Turkeys weren’t part of this Thanksgiving

Thinking about Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday? If you want to copy the menu used by the Pilgrims, you can’t eat turkey.

Historic letters written by the Pilgrims describe Thanksgiving in 1691, mentioning the guests, the foods and the activities. The Wampanoag Indian guests at the celebration brought venison to eat. The English Pilgrims say they brought fowl, which probably meant ducks or geese that were migrating during the fall. There also was mention of cider.

Turkeys were not mentioned for the celebration, although they were eaten at other times. Also available and known to be part of the American Indians’ food were cod, eels, corn, beans, onions, turnips and spinach.

Later letters mention fish, lobster, clams, berries, pumpkins and squash. There was no sweetener for cranberries to make sauce, but boiled, baked or raw cranberries were eaten. In some countries today, pumpkin soup is made from a squash that is not the same as the pumpkin we decorate for Halloween. The word’s meaning must have changed, and we are not sure what plant was used.

The turkey was first promoted as the main part of a Thanksgiving dinner in about 1800 and didn’t become part of most traditional dinners until 1857. And other more modern dishes, like pumpkin pie (in a 1796 cookbook) and green-bean casserole (1955, created by Campbell’s), are now part of many Thanksgiving dinners.

Q: I have a deep-blue Biskra vase made by R. Lalique. It’s about 11 1/2 inches high. Someone wants to buy it. I’ve done research but am hoping to get some advice about the price someone would expect to pay for it. It’s been in storage for some time, so the inside grooves of the fern leaves need cleaning, but there are no chips.

A: Biskra vases were made by Lalique about 1932. They were made in several different colors, including blue, pale green, red, yellow amber and opalescent. The vases have sold at auction for several thousand dollars. A large blue vase like yours sold for more than $8,000 recently. Unless your buyer is ready to pay that much, you should contact an auction house to sell your vase. Ask what shipping, commission and other costs will be before consigning it.

Q: I have most of a set of Burleigh Ware Willow dishes. Are they of any value?

A: Burleigh Ware was made by Burgess & Leigh (Ltd.), a pottery in Burslem, Staffordshire, England. It operated as Burgess & Leigh beginning in 1877. The company was sold in 1999. It has been part of Denby Holdings since 2010 and is now called Burleigh. The “Willow” pattern originally was a Chinese pattern. It was copied by many manufacturers. Burgess & Leigh began making Willow pattern dishes in the early 1920s. The blue-and-white Willow pattern still is popular today. You might be able to sell the dishes to a matching service, but then you have to pack them, pay charges and ship them. You can try to sell them locally to an antiques dealer or donate them to a charity and take the tax deduction. Partial sets of dishes are not selling well online or in shops.

Q: My 12-inch mercury glass cake pedestal is developing “mold” spots. It’s stored in a china cabinet. The mold is on the top and bottom sides only. How should I clean it and keep it from getting spots?

A: Mercury glass, or silvered glass, doesn’t have mercury or silver in it. It was first made in the 1850s by blowing the glass into a mold. Antique mercury glass has double walls and was coated between the walls with a silver nitrate solution before sealing the hole on the bottom with a plug. Dirt and air get inside between the walls if the plug has deteriorated. A light dusting usually is enough to keep the outside of the glass clean. If more is needed, it can be cleaned by using a Q-tip or soft toothbrush and a good glass cleaner. If your cake pedestal was washed, moisture may have gotten in between the walls. If mold is inside the walls of your glass cake pedestal, it’s probably impossible to restore.

Q: I’ve been trying to research the value of Jim Beam car decanters. Do you have any idea where I might obtain the information?

A: Jacob Beam began selling Old Jake Beam whiskey in 1795. The company was renamed Jim Beam in 1933. Beam began selling Christmas season whiskey in glass cocktail shaker decanters in 1953. The decanters were so popular that Beam began selling liquor in ceramic decanters made by Regal China in 1955. Hundreds of special shapes were made. Decanters shaped like cars were made as part of several Beam series from 1972 to 1992. Jim Beam stopped making decanters for the commercial trade in 1992. The company is now owned by Suntory, a Japanese company. The Beam decanters lost favor by 1992, and prices plummeted. The Volkswagen decanter that was $65-$70 in 2000 sells for as low as $20. The Chevrolet Bel Air went from $75 to $20-$35.

Tip: Old papers and documents kept in a box can be kept from yellowing by including an anti-tarnish strip in the box.

CURRENT PRICES

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.

— Lamp, chandelier, 8-light, tole, yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers, green leaves, 22 x 24 inches, 65.

— Flag, Japanese, railroad lines, cities from Nanking to Shanghai, 1937, 28 x 20 inches, $185.

— Ladle, chrysanthemum pattern, repousse, silver, Steiff Kirk, 1900, 15 inches, $195.

— Window, leaded glass, yellow scrolls, half-moon shape, wood frame, 27 x 60 inches, $290.

— Leather, crop, riding, Hermes, 29 inches, $635.

— Pipe, silver, bamboo, dragons, clouds, tapered stem, small bowl, Japan, 10 1/4 inches, $635.

— Luneville, jardiniere, bird, flowers, 15 x 20 1/2 inches, $800.

— Coffee table, Paul Evans, glass top, round, base, 3D triangles, welded, bronze, steel, 16 x 42 inches, $1,375.

— Lantern, whale oil, cleat pattern globe, tin base, 1860, 12 1/2 inches, $3,120.

— Coin-operated game, billardette, nickel plated escutcheons, ball, cue, signed, 5 cents, 36 x 27 inches, $4,095.

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