Question: I am looking for information about this bracelet worn by my mother's Russian great-grandmother when she emigrated to America in the late 1800s. It is marked "56." A jeweler who repaired its catch in 1972 named its stone a Siberian amethyst and said the pearls are real. - M.B., Smithville
Answer: Your heirloom, one of the late Victorian era's fashionable tubular bangle bracelets, is a superb example of fine quality jewelry worn by women at the turn of the last century. The "56" - a zolotnik mark associated with the Old Russian gold standard - signifies your jewelry is 14k gold. The transparent purple quartz gemstone is an amethyst. Favorites of Ancient Egypt-ians, Greeks and Anglo-Saxons, amethysts continue to attract admirers worldwide.
The bracelet's acorn finials and leaves accented with small pearls, elements of earlier art nouveau design, surround its faceted oval cut, prong-set stone. The deep color and brilliance of the jewel are characteristics associated with the Siberian amethysts mentioned by the jeweler. Mined from Siberian deposits exhausted years ago, such stones are considered the highest grade of amethysts and currently command notable prices based on color value rather than carat weight.
Purchase prices of Victorian era amethyst bracelets enhanced with pearls or diamonds have ranged from $250 to $1,500 during the past several years based on maker, size, design, gold weight, stone value and condition. Examples similar to your piece bring $350 to $600.
Question: I would like to know if the turquoise Easy-Bake Oven my late sister received as a gift during the mid-1960s is considered a valuable collectible. It works and is in its original box. Please tell me anything you can about the toy and its worth. - B.T., Wildwood
Answer: Introduced in 1963 by Cincinnati based toy manufacturer Kenner Products, the company's working Easy-Bake Oven was the brainchild of toy inventor Ronald Howes (1926-2010).
Impressed by the way street vendors kept hot food warm with heat lamps, Howes designed a safe, toy mini-oven which originally used a single electric light bulb - later, two bulbs - to provide heat that baked cookies, muffins, pies, cakes, brownies, pizza and biscuits.
Immediately successful, 1960s yellow and turquoise Easy-Bake Ovens were sold with an array of accessories including a mixing bowl, rolling pin, measuring spoons, baking pans, slotted spoon and spatula, a cookbook and a dozen baking mixes.
Produced by Kenner, and later by General Mills and Hasbro, the Easy Bake has been offered in 11 different models throughout more than a half-century and was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2006.
Present prices paid for most boxed, never-used or like-new 1960s and early 1970s working Easy-Bake Ovens with perfect electric cord and lightbulb sockets as well as a full line of accessories and mixes range from $60 to $85, while more common examples can be purchased for $20 to $40.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email:
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