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"Prisoner art' recycled materials

From the 1930s to the '50s a craft that used discarded cigarette packs was popular. The empty packages were carefully folded into small strips, and each strip was folded so that the identical part of the pattern would show. The strips were then woven together.

The graphic designs on the package made it possible to show a camel's head on each link, a green line from a Kool package or a red design from Winston.

Today, the picture frames, purses, baskets, belts and other folded-cigarette-pack pieces are called "prisoner art." It is claimed that they were made in jails. Even though it might have been a pastime for convicts, it was also a popular activity for teenagers.

Today people still make folded-paper pieces by recycling cigarette packs, newspapers, gum wrappers and packaging materials. A 1930s prisoner-art purse sells today for about $100; a picture frame for $30 to $75.

Pullman chair

Question: My father's family has had a wooden chair for about 100 years. The chair has wooden arms, a cane back and an upholstered seat. On the back of the chair is a small brass plate that reads, "Pullman Coach Company, Chicago, Illinois." Can you tell me anything about it?

Answer: George M. Pullman started outfitting railroad cars in 1859 and was soon making his own luxury cars. His company was incorporated in 1867.

In 1880, Pullman established his own industrial community at Lake Calumet, south of Chicago.

Your chair probably was used in a railroad dining car or lounge car.

Flower frogs

Question: My latest flea-market find is a pottery vase shaped like an almost naked frog posed to look like a provocative woman. Could this be the Bashful Charlotte or Draped Lady frog made by Cambridge? I know they are valuable.

Answer: Cambridge Pottery and the Cambridge Glass Co. worked in Cambridge, Ohio, in the early 1900s. The glass factory made flower frogs, some shaped like a woman. The term "frog" refers to a type of flower holder, not to a frog-shaped object.

The Bashful Charlotte flower holder is a figure of a woman trying to cover her nakedness with her hands. At her feet is a mound filled with small holes to hold flower stems.

The Cambridge pottery made simple pottery vases. Many of them had brown-toned glazes.

Centerpiece bowl

Question: My grandmother left me a silver centerpiece bowl and two matching candlesticks. They're beautiful, but I don't understand the bowl. It has a cover pierced all over with holes. Why?

Answer: Your centerpiece bowl dates from the early years of this century, when similar bowls were made in the United States and in England. The bowl was filled with water, and short-stemmed flowers were inserted through the holes. That way, the whole cover was hidden by flowers.

The going rate

Carnation celluloid bookmark, bright red, "Souvenir of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco-1915," compliments of Pacific Coast condensed milk, 2[ by 5| inches: $45.

Iron spectacles, original lenses, English, circa 1765, with iron case: $250.

Folding wooden checkerboard, circa 1840, original black and red wood pieces, 14 by 14 inches: $425.

Queen Anne poplar chest, New England, lift lid, scalloped straight bracket feet, original red stain, circa 1750, 25\ by 46{ inches: $575.

Send questions to: Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o the Times, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.