Pioneer Hand Mirror

The frugal pioneer of the 18th century reused any valuable broken items. This is a hand mirror made from a piece of broken mirror and a piece of wood probably left over from a building project. It sold for $1,700.

Recycling and reusing is nothing new. Our ancestors had glass, metal and ceramic pieces that were imported, expensive and scarce. So when something broke, it was repaired or saved to be reused. A primitive hand mirror with recycled glass was sold at a Skinner auction in 2016. It was one of many wooden items in a large collection, and prices were high for the one-of-a-kind "make-dos." The mirror, one of nine early mirrors in the auction, had a narrow 12-inch piece of wood for a frame and handle. An irregular piece of a broken mirror less than 3 inches wide was set into the wood. It probably was used by the owner to see his or her face at a time when mirrors were not found in most houses. The end of the handle has a notch, which probably was used to wedge the mirror on a chair back or counter in an upright position. The 18th-century mirror, made in Massachusetts, sold for $1,700.


Q: My mother used to have a crown-shaped bottle of Prince Matchabelli perfume on her dresser. I have an empty bottle. Is it worth anything?

A: Prince Georges Matchabelli immigrated to the United States from Russia in 1921 with his wife Norina. She was an actress who used the stage name Maria Carmi. They opened an antiques store in New York City and he also made perfume for friends. He started the Prince Matchabelli Perfume Co. in 1926. Norina designed the crown-shape bottle. The first bottles were porcelain, later glass, made in Germany. Georges died in 1935 and the company was sold several times. It became part of Parfums de Coeur in 1993. They kept the crown as the bottle stopper. The bottle price depends on size, condition including label, and if there is perfume in it. It could be worth $50 to $550.



Bottle, poison, arsenic, Columbia pharmacy H.G. Duerfeldt, amber glass, stopper, 1920s, 18 x 9 inches, $75.

Purse, nurses bag, textured leather, solid metallic frame, brass, side slide latches, top handle and clasp, 1920s, 7 x 7 inches, $140.

Birdbath, sculpted clamshell, beige concrete bowl, scalloped rim and scrolled edge, shell ribbed center, 1800s, 4 x 14 inches, $525.


TIP: To clean a very dirty old iron pan, spray it with oven cleaner, put it in a plastic bag for a day or two, then scrub it with a brass brush and rinse. Wear rubber gloves.

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