Q: How can I distinguish old or antique canning or fruit jars from those considered to be junk? I have several in my cellar of various shapes and sizes including some of colored glass. Where can I find information on such jars, or most important, if they are of any value?
A: You'd be wise to check them out, since many jars found up in the attic or down in the cellar can turn out to be worth peachy prices. Write the Fruit Jar Newsletter (loaded with information) published monthly for $14 a year from FJN Publishers, 364 Gregory Ave., West Orange, N.J. 7052-3743.
Q: I recently bought a quantity of old costume jewelry covered with sludge or hardened mud. I tried cleaning the rhinestones and other pieces made with prongs, but the mud is stuck between the prongs, settings and other parts made to hold stones. How can I clean such pieces, which I bought with the intention of cleaning up and cashing in?
A: For a professional jewelers' cleaning and polishing kit , try Maas Jewelry Systeme Kit, which includes Maas Jewelers Bathe with a basket and brush, a jar of jewelers rouge, a two-sided polishing and buffing cloth, and instructional brochures, available for $18.45 postpaid from Maas International Inc., P.O. Box 128, La Grange, Ill. 60525-0128.
Q: How can I contact plate collectors or sources to complete a set of six plates painted by an artist named Jan Hagara? The plates, which picture different children on each one and have borders decorated with hearts, were made for the American Heart Association, and were issued by the Carson Mint with the first one beginning in 1980.
A: Write the Official Jan Hagara Collectors Club, 40114 Industrial Park North, Georgetown, Texas 78626, enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope for plate information, or send $22.50 for an annual membership and quarterly club newsletter, or phone (512) 863-9499. Stores that deal in Hagara plates are listed in the "Directory to Limited Edition Collectible Stores" for 00 $17.70 postpaid and in the "Directory to Secondary Market Retailers -- Second Edition" for $14.70 postpaid, each available from Collectors' Information Bureau, 5065 Shoreline Road, Suite
200, Barrington, Ill. 60010-1700, or phone (708) 842-2200.
Write Anita Gold, P.O. Box 59354, Chicago, Ill. 60659, enclosing an addressed, stamped envelope. Due to the high volume of mail, not all letters can be answered.