Question: The unusual tea kettle shown in my photograph was donated to the nonprofit thrift shop I manage. Information about the item, including value, will be appreciated. - P.B., Somers Point
Answer: The generous donation, a Kamenstein Rocket tea kettle, was patented by M. Kamenstein Inc. of Elmsford, N.Y., in 1999. Just a decade after the company began producing its Rocket kettle, the novelty kitchen item has become a coveted contemporary collectible.
Rocket, one of the models featured in Kamenstein's Motion Kettles collection, is made of highly polished stainless steel and holds 2 1/2 quarts of water. Located at its top is a rotating ring powered by steam produced when water boils inside the pot. As the ring turns on its ball-bearing base, a pair of attached rockets circle the tea kettle. In addition to providing amusement, the kettle's revolving rockets signal users that water is boiling.
Originally available as a premium offered by Gevalia and other coffee companies, the Rocket sold for $70 to $80. However, because the tea kettle is no longer manufactured, demand for the scarce, popular model has driven prices sky-high. During the past year, folks who collect Kamenstein motion kettles have spent $300 to $700 to own a Rocket, based on overall condition and the presence of an original spout cap.
Question: I recently found a little silver shoe that looks like a child's old-fashioned boot. Raised printing on it reads, "Three Feet-in-One Shoe." A small tab is attached to something inside the shoe, but the tab is stuck. Can you tell me anything about my little discovery? - W.N., Wildwood Crest
Answer: The item you have described is one of a series of five silver-plated, figural tape measures made in America during the early 1900s. Produced for use by seamstresses, the whimsical sewing accessories house a yard-long, tabbed tape that can be pulled out and retracts after use.
Collectors whose specialty is sewing accessories are paying $80 to $95 for a Three Feet-in-One Shoe tape measure that operates perfectly and shows little wear. Because your tape measure's mechanism is jammed, it is valued at $10 to $15.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist whose consulting firm, Treasures Unlimited, is based in southern New Jersey. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville 08232. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.