Antiques & Collectibles: Gold and gems enhance stickpin collection

Values of these six heirloom stickpins range from $25 to $100 based on metals and stones used to make them as well as age and condition.

Question: Attached is a photo of six heirloom stickpins. Five are decorated with authentic gemstones set in 12 karat or 14 karat gold. Information about the pins and their worth is appreciated. - C.C., Ventnor

Answer: Stickpins or tie pins, long, straight or twisted pins with plain or modestly decorated heads, were men's jewelry from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. Such pins originally were viewed as an easy, workable way to secure fashionable gentlemen's neckwear. However, by the turn of the last century elaborate, expensive stickpins had become personal statements of a man's wealth, breeding and social standing. After World War I, when use of men's formal wear declined and popularity of neckties rose, women began collecting stickpins and wearing them as lapel or dress ornaments.

Materials used to make stickpins have included precious metals, gemstones and pearls as well as plated base metals, faux gems, coral, ivory, cameos and enamel work. Animals, insects, birds, flowers, serpents, luck and love symbols, sports, celestial, military and fraternal organization motifs are popular stickpin cap designs.

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Your stickpins with values from left to right are:

• A gold hand with diminutive diamond. Popular during the 1970s and 1980s, valued at $50 to $65.

• This pin's large translucent, milky white stone with dark moss-like inclusions is moss agate. Favorites from 1890 to 1910, moss agates usually are found on gentlemen's jewelry, $70 to $100.

• A small ruby set in a gold lovers' knot. The knot, which signifies love and fidelity, dates back to antiquity and was used extensively as a jewelry motif from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. Value is $65 to $75.

• Edwardian era (1901-1914) pin featuring a tiny sapphire on a gold, shield-shape cage setting, $60 to $70.

• The 1915 to 1925 oblong turquoise in a gold setting is a transitional pin combining fluid Art Nouveau lines with emerging Art Deco abstract geometrical design. Valued at $60 to $75.

• A carved, mother-of-pearl crescent moon tops this 1880-1900 plated pin, $25 to $30.

Question: My collectibles associated with a TV program I enjoyed as a child include a Madame Alexander 14-inch Shari Lewis doll, a Charlie Horse puppet in its original packaging, a Shari Lewis vinyl lunchbox and an uncut paper doll book. Please comment about the the items and their value. - T.B., Williamstown

Answer: Bronx born ventriloquist, puppeteer, TV host and author, Shari Lewis (1933-1998) charmed children during the early 1960s and again in the 1990s. Lewis and hand puppet friends Lamb Chop, Charlie Horse, Hush Puppy and Wing Ding captured kids' attention and consumer dollars when playtime versions of Shari and her sidekicks as well as related games, lunchboxes and other items were produced for fans.

Early Madame Alexander Shari dolls in excellent condition sold for $145 to $225 during the past several years and a mint-in-box example with original gold taffeta and net dress, red satin sash, underwear, shoes, stockings and little pal Lamb Chop fetched $600. Charlie Horse puppets such as yours are valued at $25 to $30 while 1963 "Shari Lewis and her Friends" lunchboxes - each with an Aladdin Thermos - sold for $35 to $75 in 2012 and somewhat rare uncut paper doll books in excellent condition are bringing $60 to $95.

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:

Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.

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