Q: This jar was given to a family member as a wedding gift in the 1920s. What can you tell me about it? It appears to have had a stopper, which is gone.
A: Seen in a photo sent, the reader has what looks to be a vase, where an amethyst glass ball is set on a short crystal stem. The stem is a swirled golf-size glass ball with a bubble in the center. It tops a circular amethyst foot or base.
The piece is actually an ivy ball, alternately called an ivy vase. Most date from the 1920s and '30s, but others were made later. The form is still made by some glass companies. Many are about 7 in. high; others are shorter or taller.
The top ball holds ivy cuttings, placed via the small opening at the top. Add water plus a rooting solution, and you're ready to grow. As the ivy grows, it drapes attractively down the sides of the vase.
When U.S. glass companies churned out multitudes of products, ivy balls were part of many stemware sets. Key to IDing this vase was identifying which company made that exact stem and shape. It's a matter of detective work.
In their heyday, glass companies made many varieties of ivy vases. Cambridge Glass used a nude female figure as a stem, matching ivy vase production to their popular stemware design. Morgantown Glass produced a "Golfball" pattern, where the stem ball is dimpled.
Fenton, Westmoreland and other glass makers also produced ivy vases, many in Hobnail or milk glass.
The reader's ivy ball was made by the H.C. Fry Glass Company of Rochester, Penn. When new, the vase probably had a paper label.
Founded in 1901 by H.C. Fry, the company became known for colored and crystal glass plus finely made cut glass wares. It also made an opal kitchenware line and an art glass called Foval. Fry closed in 1933.
Vases similar to the reader's have sold on eBay for about $60.
Q: I'm very curious about my wooden pinball game marked "Past Times." It operates on a slant and looks almost hand done, with all those pins.
A: Our reader does not have a pinball. The wooden game board seen in a photo is a Bagatelle board, for a game popular since the 18th Century. Most measure about 16 in. by 32 in.
Originally created by reshaping and resizing a billiard table so that it can be played on a tabletop, the wooden board has an arched top that widens toward the bottom.
The idea is to get nine balls past fixed pins and into holes. If the object seems familiar, it is because pachinko, pinball and miniature golf are similar.
The game is very old, but wooden boards for table use have been made for a long time. Past Times was one mass maker of the boards; Corinthian and House of Marbles are others. Today, game balls are steel ball bearings.
Board design has not changed for many decades, so dating individual boards is problematic unless the box has a date on it.
The reader will find similar boards on http://www.worthpoint.com. Pay for short-term use to see identical and differing versions, most sold on eBay's UK site. One new Corinthian board in box sold for $33.02. A new Past Times in its original box brought $74.01.
AUCTION ACTION: Collectors came from as far away as Italy when Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania sold a private collection of pristine Japanese die-cast robots. They came to preview lots, most made in the 1960s, from a carefully cultivated collection. Many were made by companies whose products are now rare and highly collectible, such as Popy, Clover, Takara and Bandai. These were not mass produced to the extent of Hasbro or Mattel.
Highest price at $10,800 went to Takara's Diaclone Big-Powered Convoy, a toy that inspired the later Transformer production known as Ultra Magnus. Mint and choice early Japanese robots have become a pricey market for discerning collectors.
Q: What do Cambridge collectors call the line of nude stems produced by the company?
a. Lady figure
c. Cambridge nudes
d. The 3001 line
A: All but b are correct. Source: "Colors in Cambridge Glass II" by National Cambridge Collectors, Inc. http://www.cambridgeglass.org.
(Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.)