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It's handy, any way you slice it

In the 19th century, before the days of plastic containers, cheese-keepers kept cheese from drying out. These covered dishes also kept the odor of the cheese from spreading. But a cheese dish always had a small hole in the top to discourage mold.

Several kinds of cheese-keepers were made. By 1850, the large cylindrical Stilton cheese was kept on a large round dish and a tall dome about the size of the cheese was placed over the dish and fit inside the dish's raised rim.

A smaller cheese dish became popular in the 1860s. A cheese course was served at dinner parties between the pudding and the dessert. Cheese was cut into squares and passed around on a footed glass or pottery dish.

Some cheese was crumbly, so it was served in a large wedge on a rectangular plate with a rectangular or wedge-shaped cover.

The dishes were usually made of pottery, including creamware, ironstone and majolica. A few glass cheese dishes were made. By the 1870s, cheese dishes were made to match sets of dishes. They remained popular until about 1920. A few still are being made.

Baldridge illustration

Question: I have an 8- by 10-inch print on thick paper. The print shows an Arab man sitting on a rug in the desert. He's drinking from a cup while a woman is sitting nearby. A tent is on the left with a caravan of men and camels in the background. The signature in the bottom left corner is "Baldridge 39." Can you identify the artist?

Answer: Cyrus Leroy Baldridge (1889-1975) was an American artist and illustrator. He was born in Alton, N.Y., and studied at the University of Chicago. He began sketching battlefront scenes during World War I, first as a freelance artist and later for Stars & Stripes.

After the war, he traveled extensively, always sketching. His illustrations can be found in many books. The size of your print suggests that it originally appeared in a book. The number 39 might indicate the year Baldridge painted the picture from which your print was made.

The going rate

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

+ Around the World with Nellie Bly board game, spinner, Milton Bradley, 1910, $55.

+ Peter Max scarf, synthetic fabric, yellow, blue, dark green, reddish-purple, heart center, 1970, 28 by 28 inches, $70.

+ Paul McCartney soaky, soft-plastic head, hard-plastic body, copyright 1965, NEMS Enterprises Ltd., 9 inches, $110.

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

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