Facebook Twitter



Question: I collect unusual tin cookie cutters. Where can I find them?

- Betty Langston, St. Joseph,Mich.

Answer: For handmade unusual tin cutters, or to request unusual shaped examples made to order, write L. Winckler Tinsmith, 612 S. Fourth St., Aurora, IL 60505-5141. Enclose $2 and a self-addressed double-stamped long envelope for his Cookie Cutter Catalogue & Price List; the $2 fee is refundable upon order.

For more information phone Winckler at 630-892-4941.

Question: I'm interested in learning more about antique sewing machines and their value. Is there a book or source I can consult?

- Ann Wilcox, Houston, Texas

Answer: The best book on the subject is "The Encyclopedia of Early American Sewing Machines - The History of the Sewing Machine, American Sewing Machines From 1850-1920, Restoring Early Sewing Machines, Toy Sewing Machines, And Much More," by Carter Bays.

It is available for $43 postpaid for readers of this column (its regular price is $47.50) from Carter Bays, Box 6782, Columbia, SC 29206. You can phone Bays at 1-800-332-2297, or send e-mail to him at bays@cs.sc.edu or look for Web site under "Carter Bays."

Question: I have an old wooden wall telephone that needs to be restored and repaired. Who does this work, or where can I get missing parts?

- Al Conway, Albany, N.Y.

Answer: Write Richard and Judi Marsh, c/o Chicago Old Telephone, 327 Carthage St., Sanford, NC 27330-4206, or phone 1-800-843-1320 to request a free color Parts 'n Phones Catalogue.

Question: Where can I find information on toy helicopters and military planes made of metal manufactured by Tootsietoy, Dinky, and other such makers?

- Rick Phillips, Albuquerque,


Answer: You'll find countless die cast and tin examples in "Collecting Toy Airplanes - An Identification & Value Guide," by Ron Smith (Krause). It is available for $26.20 postpaid from Ace Enterprises, P.O. Box 59354, Chicago, IL 60659.

The book also lists toy airplane collectors and periodicals.

Question: Where can I find information on old bubble gum cards that came wrapped with bubble gum in wax paper packs? I found boxes of them among my childhood possessions, and wonder if they're worth anything.

- Ted Samuels, Biloxi, Miss.

Answer: It's not only the cards that have value; the wax paper wrappers do, too. A 96-page publication devoted to the world of such nonsport collectibles, is The Wrapper. It is published eight times a year for $22 ($24 Canada) or $42.50 for a two-year 16-issue subscription ($46.50 Canada). You can get a current issue for $2 plus three stamps.

Write to: Les Davis, 1811 Moore Ct., St. Charles, IL 60174. Or phone publisher Les Davis at 630-443-9690 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST for more information.

Question: I have an antique desk I purchased in 1976. About five years ago, I noticed what looked like sawdust on the bare floor where the back part of the desk stands. How can I tell if there are microscopic insects present, and if so, how can I treat such a problem?

- Carrie Adair, Bellaine, Texas

Answer: No doubt your desk is infested with what's known as the powder post beetle, which burrows in the wood, leaving a fine dropping of sawdust. Such a problem can be recognized by small holes left by the insects.

Such furniture should be promptly removed from other furniture or wood items so that they won't be infested as well.

To safely treat the furniture and destroy the infestation, John Conrad, who does restoration work at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, says to first oil the piece inside and out with Conrad's Wood Youth Food Oil. Then after at least 24 hours, wipe the furniture off with a dampened cloth containing alcohol and a little of Conrad's oil. By doing this, any insects, termites and worms and their eggs will not survive. The oil softens the eggs so they cannot hatch and the wood becomes inedible.

Conrad's Wood Youth Food Oil is available in two 16-ounce bottles for $30 postpaid shipped UPS from John Conrad, 21494 Avon Lane, Southfield, MI 48075. Phone Conrad at 810-569-5051 for more information.

Question: I have an antique table that's dried out and warped having been stored in a damp basement for years. What (if anything) can be done to save it?

- Clara Brown, Milwaukee, Wis.

Answer: John Conrad says to restore all wood products, paneling, floors, statuary and furniture, whether newly made or centuries old, is to apply Conrad's Wood Youth Food Oil and leave it on for at least 24 hours.

Badly neglected pieces, however, will absorb the oil almost immediately and must be fed again and again until stabilized.

When ready, wipe the scum that emerges from the wood with a cloth dampened with water and follow with a dry cloth. If this is not done, the scum and dirt will seep back into the wood.

Warps, checking and cracking will gradually disappear. Allow one day for every year of age of the wood for the stabilization to occur. The piece will take on a new life, and stay that way, if treated with the oil twice a year.

It is available in two 16-ounce size bottles for $30 postpaid shipped UPS from John Conrad, 21494 Avon Lane, Southfield, MI 48075; phone 810-569-5051.

Write Anita Gold, P.O. Box 597401, Chicago, IL 60659; enclose an addressed stamped envelope. Due to the high volume of mail, not all letters can be answered, but priority will be given to those that include a copy of the column and the name of the paper it ran in.