It's not unusual for someone to write me and tell what valuable treasure they have recently found tucked away in their grandparents' attic for over 52 years.
But it's very rare when someone on Third Street in Marietta writes me and tells me they have a Lionel train set, brand new, still in the box, and the color of it is pink. The pink Lionel train sets made for girls in 1957-1958 was not a success, and few were made. My auction records show that in 2007 an auction house in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, sold a pink Lionel train set brand new still in the box for $18,000. I have contacted an auction house that specialize in selling Lionel trains and other toy items, and they're very interested in selling it through their catalog auction in November. Readers will keep you up to date what this item sells for at auction.
Question: I have a set of four wrought iron chairs and a table that are marked Antarenni Wrought Iron Manufacturing Corp, 76 Rochester Ave., Brooklyn '33' New York. Can you tell me how old they are and what it would be worth today? - S.K., Marietta.
Answer: Brooklyn '33' New York was a postal code, rather than a Zip code, which means your table and chairs were made before 1963. When Zip codes were first used, one and two digit postal codes were part of U.S. mailing address from 1943-1963. The company changed its name to Antarenni Industries by 1969, and went out of business sometime in the 1970s. The company manufactured and distributed wrought iron dinette sets and chairs. Your set in good condition is worth $125.
Q.: Can you tell me anything about a Ballantine Burton Ale Bottle I found in a basement of a home on Front Street in Marietta? Is it worth anything to a bottle collector? - T.E., Devola.
A.: Ballantine Burton Ale was an ale brewed and aged at one of Ballantine's plants in Newark, New Jersey. It was never sold to the public. Bottles were given as Christmas gifts to Ballantine distributors and V.I.P.s, including President Truman and President Dwight Eisenhower. Full Ballantine Burton Ale bottles with the Truman label sell for $100 each. An empty bottle sells for less.
Q.: My great-great-grandfather was an early settler who settled in Washington County in the early 1800s. I have a couple items I would like to donate to a local museum that belonged to him. Should I talk to an attorney before doing so? I don't want to end up losing these items. - B.C., Marietta.
A.: If you're considering giving a gift to a museum or historical society or some other tax exempt organization, be sure to obtain a written agreement. You can give your donation with the legally binding requirements that if your item is sold, the money will be used for more art or collectibles, not for buildings or salaries or other types of collections. If the museum won't take it under these conditions, you can require that the donation be returned to you when the organization no longer wants it. If the museum or organization balks at this request, give your donation to someone else.
Larry Koon is the author of several price guide books on antiques and collectibles. His column appears every Monday on Life. Send letters to Treasure in the Attic, c/o The Marietta Times, 700 Channel Lane, Marietta 45750; or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.