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Question: Please help!!! For the past 8 years I've been rummaging through every flea market and antique/-collectible fair in search of a metal or tin Darlene Ice Cream advertising sign. I continually ask dealers and collectors of old advertising items if they, or someone they know, have such a sign or where I could possibly find one. But no one seems to know or has ever heard of Darlene Ice Cream. . . . I am truly at odds, and know of no other place to turn.

- Darlene Horvath, Audubon, N.J.

Answer: Anyone who has knowledge about the company, or who has a Darlene Ice Cream sign, can write me to contact you.

Or write ice cream memorabilia maven, collector, and buyer Allan Mellis (who says he might have such a sign in his vast collection) at 1115 W. Montana, Chicago, IL 60614-2220 or phone him at 312-327-9123 or FAX 312-327-9456.

Allan desperately wants to buy the April 1931 issue of American Druggist magazine (since he owns the original painting illustrated on the cover picturing a lady in a fur stole at a soda fountain) and any ice cream-related advertising cards and real life postcards; to check out or sell such items or any other ice cream oldies, write him enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply or offer.

Anyone interested in the world of ice cream and soda fountain memorabilia is invited to join The Ice Screamers organization, which offers an annual membership and quarterly newsletter for $15 per year from Donald Snyder, P.O. Box 465, Warrington, PA 18976 or phone 215-343-2676.

Old soda fountains and drugstore memorabilia can be found pictured in color, along with their descriptions and values, in the book "Drugstore & Soda Fountain Antiques" by Douglas Congdon-Martin; it is available with a separate price guide for $32.90 postpaid from Ace Enterprises, P.O. Box 59354, Chicago, IL 60659.

Question: Where can we find Heisey glass nappies and 9-inch plates in the Colonial pattern, and nappies, 6-inch plates, dinner plates, and serving bowls in the Ipswich pattern?

- Rita Zahn, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Answer: You'll find the pieces you want at the 20-30-40 Depression Glass Society's 24th Annual Show & Sale - which this year will feature a "Happy Birthday Heisey" theme and display - on March 9-10 at the Inland Meeting & Expo Center in Westmont, Ill., near Chicago.

For show details and directions or to contact Heisey and other glass dealers who can supply you with the pieces you need, write Angela McEntee c/o the 20-30-40 Society, Box 856, La Grange, IL 60525. For an annual membership, which includes a newsletter loaded with hard-to-find Depression Glass information, enclose $12.

You'll also find Heisey and other glass for sale in "The Daze - The Nation's Market Place For Glass and Pottery." It is published monthly for $21 a year, or $2 a single copy from The Daze c/o Teri Steele, 10271 State, P.O. Box 57, Otisville, MI 48463, or phone Jackie at 800-336-9927 to order a subscription. The Daze also lists Depression Glass clubs, dealers, and sources in various areas.

To learn how to easily recognize Depression glass patterns, send for a copy of "Depression Era Glassware - 3rd Edition" by Carl Luckey, which includes distinct pen/ink drawings (easier to see than on glass) and lists more than 2,000 pieces along with their sizes, colors, patterns, manufacturers, repros, and values. It is available for $25.95 postpaid from Ace Enterprises, P.O. Box 59354, Chicago, IL 60659. Or write me for an extensive list of Depression Glass price guides picturing glass pieces.

Question: How can I find out the value of, and where can I sell glass ball-shaped floats from fishing boats?

- Carol Christenson, Prairie Farm, WI

Answer: To find out everything you ever wanted to know about such floats, write glass fishing float maven, historian, collector, buyer, and beachcomber Stu Farnsworth, P.O. Box 847, Wilsonville, OR 97070-0847. Enclose a photo or drawing of the float along with its measurements, color, condition, markings (if any), and a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply, free evaluation, or offer to buy.

If you find a float with debris inside or netting attached, do NOT remove such important evidence as to its authenticity. Many glass floats (which never saw the sea) are gift-shop reproductions.

Question: Where can I find a price on, or market for a Reynold's ball-point pen with a solid aluminum barrel and plastic sheath that snaps down over the point when not in use? It was one of the first ball-point pens ever on sale, which came on the market after WW II and sold for $15 and was supposed to last a lifetime.

- Roger McKinney, Richmond, Ky.

Answer: If it's a Reynold's International, 1945 aluminum ball-point pen with a gold-filled clip it's worth $125 in excellent condition, or $250 in mint condition, according to the 1996 edition of "Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide - Identification & Values of Over 50,000 Antiques & Collectibles." The price guide is available in a 602-page telephone-directory size edition for $16.95 postpaid from Ace Enterprises, P.O. Box 59354, Chicago, IL 60659. The guide also names buyers and clubs for other listed items.

Question: How can I find out more about those little restaurant glass creamers that I started to collect? Where can I find more?

- Pearl Andrews, Buffalo, N.Y.

Answer: Write Lloyd Bindscheattle, P.O. Box 11, Lake Villa, Ill. 60046-0011; enclose $5 for an annual CREAMERS newsletter subscription published 4 times a year loaded with illustrations, articles, hard-to-find information, and sources galore, or send $1 for a 20-page current or back issue booklet.

Question: How can I restore old stained copper and brass pots, urns, planters, and other pieces that were ruined in a flood? Many of the pieces have black inky or tar-like splotches that are impossible to remove no matter what I use. Are these once-beautiful-but-now-ugly pieces ruined forever? Or should I spray them with gilt paint and hope for the best?

- Martha Harris, Philadelphia, Pa.

Answer: Forget the gilt and go for the gold with MAAS Fine Polishing Cream For All Metals (which cleans, restores, preserves, and polishes to perfection any brass, copper, or other metal pieces - no matter how badly stained, splotched, or flood-damaged they may be). It's available in a large size tube for $12 postpaid, or for big jobs in a 1-pound can for $24.95 postpaid from MAAS International Inc., P.O. Box 128, La Grange, Ill. 60525-0128.