Full skittles game sets are hard to pin down


Antique games of all sorts interest collectors. Sometimes the rules of a game or the history of its design and graphics is unknown.

Several 2013 auctions offered containers shaped like chickens, frogs or even vegetables that held nine related small figural “pins.” They are 19th-century children’s skittles sets.

The game of skittles has been popular in England, Wales, Scotland and Germany for centuries, and was mentioned in writings as early as the 1300s. It is a lot like American bowling. It was played on a field, often near a pub. A ball, rounded stick or heavy disk was thrown at the nine pins. The object was to knock down all of the pins.

Amusing game sets with papier-mache figural pins and a rubber ball were popular in the 1920s and ’30s. The sets with animals and vegetables were made for children, possibly by the companies that made papier mache candy containers. They were small enough to use on the nursery floor or a tabletop.

Full children’s sets are hard to find because the unusual pins often were used for other games and were eventually lost. Auction prices today for figural skittles sets in good condition range from about $1,500 to $18,000.

Q: Please tell me the value of a mahogany Killinger tilt-top tea table. It’s part of an estate inherited by my husband. I believe the Chippendale-style table dates from the 1930s or ’40s. It’s marked with the letters CW; between the letters is a sort of arrow topped by the number 4.

A: Your table was made by the Kittinger (not Killinger) Furniture Co. of Buffalo, N.Y. The mark was used on official reproductions made for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation from 1937 to 1990. Kittinger is said to have reproduced more than 300 pieces of American antique furniture for the foundation. Most were made of mahogany and copy Chippendale, Queen Anne and Hepplewhite American antiques.

Kittinger, which still is in business in Buffalo, traces its history back to 1866. A Colonial Williamsburg reproduction made by Kittinger is a high-quality piece of furniture. Your table, if in excellent shape, could be worth more than $1,000.

Q: About 40 years ago, my uncle gave me an interesting light bulb with a crucifix inside it. The cross and the bulb both light up. Can you tell me when this was made and if it’s worth anything?

A: Light bulbs with glowing figural objects inside were first made in the 1930s. They were made with different figures or words inside. Philip Kayatt invented them in 1933. He applied for a patent for a “glow lamp,” a tubular light bulb with a silhouette inside.

In 1941, Kayatt was granted a patent for a glow lamp that could display figural objects. The bulbs contained neon or argon gas. The metal figure inside the bulb was coated with phosphors that made it glow. The drawing accompanying the patent shows a crucifix inside the tubular bulb.

Kayatt was president of Aerolux Kayatt Glow Lights, which later became the Aerolux Light Corp. The company made glow light bulbs from the 1930s until the 1970s, when it was bought by Duro-Lite. Other companies made similar bulbs. The value of glow bulbs can go from $15 to $65.

Q: I read with interest your column about vintage talcum powder tins and the probability that old powder may be contaminated with traces of asbestos. I am 74 and still have some full talcum powder tins I was given as a little girl. The powder still smells good, but how can I tell if it contains asbestos?

A: Don’t worry about testing the powder. It’s not worth the expense and bother. But to be safe, don’t open the tins or use the powder. Inhaling it is the problem. Just enjoy displaying the old tins. Any cosmetic powder sold by U.S. retailers after the mid-1970s is safe to use.

Q: I have a cream-colored Orphan Annie mug with green trim marked “manufactured exclusively for the Wander Co., Chicago, makers of Ovaltine.” It has a picture of Orphan Annie on the front holding up a mug and saying, “Did ja ever taste anything so good as Ovaltine? And it’s good for yuh too.” Her dog, Sandy, is pictured on the back with the words, “Sandy’s running for his Ovaltine.” How much is the mug worth?

A: The comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” was created by Harold Gray in 1924. The Little Orphan Annie radio series debuted in 1931. It was sponsored by Ovaltine from 1931 to 1940.

Your mug is one of the premiums offered to listeners. Its value today is about $15.

Terry Kovel’s column is syndicated by King Features. Write to: Kovels, (Las Vegas Review-Journal), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

 

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