Time zone watches have timeless appeal for cosmopolites

Tim Kovel and Kim Kovel
Cowles Syndicate

The Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone watch features the world's 24 time zones. Escale ("stopover" in French) was created to appeal to the world traveler not only with the time zones, but with the colorful flags of the world represented on the watch's face. The images of the flags also link the contemporary wristwatches to earlier days of Louis Vuitton, when travelers could customize their LV luggage with flags of the countries where they traveled. 

This Escale watch in a signed box was estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $3,000 at a Rago auction in 2021.

This watch was introduced in 2010, and there is still an Escale line. Louis Vuitton's annual designs include a resort collection also called Escale.

Question: One of my most vivid memories is walking into our kitchen and watching my mom make coffee with a glass coffee percolator. Watching the water bubble up through a center tube and drip over grounds to become coffee was amazing. I saw one at a flea market called a Pyrex Flameware coffee percolator. Are old coffeemakers valuable collectibles?

Answer: Coffee never goes out of style, and while coffeemakers have progressed beyond the percolators, the older pots are becoming popular again. The 6-cup clear glass Pyrex Flameware example was found in most kitchens in the 1960s. It took about 15 minutes to make a pot, compared to the 2-minute cup of coffee from a Keurig today. These pots came with many pieces. Complete pots sell from $40 to $150. 

Q: I have a very old Hudson Bay blanket that I used at camp over 50 years ago. I know it's old because it has only one colored stripe. The new blankets have five or more colored stripes, and I was told that the number of stripes tells the age. It is in almost perfect condition. What is it worth?

A: The stripes were used to tell the size, not the age. Each stripe represented the size of the blanket.

These wool blankets were originally traded for beaver pelts. Hudson Bay Company was a fur-trading post incorporated in 1670. A new blanket sells for about $300. Early blankets sell for more to collectors.

Q: My grandmother and mother were both talented pianists. Both are gone now, but I still have a case full of old sheet music. It is in terrible shape, but I'm curious about its collectability.

A: Sheet music published after the 1820s with interesting graphics is the most collectible. Its value is determined by age, popularity, rarity, condition, fame of artist and category. Pictures of special categories like automobiles or political events bring more money than earlier, more artistic covers.

You can date sheet music by the copyright date, which was required after 1871. But be aware that sheet music was printed long after the copyright year engraved on the original printing plates.

It sounds like your sheet music is not in good shape. To be valuable, it should be in good condition with all pages intact and not trimmed to store in piano benches. 

Q: I have a pair of gold-tone costume jewelry earrings that I love even though they are not real gold. A small green spot has appeared on each one where the post attaches. Can the spots be removed? Are the earrings still safe to wear? 

A: The green spots, called verdigris (or, less formally, "green gunk"), are a patina that can form on copper, bronze, brass and gold or silver plate.

You can clean it off your earrings and continue wearing them. You can try removing small spots with a toothpick, soft-bristled toothbrush, pencil eraser or microfiber cloth. If you need something stronger, mix a small amount of dishwashing detergent with warm water and use this to clean your jewelry.

If your earrings don't have pearls or foil-backed rhinestones, you can dilute white vinegar or lemon juice in water, soak a cotton ball in the solution, and hold it to the green spot. Or apply ketchup to the spot; it is acidic, and its thick consistency means it won't run like a liquid.

But be careful when you use acids to clean jewelry! They can discolor gold-tone metals, damage pearls (both real and fake) and foil-backed stones, and weaken some glues.

To keep verdigris from forming, store your pieces separately, avoid exposing them to moisture, oils and cosmetics, and make sure your skin is clean and dry when you wear them. 

TIP: Use eyeglass-cleaning tissues to clean the glass on small pictures.