Early presses used to bind, not print, books

Ever stop to think about how a book was made in earlier centuries? There still are craftsmen making books much the same way. The paper had to be made. Then the story was written or printed on each page. The pages were stitched together in groups called signatures. They were then put in a book press to be creased and flattened properly. The signatures were assembled, joined and might be pressed again. A cover was added, and once again the book was pressed.

The book press was invented by the 15th century. It was made of two boards held together by screws that could be tightened. The book was put between the boards, then the screws were tightened to press the book pages between the boards. After a day, the pressed book was removed.

A vintage book press is useful today to press dried flowers, to straighten paper cut-outs or postcards, or to make books. Modern book presses are available. So are instructions for making your own press for about $15.

Antique book presses were often made with inlaid wood and attractive hardware, and were decorative as well as useful.

Q: I inherited a recliner that looks like a Stickley chair, but it’s stamped “Bastian Brothers, Rochester, N.Y.” The leg rest has a “patent applied for” tag labeled “Hubbard, Eldredge & Miller.” Can you estimate age and value?

A: Hubbard, Eldredge & Miller, not Bastian Bros., made your chair. Hubbard, Eldredge & Miller made Mission furniture in Rochester at the turn of the century, just about the same time the various Stickley companies were making Mission furniture.

Bastian Bros. is still in business in Rochester. It was founded in 1895 as a jewelry store, but it is now a manufacturer of custom award pins, medals and similar items. Possibly the name Bastian Bros. is on your chair because Bastian Bros. bought the chair from Hubbard, Eldredge & Miller, either to use or to resell.

Your chair could sell for $1,000 or more if it’s in excellent condition.

Q: I would like information on an 11-inch rag doll I picked up at a garage sale. Her name, printed on her apron, is “Blue Bonnet Sue.” She’s also wearing a blue dress and bonnet. The label on the doll says, “Dakin, made expressly for Nabisco, Inc., 1986, product of Korea.” Does the doll have any value?

A: You have an advertising doll that Nabisco offered free in 1986 to buyers of Blue Bonnet margarine. Blue Bonnet Sue is also the name of an 8-inch plastic advertising doll that Nabisco first offered in 1972 for $1.35 plus a coupon from the margarine package.

We have seen your doll offered for $20 online.

Q: My silver-colored dish is marked “Nambe.” It is very modern looking, and I’m told I can cook in it. Do you know how old it is?

A: Nambé metal dishes date back to 1951. They were very popular in the 1960s and are still being made. Nambé is made of a lightweight silver-colored alloy of aluminum and seven other metals. Pieces are formed in a mold, then hand-finished. The first pieces were free-form bowls and other table dishes.

Today, the company makes not only metal, but also modern glass and porcelain wares.

You can date your dish from the mark. The first mark used was “Nambe” or “By Nambe” in capital letters. The mark was changed to all lower-case letters in 1981. You can use Nambé in a freezer or oven, but not in a dishwasher or microwave. It should not be left standing in water. Scratched pieces can be polished.

Q: My oval side table is mahogany. It’s marked “Imperial, Grand Rapids, Mich.” What can you tell me about it?

A: Imperial Furniture Co. was founded in 1903 by F. Stuart Foote, who had already spent 10 years working for his father at the Grand Rapids Chair Co. Imperial was sold in 1954. The company specialized in making tables, desks and bookcases in Mission and Colonial Revival styles.

Your table, which is most likely Colonial Revival because it’s oval (Mission has square angles), probably dates from the 1930s.

Ralph and Terry Kovel’s column is syndicated by King Features. Write to: Kovels, (Las Vegas Review-Journal and Sun), King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.

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