Q. I am a candlestick collector. My question is: Have copies ever been reproduced of certain antique candleholders shaped like a coiled, flat strap of iron mounted in a turned wooden base? If so, how can one tell a reproduction from an authentic example? Also, can you provide me with any information about such candleholders as to their age, origin, value and so on?
A. Such candleholders were called all sorts of strange names in the past -- snake, worm, twist, helix, spiral, spinner, wezzle, spitter and Martin Luthers. They were fashioned from a long strap or strip of iron that was twisted line a long "banana curl" into a coil or spiral that held a candle. Attached inside the coiled shaft was a small candle socket with one or two tabs or finger grips that protruded out from between the spaces of the spiral shaft, enabling the socket to turn up, down and around the coil to raise and lower a candle. The top of the coiled shaft had a hook for hanging and carrying, while the bottom of the shaft was either attached to a flat, disk-like iron base on legs, or if ending in a spike, driven into a round, wooden turned base like the holder you describe. Such candleholders can be from 150 to 300 years old. Imported from England as well as other countries, they were used in America before and during colonial times. Those with wooden turned bases have been reproduced by Virginia metalcrafters for Williamsburg Restoration Reproductions and were listed in their catalogue and described as: "Snake Candleholder, Wrought iron. An unusual and distinctive candlestick with a wooden base. Seven-and-one-half-inches." The reproductions look and feel very smooth, and can be recognized by their single finger grip or tab that resembles a small flat key with a hole in the middle. Authentic examples, usually dated from the 18th century, show a hand-turned rather than machine turned wooden base and have a finger grip or tab that ends in a simple little curlicue as a touch of the blacksmith's art. Those dating from the 18th century can sell for $150 or more, depending on condition and features. Also, authentic examples on wooden bases are usually taller than those that have been reproduced.
Q. I have a "bubble" made by Mattel in 1968. This three piece toy came out when men went to the moon. Batteries can be put in the machine under the "bubble," which then travels on treads. It's hard to explain, but could you please tell me who would be interested in this toy, and about how much it's worth?
A. The toy's value would depend on its condition and whether or not it still has its original box. To learn its value and to sell it, write to space toy collector, Dale Kelley, 3941 W. Belle Plain Av., Chicago 60618 and enclose a drawing or photo of the piece. The "bubble" you describe is most likely a dome-shaped outer spaceship, and such space toys, robots and especially "Star War" toys are very much sought today. A book that pictures and describes various space toys is "Robot," by Pierre Boogarts, $13.95 plus 50 cents postage from Kelley. Kelley also is the publisher of "Antique Toy World," a fascinating information and picture packed monthly magazine, $10 for a year or $18 for a two-year subscription. The magazine is a valuable source for toy information and has subscribers all over the world. It also has a classified advertising section. Incidentally, anyone who purchased Skylab souvenirs, hang on to them.