Their compacted soil and steep sides do not allow water to be absorbed, so the wadi flash floods.
Wady Barah is not the artist, but a location. The artist is David Roberts (1796-1864), a Brit who spent months traveling and sketching through Egypt and the Sinai in 1838 and 1839. Accompanied by guides, Roberts also traveled and sketched through Palestine, Lebanon, and other parts of the region.
Using 247 of Roberts' sketches, Belgian engraver Louis Haghe created lithographs and published them in six volumes as "The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia."
Remember, this was done at a time when the Middle East was exotic and unknown. The hand-colored image of Robert's guides in desert costume and their camels at rest at the base of the mountains in the Sinai must have thrilled Bible students and armchair adventurers.
Pages from Haghe's original folios measured about 13.5 in. x 20 in. The reader says her print is 19.75 in. x 13.25. The amazon.com version is an 8 in. x 12 in. photographic print.
Bottom line, only original folio prints in good condition bring top dollar. Happily, our reader has passed that hurdle, though the print must be seen for verification.
We found a folio version with later hand coloring offered online for $1,300. On http://www.worthpoint.com we saw that one with original coloring sold on eBay in July of 2011 for $900.
Q: I have a silver ticket holder from Pan American Airways shaped like a cigarette case, about 3 in. x 7 in. It has the passenger name stamped on it and reads that it departed New York in June, 1939 with destination Marseilles. Any info?
A: Our reader adds that the item was a gift from a relative. Seems that he admired the holder so much that it was given to him. Nice gift.
Aviation collectibles, especially from now-defunct airlines that operated during the golden age of flight, are avidly sought. Travel bags, posters, airline china and just about anything with the Pan Am logo is collected. At the higher end, model airplanes from ticket/travel offices -- especially Clipper ships -- and certain travel posters sell for three figures or more.
We checked prices realized databases, but no metal ticket holders like the reader's surfaced. On worthpoint.com, we found a 1943 ticket in a paper folio that sold for $36 in an online auction. A 1956 ticket in its paper sleeve brought $19 on eBay, and a 1980 leather Pan Am ticket holder with accompanying papers sold for $89 on eBay two years ago.
Value for the reader's case with papers depends on if the case is a base metal or silver, as well as condition of the case and enclosed paperwork. Scanning results provided an idea of what collectors value. The fact that this is an unusual case from an early date during the height of the Clipper era and is linked to a specific passenger bodes well for higher value.
AUCTION ACTION: When Bonhams Los Angeles sold coin-ops from a huge private collection this winter, a fun slot machine fashioned in the shape of a showgirl brought top dollar. Pre-sale estimate for the 20th Century slot was $800-$1,200. The 70-in.-high figural slot machine made by Ace Novelty Co. sold for a remarkable $10,625. A traditional Jennings slot from the same era fetched $3,000. Whimsy clearly won the day.
Q: When did Pan Am originate? When was it dissolved?"
A: Incorporated in 1927, Pan Am declared bankruptcy in January, 1991.
(Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun