Belsnickel is part of the Christmas lore of Germany, other German-speaking countries and the Pennsylvania Dutch, a community in the United States since the 1830s. He is a companion of Saint Nicholas, but while Santa carries a bag of gifts for good children, Belsnickel spreads candy for good children then beats the bad children with his whip. Today’s Santa Claus is fat and jolly, and dressed in a red and white outfit. Belsnickel wears a ragged beige coat with a rope belt and a fur collar. Collectors of antique Christmas decorations look for old ornaments and figurines of Belsnickel used in the 19th century. They are often made of papier mache. He has a long tongue and carries a sack of candy in one hand and a whip in the other. Christmas legends in the 19th century included other dark characters, including Krampus. This antique German Belsnickel with a painted face and white beard is wearing a hooded white robe. It was auctioned at Cordier Auctions in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The unsigned figure sold for $168.
Q. I’d like some information about an old brass desk clock that has no markings other than “R.M.S. Celtic.” I’d like to know where it was made and where it came from to be in Louisville, Kentucky.
A. We don’t know how it got to Kentucky, but we can tell you where it came from. The clock is from the ocean liner RMS Celtic, which was launched in Belfast, Ireland, on April 4, 1901. The ship made its maiden voyage three months later, leaving Liverpool, England, on July 26 and arriving in New York City on Sept. 16, carrying almost 3,000 passengers. It became a troop ship for a few months during World War I and then reverted to carrying passengers and cargo. The RMS Celtic survived hitting a mine in 1917, being torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1918, and collisions with other ships in 1925 and 1927, but it ultimately met its demise in 1928 after being shipwrecked on the rocks in Ireland. The ship was scrapped in 1933.
Q. I want to learn more about earrings I found in my mother’s jewelry box. They are silver round clip-ons with an Asian design on a black background. Are they old? Are they worth anything?
A. The country of Siam changed its name to Thailand in 1939. It was renamed Siam in 1946, then changed again to Thailand in 1949. Siam sterling silver jewelry was handmade from the 1930s to the 1970s, and American soldiers in Thailand brought some home as gifts. Most of it is sterling silver with niello, a mixture of copper, silver and lead that looks like black enamel. It was used to fill in or surround designs etched in the silver by the artisan. The baked alloy hardens, then it is sanded and buffed. Designs are typically dancing figures, and animals or buildings from Buddhist and Hindu legends or Thai culture. Many pieces are marked “Siam Sterling.” Your button-style earrings are worth $25. More elaborate pieces with silver filigree are worth about $35 to $60. Bracelet and earrings sets sell from about $60 to $75.
Q. After my mother died, we found a Pairpoint lamp in a box in the attic. It looks original except for the cord. There are two stamps under the shade dated July 9, 1901. It has puffy butterflies. The base has a diamond-shaped stamp underneath. Can you tell me what this might be worth?
A. Thomas J. Pairpoint founded the Pairpoint Manufacturing Company in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1880. The company joined with nearby glassworks and made glass, lamps and silver-plated pieces. Reverse-painted glass shades and molded shades known as “puffies” were made until the 1930s. The company became the Pairpoint Glass Company in 1957. It moved to Sagamore, Massachusetts, in 1970 and now makes luxury glass items. Look closely at the patent date on your lamp. Are you sure it’s not 1907? Pairpoint’s Papillon (butterfly) boudoir lamp marked “patented July 9th - 1907” sells at auction for about $2,000.
Q. I have Ty Teenie Beanie Babies Chip the Cat, a toy from a McDonald’s Happy Meal. I’m wondering if she’s worth anything. It has the tag and is in very good shape.
A. Beanie Babies, plush beanbag animals, were introduced by Ty Warner, Inc. in 1993 and sold for $5 each. A collecting frenzy developed after the company began retiring some animals in 1995 and restricting distribution of new ones, driving prices up. By 1999, the collecting fad faded and prices began to fall. Ty Teenie Beanie Babies were first included in McDonald’s Happy Meals in 1997. New sets of Teenie Beanie Babies were included in Happy Meals in 1999, 2000 and 2004. Chip the Cat is No. 12 in the 1999 set. The toy in its original packaging sells online for as little as 99 cents.
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