Q: How valuable is my wooden-handled "Coleman No. 2" iron made of copper and white metal? At one end there's a bulb-like attachment with a small nozzle which I was told holds gasoline!
A: The nickel-plated bulb of your 1940s "spirit" iron held an alcohol-based fuel to keep the iron hot; gasoline wasn't used. Made by The Coleman Co., of Philadelphia, this relatively common model is worth around $50 to $70 in good condition, said Linda Campbell Franklin, author of "300 Years of Housekeeping Collectibles," ($25.45 postpaid from the author, 2716 Northfield Road, Charlottesville, Va. 22901). According to Ms. Franklin, old irons often are displayed in the windows of dry cleaning shops, and can be found at flea markets and garage sales, too.
Q: What's the value of my 12 Wedgwood plates, each decorated in red with different scenes of the University of Pennsylvania's campus? They were made in 1940 to commemorate "Penn's" bicentennial, and are in perfect condition.
A: Your set of 12 mulberry-colored transfer-printed Wedgwood plates originally cost $20 and now is worth around $300 in good condition, according to Wedgwood expert Muriel Polikoff, who will be among the 80 dealers at the Cheltenham Antiques Fair Nov. 7-9 at Elkins Park, Pa.; call (215) 887-8700 for more information. The accompanying cups and saucers together usually cost around $30 to $40, she added. Ms. Polikoff, who will have several Penn plates and a wide assortment of fine Wedgwood for sale at the show, will be giving a lecture, "The Wonderful World of Wedgwood," at the fair Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 11 a.m.
Since the 19th century, Wedgwood, the famed English pottery company known for its cameo-decorated "Jasper Ware," has mass produced huge quantities of china decorated with historical views of America. The company made several different commemorative plate series for American universities, including 1930s sets for Harvard and Yale, and a 1929 blue and white University of Pennsylvania series, which Penn plans to reproduce for use in its new clubhouse in New York. Alumni often seek out these souvenirs of their alma maters.
Paul P. Cret, a Penn architecture professor, designed your plates' border, a raised laurel-leaf with a portrait medallion of Benjamin Franklin (the school's founder) at the top and the university's seal at the bottom. The campus scenes were drawn by famous alumni artists and architects; they're identified on each plate's back.