Spice up your collection with salt, pepper shakers

Looking for an inexpensive, colorful collectible? Look for pottery and porcelain salt and pepper shakers that you can display and use.

Figural ceramic salt and pepper shakers are easy to find. In "Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide," they are listed at $6 to $200. At yard sales, you can find much lower prices.

The most expensive are "huggers," two shakers that actually hug each other by touching. The most famous of the huggers are sets by Van Tellingen. "Nodders" are sets with a base with two holes that hold the shakers; each shaker has a tubelike part that sits in the hole. Touch the base, and the shakers nod up and down or sideways.

There are also "stackers," shakers made so one shaker is kept on top of the other like a pipe in an ashtray. "Condiment sets" consist of a tray, two shakers and a small bowl with a lid and a spoon that can be used for mustard. You can also find shakers that rock, some that make a noise when lifted from the table and many that reflect other personal interests, like sports, food, animals or comic figures.

Q: My husband bought a footstool at our volunteer fire department's annual fundraising sale. The faded label on the bottom appears to say "Mahogany West Indies, Africa, Mahogany Association Inc., copyright S.A." Can you tell us something about the stool's origins?

A: The Mahogany Association was a trade organization formed in the early 20th century. Its mission was to protect manufacturers who used genuine mahogany from those who cheated by dying less expensive wood so it looked like mahogany.

The association disbanded in 1969, so your husband's stool was made in the 20th century, but before 1970. The label was used on furniture made with mahogany from the West Indies (considered "true mahogany") or Africa (the African tree is a different species, but it's distantly related and is also considered mahogany). African mahogany is usually lighter in color and has a slightly pink tint.

Q: I have a round ice-cream scoop marked "Benedict Indestructo." It's also marked "pat. -- 20 to a quart." What is it worth, who made it and how old is it?

A: Your ice cream scoop was one of several Indestructo brand scoops, all nickel-plated brass, made in the 1920s by the Benedict Manufacturing Co. of Syracuse, N.Y. Benedict, in business from 1894 to 1953, also manufactured cast, stamped and embossed metal novelties, hollowware, clock cases and desk sets.

Your scoop is medium-sized 20 scoops total a quart of ice cream. Indestructo scoops ranged from the large eight-scoop size (just eight scoops filled a quart) to the small 30-scoop size. Most Indestructo scoops sell for $75 to $100.

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.