Question: Enclosed is photo of an Avon bottle, one of a number of Avon milk glass items I collected over the years. I will be selling my Avon collection with other things at a neighborhood yard sale in May and would like information about Avon milk glass and values. - M.U., Marmora
Answer: Although Avon tableware, decorative, bath and boudoir items - especially perfume bottles - were "hot" collectibles from the mid-1980s through the 1990s, values dropped dramatically during the past decade.
Avon milk glass pieces, created in molded hobnail and a variety of pressed patterns, were produced in white, as well as popular pastel blue, pink and green hues. Many Avon aficionados who admired the pieces eventually built large collections for use and display.
Your 6 1/2-inch high Avon Grecian Pitcher, which held 5 ounces of the company's "Skin-So-Soft" bath oil, was made from 1972 to 1976. Its classical design imitates ancient sculptures of elegant Greek God-desses.
Asking prices for such an Avon object presently are as high as $12, but most range from $5 to $6 and actual sales have been in the $1 to $3 range. Since you will be offering your piece at a yard sale, a $2 or $3 tag would seem appropriate, if the pitcher is mint with original label.
Question: I have inherited an item identified as a "1925 Paul Fox Rapping Hand" from a great-uncle who was an amateur magician. Attached to the wood hand's wrist is a velvet and lace cuff. Your comments about the hand and its worth would be appreciated. - B.E., Port Republic
Answer: Also known as a "talking hand," your great-uncle's gift has its roots in the first mysterious spirit rappings proclaimed to have been experienced from 1848 by two young sisters, Margaret and Kate Fox, of Hydesville, N.Y. Throughout their lives the women performed as spirit communicators, enthralling 19th-century audiences by ostensibly receiving rapped messages from dead people.
As interest in Spiritualism grew throughout the Civil War and, later, World War I, inventors patented a variety of mechanical rapping hands made of papier mache, carved wood and plastic. Generally resting on wood boards, tables or books, early rappers were operated by manipulating thread, wires, magnets or balancing systems and later models by clockwork or electricity.
American magician, magic designer and inventor, Paul Fox (1898-1976) created a number of well-known coin, card and cups-and-balls tricks currently used by magicians. Your circa 1925 Fox cuffed wooden hand tapped out one rap for "yes" and two raps for "no" in response to questions posed by performers or their audiences. Advertised as a hand that "does not require a specially constructed board to move and rap" the Fox rapper is a favorite of today's magic collectors who have paid $500 to own one in mint, working condition.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email: email@example.com
Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.