Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

July 3, 2013

Question and answer time

By Linda Hamer Kennett
Daily News

---- — The best part of writing this column for the past 15 years has been the emails, phone calls and one-on-one conversations I have with my readers.

You arouse my curiosity, challenge my memory and send me scurrying to the computer for research on a regular basis. It was my greatest fear in starting this column that I would run out of subject matter, but all of you have seen to it that “what in the world do I write about this week?” has never crossed my mind.

Once a year I like to do a little “catching up” for those of you who’s questions I did not get covered in a column. So here are the answers to some of your unanswered questions.

Q: What is the proper way to clean old wicker? A: After dusting with a soft cloth, clean any areas with concentrated dust and dirt with a soft tooth brush. For areas with a high concentration of dust use a small hand vacuum. When the dust is removed, wash the wicker with arm soap and water using an oil based soap (I like Murphy’s Oil soap) using a “sponging” action rather than scrubbing. Then wash again with clear water until all soap residue is gone. It is important to let the piece dry thoroughly as sitting in a wet wicker chair can cause warping. The best place to dry old wicker is outside on a warm day with a slight breeze. Maintain your antique wicker by dusting it on a regular basis and don’t wash it more that once a year.

Q: How can I tell if my family silverware is sterling or silver plate? A: The most common maker of silverware is “1847 Roger Brothers.” If you find this mark on your “silver” it is always plate, as Roger Brothers never produced sterling. If your items are sterling they will most always be marked with the word “sterling” or a number indicating the purity of the silver. Look for the number 925 or the letters S or SS. Another simple way to tell is a simple magnet test. If your piece of tableware sticks, it is not sterling. If still in doubt you can send your silver to a refiner to be tested. These facilities use x-ray technology to test metal content and are 100 percent accurate.

Q: Is there a way to tell old cast iron toys and banks from reproductions? A: There are three things to watch for to determine if your iron toys and banks are old. The surface on newer banks will often be rough from the sand used in their production. Old banks were produced with very find sand and their finish will be quite smooth to the touch. The seams on old banks and toys will be so tight that they will often be almost invisible. Newer pieces do not fit together well and will often have an actual gap between the pieces. The screw holding together an old bank will be flat. While original screws may have been replaced with a Phillips head screw, the presence of one should be reason to beware.

Q: How do I clean the inside of an old bottle? A: For bottles that are cloudy use a mixture of half white vinegar half water and soak overnight. But do NOT use this method on painted or gold trimmed bottles as the acid in the vinegar will eat the paint. If your bottles have a large amount of debris pour 1-2 inches of uncooked rice into the bottle and fill the remaining space half way with warm water and two drops of dish soap. Cover and shake vigorously for several minutes. Another good way to scrub the inside of old bottles is with an aquarium brush and hot soapy water.

As I begin my 15th year of ‘What’s in the Attic?” I would like to thank my readers across the Midwest for their comments and questions. Keep ‘em coming!

Until next time,


Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or