What was used in the past is loved now Antiques: Just about anything can be a collectible, and with a little imagination, can usually fit right in the house.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

There seems to be a collector for almost everything. There are collectors and clubs for those who save spark plugs, barbed wire, slide rules, dental tools, candy containers, stickers from grocery-store produce, credit cards, erasers, swizzle sticks, luggage labels, beer cans, rubber boots, key chains, Halloween memorabilia and cat-shaped anything.

Many antiques and collectibles can be adapted to a new use in today's home. Chicken coops are sold as tables; printers' boxes for type are now hung as shelves. A kimono or costume can become a wall hanging. Ceramic chimney tops from England are used as pedestals for plants. Wooden bobbins used in commercial weaving mills become candleholders. Pieces of buildings or iron fences are dismantled to become garden ornaments or stakes for plants. Wooden ladders make end tables with shelves. A wooden ironing board makes a good bar.

With imagination you can use an antique in many different ways without altering it.

We just inherited a Victorian, marble-topped table and had it shipped to our house. The top has curved edges that match the lines of the wooden frame. The marble broke in the center. We would like to use the table but wonder whether it is worth fixing.

If the marble cracked in half it could be cemented together and restored. A shaped marble top is expensive to replace. The beveled edges of old marble tops are usually much more elaborate than those made today.

The cost to repair a cracked top is about $250. A new top that probably would be of lesser quality would cost about $500. If your table is a family heirloom with sentimental value, have it fixed.

Our old jug is shaped and colored like a parrot. It is 13 inches high. The bottom is marked in script "St. Clement France." What can you tell us about it?

Jacques Chambrette opened the St. Clement pottery in 1758. It changed ownership several times over the years. The company made majolica figures noted for blended coloring and glass-like appearance.

The early pieces are marked with initials. After World War I, the name of the firm in script was used as a mark.

Your parrot jug is worth about $100. Older and larger versions sell for as much as $300.

My enameled copper dish has a decoration picturing a sea gull. The maker is "Nekrassoff." The name sounds Russian, but the sea-gull picture doesn't seem very Russian. Do you know anything about the company?

Serge Nekrassoff was born in Russia in 1893. He moved to Paris about 1918 and apprenticed at a metalworking shop for three years. He later opened a shop in Buenos Aires, Argentina. By 1925, he had moved to New York. In 1931 he opened a shop in Darien, Conn., and made and sold giftware made of copper, enameled copper and pewter.

His son Boris joined the company, and they made many types of candleholders, tea sets, trays, boxes, bowls and lamps. Each piece was signed "Nekrassoff." Their production stopped during World War II, but soon after they were making enameled copper wares.

In 1952, the Nekrassoffs moved to Stuart, Fla. It was there that they made the pieces like yours that were decorated with sea birds and other Florida scenes.

The company closed in 1979. Serge died in 1985.

The bottom of my bride-and-groom figurine is marked "Josef Originals." Do you know anything about it?

Muriel Joseph George designed and made Josef Originals porcelain figurines, music boxes, cookie jars and planters in California from 1945 to 1962. After 1962, her figurines were made in Japan.

In 1982 she retired and sold her company to her partner, George Good, who sold the company to the Southland Corp. in 1985. The "Josef Originals" name is now owned by Applause.

If your figurine was made before 1962, it is worth about $100.

I've been trying to collect what I call "ribbon dolls." They're paper dolls decorated with ribbon and lace and framed to be hung on a wall. What can you tell me about them?

The custom of "dressing" prints started in the Victorian age. Women would decorate pictures with scraps of materials, beadwork and ribbons. Your ribbon dolls followed that hobby.

Some ribbon dolls were advertisements -- you could send away for a print of a woman and add your own fabric. Some were mass-produced as kits for young women to complete at home.

My mother has a small collection of Abingdon Pottery items. What can you tell me about the company?

The Abingdon Sanitary Manufacturing Co. was founded in 1908 in Abingdon, Ill. The company made plumbing fixtures. In 1934, during the Depression, demand for the fixtures dropped, and Abingdon started to make art pottery, which it sold through gift shops and department stores. The company changed its name to Abingdon Potteries Inc. in 1945.

In 1950, the demand for plumbing fixtures rose again, and Abingdon dropped its art-pottery line to fill plumbing orders. The company is now called Briggs Industries Inc.

I was a major Monkees fan when I was a child. I notice that they're back on tour. Does that mean my Monkees collectibles are more valuable?

The Monkees who are on tour don't include Mike Nesmith, one of the original group. Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and backup musicians are now playing to receptive audiences of all ages.

Mint-condition Monkees toys from the 1960s bring high prices, but other memorabilia also sells. A mint-condition set of 44 Donruss photo-sticker badges from 1967 is valued at $250; Corgi metal Monkeemobile, $120 to $400; 1967 Topps flip books, $10 to $15 each; Transogram game, $22 to $75; jigsaw puzzle, $15 to $50.

When my Dad went to Korea a few years ago, he brought back a Barbie doll. It's still in its original package, complete with the Korean writing on it. Is it valuable?

Barbie dolls from other countries hold the most value if they are in the original package. Most of them were made in the 1980s.

L Some of the doll faces are not the same as American Barbies.

Korean Barbie dolls sell for $50 to $80. Japanese Barbies bring from $50 to $130.

Tip: Aerosol paint strippers are fast but need precautions. Wear goggles, gloves and a long-sleeved shirt, because the spray will float. With aerosol strippers there is no brushing. They work well on small, irregular surfaces such as carvings.

The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. Write to Kovels, The Sun, King Features Syndicate Inc., 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Pub Date: 8/17/97

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