Q: What's the value of my standing yarn winder which I think is around 200 years old?
A: In olden days, after yarn was spun on spinning wheels, it needed to be wound for easy use. As a result, yarn-winding devices, the kind that clamped onto furniture and standing models like yours, once were common household items. While still relatively easy to find, there's little use for them today, except as decorations in country-style rooms.
Your oak yarn winder with cherry or maple turned spindles resembling the spokes of a wagon wheel dates from around 1820 to 1830, and probably was made in Pennsylvania. It could retail for around $200 to $300 in good condition, says dealer Ronald Klinger, of the Leather Bucket Antiques, 84 Bethlehem Pike, Philadelphia, Pa. 19118, (215) 242-1140.
A brass counter on its front kept track of how much yarn was wound. The popping sound made by the counters when a full skein was measured inspired the popular children's song "Pop Goes the Weasel."
Q: My Schwinn "Black Phantom" bike is from 1952 or '53. It's black and red, has chrome fenders, and is in good condition. What's it worth and where can I sell it?
A: Black Phantoms with glistening chrome and white wall tires epitomize '50s styling and still are relatively plentiful.
They're among the most desirable vintage Schwinn bikes. New they cost about $79 each. A circa 1952 model in good condition could bring around $750 to $1,100 at auction, while one in mint condition could fetch around $2,000 to $3,000, according to Michael Fallon, of Copake Country Auction Inc., P.O. Box H, Copake, N.Y. 12516, (518) 329-1142. Serious collectors won't pay as much for heavily restored vintage bikes or those with many replaced parts, he warns, noting that reproduction parts for Black Phantoms are widely available.
Mr. Fallon holds annual auctions of vintage bicycles and biking memorabilia and currently is accepting consignments for his next sale, scheduled for April 16, 1994. The Wheelmen is a popular group for bike collectors and riding enthusiasts. Joining and reading its newsletters are good ways to learn about bicycle history, swap meets, dealers, auctions and shows. Dues are $20: send checks to Mary Peoples, treasurer, 55 Bucknell Ave., Trenton, N.J. 08619.
Have a question about an antique or collectible? Write to the Solis-Cohens, P.O. Box 304, Flourtown, Pa. 19031-0304, enclosing a clear photo of the whole object and all marks. Photos can't be returned. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.