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Almost all chairs and tables were made of wood until the beginning of the 19th century, when new materials inspired new designs.

When it was first used, iron had to be hand-wrought. But with the innovations of the Industrial Revolution, iron could be molded or cast. The earliest cast iron furniture in England, made about 1823, was used in gardens, parks and cemeteries. But it was the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition that made cast iron popular. Benches that looked as if they had been made from branches, ferns or grapevines were made for gardens.

Soon geometric patterns, leaves and scrolls were designed so the furniture resembled Gothic or Rococo Revival styles of wooden furniture. The garden could be furnished with iron chairs, tables, benches, urns, fountains and statues.

Cast iron furniture was seldom used in the United States until the 1840s, when coal, an inexpensive source of carbon, was found in new mines. Soon, indoor furniture - including tables, chairs, beds, umbrella stands, music racks and footstools - was made and used in homes of prominent people. But heavy, ornate iron furniture lost favor by the 20th century. Other materials, such as metal tubing, plastic and even cardboard, inspired new designs.

Frankoma Pottery

Q: I have a yellow Frankoma duck bank and would like to learn more about it. It's 43/4 inches tall.

A: Frankoma Pottery has been in business in Sapulpa, Okla., since 1938. The pottery was founded by John Frank and his wife, Grace Lee Frank. Joniece Frank, one of the couple's daughters, took over the business when her father died in 1973. Duck banks like yours were made from 1980 to 1983. Today the bank sells for about $50. Frankoma Pottery is still working but is no longer owned by the Frank family.

Nashco trays

Q: I have a collection of metal serving trays decorated with paintings of fruit or flowers. They all have a sticker on the back that reads "Nashco Products." Some say Nashco is in New York City, and some say Scranton, Pa. Some of the paintings are signed and some are not.

A: Nashco Products was at one time located in Brooklyn, N.Y., and later moved to Scranton. The company was still in business in the early 1990s, but metal serving trays like yours apparently were made during the middle decades of the 20th century. We have seen Nashco trays with black, blue or white backgrounds in round, square and rectangular shapes. The decorations, done by company artists, were hand-painted using stencils. Some of the painters signed their work, while others did not. Today many collectors hang the trays as wall decorations. The condition of your trays has a big effect on their value. Most Nashco trays in excellent condition sell for $20 to $50.

Send questions to Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, King Features Syndicate, 300 W 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. Go to to sign up and see more than 750,000 free antiques and collectibles prices and to receive free weekly e-mail updates with the latest information on the world of collecting.


If you go: The Sarasota show

What: Sarasota Winter Antiques Show and Sale

When: Friday through Feb. 24

Where: Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, 801 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

On display: More than 50 dealers with furniture, silver, crystal, porcelain, jewelry

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 24

Tickets: $6, good for all three days

Information:; (954) 563-6747.

Current prices

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.

- 1904 St. Louis World's Fair souvenir cigar case, aluminum, brass clasp, engraved, holds three cigars, $50.

- Lucite purse, oval, clear, chrysanthemum-cut sides, clear handle, Wilardy, 1940s, 9 by 9 inches, $200.

- Pressed-steel red toy car, promoting the 1939 Roi-Tan Cigar Chevrolet giveaway on Sophie Tucker's CBS radio show. "An auto a day is given away," 5 inches, $480.

- Sony transistor radio Model TR-63, yellow with red dial, leather case, 1957, 41/2 by 23/4 inches, $780.

- Kammer & Reinhardt No. 127 Boy Scout doll, bisque socket head, light brown painted hair, blue-gray glass sleep eyes, 17 inches, $2,150.