Happy #whatsitwednesday!

Be the first to guess what the pictured item is by leaving a comment below. If you have your own whatsit, our editors can include it in a future post. Please send an email to editor@kovels.com and attach a clear picture, the size and any markings. Hopefully, we will be able to identify it for our readers!

The pictured item seems to be approx. 8 inches high.

(Photo: Ebay/atfabltd23)

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Kovels Item

Patricia Cigarette Lighter

Q: Can you give us any information about this cigarette lighter? It’s marked “Patricia, Made in Occupied Japan” on the bottom. It’s silver-colored metal over glass.


A: The McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 mandated that all goods exported into the United States be marked with the country of origin. Japan was occupied by the Allied Forces from 1945, the end of World War II, until April 25, 1952. Items made for export to the U.S. during that period were marked “Made in Occupied Japan.” There have been collectors of cigarette table lighters since they were first made in 1939. Value of your table lighter, about $50.

cigarette lighter with grapes and grape leaves made in occupied japan

Deadly Discovery Linked to Civil War

Renovating old buildings can be a dangerous occupation in Charleston, South Carolina. Don’t think so? Just ask a recent electrical crew that was beginning a job in an empty building in the city that was the site of the first battle in the Civil War. The workers discovered a shell in the corner of the basement. After carrying it outside, they realized it was a Civil War-era artillery shell and they quickly authorities.

It’s not uncommon in this southern city to find remnants from the war that ended 155 years ago. Just last year, two Civil War cannonballs were uncovered on a South Carolina beach in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

In this case, the shell found in the basement was left by a family who had owned the property, the current owner, Thomas George, said. It’s been sitting in the cellar since he began renovating the building about a year ago. The shell is likely an 8-inch round for a Parrott rifle from the Civil War. An explosive of this type could have a blast radius of over 100 feet. The shell was handed over to the U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit for disposal. All unearthed shells belong to the military.


antique civil war era artillery shell


Be Careful with Potentially Explosive Antiques

Be careful with antiques that hold gunpowder, like guns, muskets, cannonballs, hand grenades and even bullets. Attic heat can make ammunition dangerous to move. Call your local fire department if you discover old weapons. A Civil War collector who restored old cannonballs was disarming a 9-inch cannonball that killed him when it exploded. The sparks from a drill or grinder may have set it off. The remaining explosives in his collection were detonated by experts.


Ready, Set … Let’s Get Out There and Enjoy Spring’s Best Flea Markets!

The days are becoming warmer and spring fever is peaking for flea market fans cooped up during the winter months. Spring is the best time to find antiques and collectibles — including vintage furniture, clothing and jewelry — that dealers discovered during the winter. As you charge out to find your treasures, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes, a bright hat or jacket so friends can find you in the crowd, and bring an umbrella just in case spring showers make an appearance. Each of the markets we mention are known for their variety and popularity among both vendors and shoppers across the U.S. Here is our listing of a dozen flea markets worth visiting.

Don’t forget to negotiate — and share with us any of your favorites we may have overlooked!


1.  Original Round Top Antiques Fair – Spring Antique Week

March 30-April 4, 2020

4036 Texas Hwy., Round Top, Texas


This is “the show that started it all!” Everything is bigger in Texas and its premier flea market is no exception. Spring and Fall Antiques Fairs are held during the week that ends on the first Saturdays of April and October each year. This year it runs from March 30 through April 4. The marketplace with 100 percent antique and vintage merchandise, attracting thousands of dealers and tens of thousands of buyers from around the world. There are four locations in Round Top — the Big Red Barn, Big Red Barn Tent, Continental Tent and Carmine Dance Hall. Find American and European antiques, vintage decorator items and collectibles, all kinds of art, glass, signs, toys, clothes, jewelry, architectural and repurposed items, and much more. Admission is $10, $20 for a VIP early shopping pass. Parking is free. There also are more than 50 other shows that run at the same time in neighboring communities (like Warrenton, Carmine and Shelby) within about 15 miles of Round Top, mostly along Highway 237. For information on those, contact the Round Top Chamber of Commerce or the City of Warrenton.


2.  Kane County Flea Market

April 4 & 5, May 2 & 3, June 6 & 7, 2020

525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, Illinois


A great place to shop in Chicagoland, Kane County Flea Market is held on the first Sunday of each month and the Saturday before from March to December. It is located about an hour west of Chicago and features more than 600 dealers inside, outside and under sheds, with antiques, refurbished furniture, vinyl records and sports collectibles. Hours are Saturday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5, children under 12 are free. Parking is free.


3. Alameda Point Antiques Faire

March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7, 2020

2900 Navy Way (at Main St.), Alameda, California


California’s largest antique show, the show is called the “Brimfield of the West.” This is the place to shop for vintage, retro and antique home decorations, clothing, furniture, jewelry, art, pottery, books and collectibles. All items are 20 years old or older. Admission is $15, 6 a.m.-9 a.m.; $5, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., free for ages15 and younger with an adult.  Parking is free and there is a shuttle.


4.  Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market

March 21 & 22, April 18 &19, May 15, 16 & 17 Extravaganza, and June 20 & 21, 2020

Clark County Fairgrounds, Springfield, Ohio


The Springfield Antiques Show and Flea Market has been called “One of America’s Best” by CNN and some top publications. Held nine times a year at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio, it is known for a vast selection of antique and vintage items, as well as mid-century modern pieces. In addition to the regular shows, there are Extravaganza weekends in May and September that feature more than 2,000 vendors, 20,000 customers and lots and lots of food. They pride themselves on a unique mix, saying to “expect the unexpected” vintage, antique, re- & up-cycled, artisanal goods and locally sourced producers. Admission: $3, children under 16 free. (Sign up for email list for monthly specials); Extravaganzas admission: early bird 7 a.m.-noon on Friday, $15. That includes re-admission rest of weekend. General admission is $10, noon-6 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.


5.  Nashville Flea Market

March 27, 28 & 20, April 24, 25 & 26, May 22, 23 & 24, June 26, 27 & 28, 2020.

Nashville Expo Center, Tennessee State Fairgrounds, Nashville, Tennessee. For GPS, use 500 Wedgewood Ave., Nashville, Tennessee


The Nashville Flea Market is considered by many to be one of the top 10 flea markets in the country. It’s been operating for almost 60 years. With an average of 2,000 booths, dealers and vendors from 30 states offer items every month. It advertises a huge and unique selection of antique furniture, dishware, clothing, rugs, jewelry, leather goods, more, as well as specialty foods. One thing that sets the Nashville Flea Market apart from other flea markets is its monthly themes. Past themes have included things like retro revival, romance junkies, down memory lane, vintage galore, Americana cool and old-school rules. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free.


6.  Rose Bowl Flea Market

Yep, THE Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, California

March 8, April 12, May 10, June 14, 2020 (Second Sunday of every month)


This is considered one of the best flea markets on the West Coast. It attracts as many as 2,500 vendors and 20,000 shoppers. Find clothes, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses, ceramics, glass, furniture, pictures, crafts, keepsakes, art, fabric, bikes, costumes, music — every imaginable type of merchandise. It’s open rain or shine. Admission: Special preview VIP admission from 5 a.m.-7 a.m., $20; 7 a.m.-8 a.m., $15; regular admission, 9 a.m., $9. Children under 12 are free with an adult. No credit cards. There’s no admission after 3 p.m. Free parking, lots of food from cheeseburgers to sushi, and even celebrity sightings.


7.  Long Beach Antique Flea Market

March 15, April 19, May 17, June 21, 2020 (Third Sunday of every month)

Long Beach Veterans Stadium, 4901 E. Conant St., Long Beach, California


The Long Beach Antique Market calls itself “The Flea Market with Style.” More than 800 sellers feature a huge selection of antiques, collectibles and everything chic, cheap, unique and vintage, all at bargain prices. Find collectibles, home decor, jewelry, furniture, vintage clothing and more. The sale is spread out over 20 acres at the Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. Admission, 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., $6; early admission, from 5:30 a.m.-6:30 a.m., $12; children under 12 are free. There’s food and free parking, too.


8.  Renninger’s Kutztown Antique and Collector’s Extravaganza

April 24 & 25, June 26 & 27, 2020

740 Noble St., Kutztown, Pennsylvania

Renninger’s Kutztown hosts a flea market extravaganza three times a year, April, June and September. The extravaganza is set up behind Renninger’s Antique & Farmer’s Market, with exhibitors outside, under tents and in two 350-foot long pavilions. The Indoor Antique Market and the Indoor Farmer’s Market are also open during the Extravaganza. Admission is Early Buyer $10 on Friday, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., and $6 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $6. On Saturday, $5, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.


9.  Custer’s 45th Annual Spring Antique & Collectors Sale

April 24, 25 & 26, 2020

Spokane Fair Expo Center, 404 N. Havana St. Spokane, Washington


This event is the largest indoor antique and collectors’ sale of its kind in the Inland Northwest with 200 dealers participating from all over the west coast. Shop among thousands of vintage treasures rare to retro, including kitchenware, industrial, estate and costume jewelry, furniture, primitives, rustic garden, elegant glass, shabby chic, prints and more. Find antiques in all price ranges for the discriminating collector to the treasure hunter. Friday, 4 p.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday,10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is $6, with children 12 and under free. Admission is good for whole weekend. Free parking.


10. D.C. Big Flea & Antiques Market

March 7 & 8, July 11 & 12, 2020

Dulles Expo Center, 4320 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, Virginia


The D.C. Flea is the mid-Atlantic’s largest indoor antiques and collectibles flea market. Shop for anything from fine antiques to vintage clothing and accessories at more than 700 booths in two halls. Dealers showcase a wide variety of merchandise including porcelain, glass, silver, jewelry, collectibles from all eras, art and lots of mid-century modern. Hours are Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $10.


11. Rocky Mountain Antique Festival

April 24, 25 & 26, 2020

Douglas County Fairgrounds, 500 Fairgrounds Dr., Castle Rock, Colorado


Enjoy quality authentic antique and vintage shopping featuring dealers from 15 states. There will be dealers selling jewelry, postcards, primitives, 1950s dinettes, furniture, western, art pottery, art glass, comic books, Native American, vintage clothing, toys, lighting, cameras and much more. Hours are Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for children ages 9-12; ages 8 and under are free. (Hint:  purchase tickets online for a discount.) Free parking. Look for other Rocky Mountain Antique Festivals in Loveland, Colorado, March 21 & 22, and July 11 & 12.


12. Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show

May 12-17, 2020

Brimfield Town Hall, 23 Main St., Brimfield, Massachusetts. If you use a GPS, use 35 Palmer

Road, Brimfield, Massachusetts, 01010


Make your way to central Massachusetts to visit the market that attracts more than 50,000 people three times a year. The six-day Brimfield Flea Market hosts Tuesday-through-Sunday shows each year in May (see above), July 14-19 and Sept. 8-13, 2020. More than 20 fields of dealers make up the market, with staggered openings and closings. Some fields have an admission fee of about $5 but most are free. This market stretches along a mile on both sides of Route 20, is an exciting tradition that attracts visitors from many states and countries.

Kovels.com has more information and tips on navigating flea markets, negotiating smart deals and identifying original objects. Kovels’ booklet, Flea Market Strategies: How to Shop, Buy, and Bargain the 21st-Century Way, has tips on what to wear, what to bring along and how to negotiate. Also included, tips on spotting fakes, advice on how to pay for purchases, and a list of the latest smartphone apps to help buyers shop, share and ship. Available at KovelsOnlineStore.com.



Thrift Store Shopping Made Chic

With spring comes both the cleaning bug and the urge to redecorate. If you are on a budget, shopping at thrift stores is both a good idea and kind of fun! In addition to finding bargains (if you look beyond the junk), these visits are like a step back in time, usually to about the 1970s and 1980s. 
Here are some suggestions to satisfy your spring fever: 
Ceramic and glass platters. When people clear house, they often discover an excess of kitchen and household accessories. We recently decided to spruce up our kitchen for each season and holiday by getting a plate stand and finding a nice platter (one with a witch for October, and a snowman for December) to display in the corner of the countertop. All cost under $8 each.

Old patchwork quilts. Are your pets digging and scratching at your good furniture? Find a colorful old quilt (usually $10-$15, depending on the size), wash it and tuck it over the cushions and back of the couch or loveseat. Not only does it protect the furniture but brightens a room instantly!

Vases. Bring spring inside. Glass vases are available in all colors, shapes and sizes and usually cost less than $2. Splurge and create a mantel display of fresh flowers! (If you are lucky, you may come across a quality vase!)

Tablecloths. Think out-of-the-box and buy colorful tablecloths for your outdoor table. They cost $5-$10 and are way more classy than flimsy plastic ones. In fact, ditch paper plates and buy sets of dishes for outdoor use. Whole sets are available for about $20 for any size outdoor function.

Does your living room seem gloomy but you are not willing to splurge on expensive new lamps? Check out thrift store lamps. I’ve found heavy brass lamps that just need a good cleaning and new shade for $25. Someday, I hope to find a  Stiffel!

thrift store pottery platter


It’s #whatsitwednesday!

Be the first to guess what the pictured item is by leaving a comment below. If you have your own whatsit, our editors can include it in a future post. Please send an email to editor@kovels.com and attach a clear picture, the size and any markings. Hopefully, we will be able to identify it for our readers!

The pictured item is 6 inches high.

Note: For those of you who signed up to get notified of each response (by checking the “Notify me of follow-up comments” box in the “Add Comments” section) and find it’s generating too much email, you can unsubscribe to the “Whatsitwednesday” comments by clicking the “unsubscribe” link in the “Whatsitwednesday” email you receive.

Kovels Item

(Photo: Richard D. Hatch & Associates)

It Often Pays to Clean a Painting

“Portrait of a Woman” went from being considered a masterpiece by Dutch painter Rembrandt (1606-1669), to being declared as a “knock-off” painted by an unknown assistant, to now being worth potentially 10s of millions of dollars. A cleaning and new examination with modern methods led to experts re-evaluating its origin BACK to the paintbrush of Rembrandt himself.

In the 1970s, the Rembrandt Research Project, a Dutch organization that investigates attribution claims, decided the portrait that had been donated in 1961 to the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania as likely the work an assistant or student of Rembrandt. Earlier X-ray analyses had some historians questioning the authenticity of the brushwork. The apparent lack of clarity in the subject’s clothing also fueled doubts, as did concerns about the artist’s signature, which is painted differently from those on many of his other works.

Two years ago, the painting was sent to New York University for conservation and cleaning. Removing decades of grime and layers of varnish from previous “restorations” cleared away the doubts about the brush strokes and subtle hues. And it turns out the signature used on this portrait is consistent with other works from that year, 1632, when the painter, whose full name was Rembrandt van Rijn, briefly wrote his name as “RHLvan Rijn.”

“Portrait of a Young Woman” is expected to go back on display in Allentown on June 7. The museum is planning an accompanying exhibition that will explore the processes of conservation and attribution.


rembrandt portrait of a young woman art painting

Photo: Shan Kuang / Allentown Art Museum

G. Washington Pitcher

Q: I inherited a black and white pitcher with Freemason details, George Washington, and the quote “To heavens High Architect all praise All gratitude be given Who design’d the human soul to raise By secrets sprung from heaven.” The number “#0199” is marked on the bottom. One eBay site lists the value at $2,400. Can you give me an estimate or instructions on how I can find out what it is worth?


A: Creamware pitchers with transfer designs of Masonic symbols and themes were made for the American market by several Staffordshire and Liverpool potteries in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Some featured pictures of prominent men who were Masons or illustrated historic events. George Washington was a member of a Masonic Lodge in Virginia. The poem quoted first appeared in a book about Masons in 1769. The mark on the bottom of your pitcher indicates it’s new, not one of the early Staffordshire or Liverpool pitchers. It may have been made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Washington’s inauguration in 1989. Some of the prices you see online are asking prices that aren’t even close to what the item eventually sells for. An old Liverpool transfer pitcher could sell for over $1,000, but a new one is only worth less than $50.

george washington pottery pitcher

Replace Missing Stones in Costume Jewelry

You can glue missing stones back into costume jewelry. Find the glue used to glue watch crystals into the case. The glue will not yellow. Remove all traces of old glue. Put some in the setting, then lower the stone into place and be sure it is level.