Antique Halloween pear the stuff of nightmares

Terry and Kim Kovel
Cowles Syndicate
Imagine seeing a glowing, grinning pear in the dark of night! This papier-mache lantern was an antique Halloween decoration.

Halloween originated in harvest festivals, and some seasonal fruits and vegetables, especially pumpkins and apples, are part of today's celebrations. Historically, symbols of the season included other plants.

We may think of jack-o'-lanterns as strictly pumpkins, but they come from a legend of a man who wanders the earth for eternity with a lantern carved out of a turnip to light his way. Decorative Halloween lanterns were made in many other forms, like this papier-mache pear lantern shaped like a fall fruit that sold for $3,000 at Bertoia Auctions.

Halloween lanterns constructed from papier-mache and pulp experienced their popularity during the 1930s to the 1950s in the U.S. Pumpkin- or gourd-shaped lanterns, along with cats, witches and devils, were much more common than pears, which makes this lantern a rare find. Textures and designs were made more pronounced using papier-mache pulp. The eyes and teeth viewed through the cutout openings are on a separate piece of paper slipped inside the lantern. Used as lanterns with burning candles inside, they are highly flammable, adding to the rarity of this lantern's existence.

Question: I have a 1931 four-burner gas stove with three drawers and an oven. It is the Wedgewood model by Monogram. It is a creamy yellow color with dark edges. It is clean and in excellent condition. I was hoping to sell it for $4,500.

Answer: Wedgewood stoves were made in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. James Graham opened the first Wedgewood factory in 1919, and the company survived for several decades, known for their products' quality and durability. Some were also sold under the name Wedgewood-Holly, but the brand disappeared by the early 1970s. Restored Wedgewood stoves from the 1930s are priced anywhere from $800 to $4,900. Recent completed sales are scarce. We found a 1930s Wedgewood stove that sold for $615 (with buyer's premium) at auction.

Q: I bought a set of shrimp-pink colored Boontonware dishes in 1956. It has a trademark on the bottom: (r)1203-10 USA. Do they have any value?

A: Boontonware was inspired by the indestructible dinnerware used by the U.S. Navy during World War II. Boonton Molding Co. began making the inexpensive, long-lasting plastic dishes in 1946 in Boonton, New Jersey. Since 2001, the dinnerware has been made in Ashtabula, Ohio, by GMR Technology. The simple designs are popular with the Amish and are sold by the case of 24. They are also popular at flea markets and garage sales and are sought by campers for their durability. A place setting for eight similar to yours recently sold for $45.

Q: I'd like some information on an accordion that has been in my family for a long time, always tucked away in a closet. It's marked "Hohner Accordion, Made in Germany." It's not in good condition. One side strap is broken, and the metal parts are rusted. Do you have any information about its origins and value?

A: Matthias Hohner (1833-1902) was a clockmaker who began making harmonicas in Trossingen, Germany, in 1857. The company eventually became the world's largest manufacturer of harmonicas. Hohner accordions were first made in 1903. The company was run by members of the family for several years. It is still in business, with headquarters in Trossingen. Some Hohner accordions are now made in China and Italy. Musical instruments need to be played regularly to keep them in good condition. The interior parts, felt and glue will dry out eventually. An accordion that's not in good condition, with rusted metal parts, is not worth much.

Q: I am strangely drawn to vintage hobnail double-arm table lights from the 1950s and 1960s. I think they remind me of visiting the houses of my aunts and uncles. What can you tell me about that style of light fixtures?

A: The hobnail milk glass pattern was introduced by the Fenton Art Glass Company at its glass factory in Williamstown, West Virginia, in 1939. By 1952, milk glass hobnail became Fenton's flagship pattern. The design was made with clear and translucent colored glass as well. You can tell if the milk glass is truly an antique by holding it up to natural lighting. Real milk glass is slightly translucent. Antique milk glass will have an iridescent rainbow in the rim of the glass. Double-shade hobnail milk glass and brass student lamps sell for less than $100.

TIP: Old linens can be bleached occasionally, but frequent bleaching will weaken the fabric.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers' questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Farm Forum), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at