Railway car may be  valuable Vaseline glass

At the present time only two Vaseline glass Railway Cookie Jars are known to exist. A perfect example was estimated to be worth $1,200 to $1,600 a decade ago.

Question: We inherited a fancy yellow pressed-glass biscuit jar my mother-in-law bought at a house sale years ago. It is about a foot long and resembles an old-fashioned train or trolley car. A visitor recently told us it may be valuable, antique Vaseline glass and we would appreciate information. - N.R., Atlantic City

Answer: David Peterson, a leading Vaseline glass authority and specialist collector, founding member of the Vaseline Glass Collectors, Inc. organization and author of "Vaseline Glass: Canary to Contempor-ary," provided much of the following information, based on his extensive research.

A 13 3/4-inch long, transparent pressed-glass Railway Cookie Jar, designed by Melvin L. Blackburn and patented in 1886, was produced by the Bellaire Goblet Co. of Bellaire, Ohio. Offered in clear, blue, amber and canary - the original name for yellow-green Vaseline glass - the covered piece has molded panels, wheels, windows and doors as well as a decorative roof border. One of the Vaseline glass tableware products made by Bellaire before the firm's move to Findlay, Ohio in 1888, the cookie jar is very rare. Only two are presently known to exist and no reproductions have been made.

Popular from the 1880s to the 1920s, Vaseline glass's name refers to the color of petroleum jelly. Its distinctive shade, achieved by adding 2 percent Uranium Dioxide when the glass formula is made, turns bright fluorescent green when tested with an ultraviolet light, conclusive validation of Vaseline glass authenticity.

If your piece is a genuine Bellaire Vaseline glass Railway Car, it certainly will interest collectors who search for rare Vaseline or pressed pattern glass. Although the item's true present value can only be established by a current sale, a perfect example was estimated to be worth $1,200 to $1,600 a decade ago.

Additional information about Vaseline glass can be obtained at the Vaseline Collectors Club, Inc. website, www.vaselineglass.org.

Question: I own a 15-inch long wood plane found in my late uncle's tool box. It is marked "Stanley Rule & Level Co. No.27." What can you tell me about it? - W.R., Newfield

Answer: Your tool, invented by renowned designer of carpenters' hand planes, Leonard Bailey, is classified as an early transitional, wood-bottom jack plane. Such planes were made from 1869 to 1917 by Stanley Rule & Level Co. of New Britain, Conn. Founded in 1843 as a hardware manufacturer, the company experienced a number of mergers, acquisitions and name revisions as its product lines, market and sales volume expanded.

Known for its innovative hand tools, Stanley is a brand that attracts many craftsmen as well as folks who collect old tools. Your No. 27 jack plane, although somewhat common, has become a popular transitional model that sells for $120 to $145. Highest dollars are paid for prime, working planes with pristine japanned metal as well as wooden base, handle and knob that are without wood worm damage or discoloration.

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, N.J. 08232. Email: treasures17@comcast.net

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

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