July 25, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: Lucky elephant head

Although we have gone to hundreds of antiques shows, shops and auctions, we are sometimes baffled by what we see. So, this 6-inch brass elephant head was a mystery.

It wasn’t an inkwell, although we have seen inkwells that size and shape. It had a tusk that could be pushed down, so it wasn’t a paperweight.

The antiques dealer knew it was a hotel service bell. The well-shaped brass head had glass eyes and bone tusks. Hold the tusks down, and a bell rang for hotel help.

It kept on ringing as long as the tusk was held down. It probably will never again be used that way, but it will make an attractive paperweight or small figurine.

The elephant is a good luck charm, too, because, according the superstition, an elephant figure with the trunk up is lucky; the trunk down is bad luck. But what about the ivory tusks? Can it be sold with the current restrictions on ivory?

The seller told us the tusks were made of bone, not ivory. So, a lucky buyer paid $944 at a Morford auction and will probably make friends guess what it was originally used for.

My mother had this interesting glass bowl that I always called a juicer. I recently found out that they are called reamers and seem to be collectible. Can you tell me a little about reamers and how much the one I inherited from my mother is worth?

Reamers, or juice squeezers, have been known since 1767, although most of those collected today date from the 20th century. It is often a dish with a pointed-top cone in the center that squeezes the juice from the fruit held in the dish. Figural reamers are among the most prized.

Reamers were invented out of need when it was discovered that citrus provided a cure for diseases like scurvy. They were first produced in Europe by Bayreuth, Meissen, Royal Rudolstadt and Limoges.

In the United States, a co-op was formed in 1907 called the “California Fruit Growers Exchange.” The co-op marketed Sunkist. Sunkist reamers were marketed to the masses during the 1916 “Drink an Orange” campaign.

Sunkist reamers were mainly white, but also came in green, pink, blue, yellow, black and white. They sell online for between $12 to $85.

Current Prices

Glass, punch set, carnival glass, Acorn Burrs, green iridescent, punch bowl with pedestal base, 6 cups, Northwood, 11 x 11 1/2 inches, $425.

Doll, Seminole, cloth, jacket, yarn hair, sterling pin, 1922 token, 17 inches, $526.

Redware, puzzle jug, holes in neck, inscribed 1767, 4 inches, $750.

Paperweight, Baccarat, canes, roses, shamrocks, 3-inch diameter, 1849, $1,800.

Tip: Be careful how you handle clean silver. Fingerprints will show and eventually tarnish.

Terry and Kim Kovel

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. © 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.