Antiques & Collecting: Rare phonolamps sought by phonograph collectors

Phonographs were invented in 1877. The early ones had one needle for recording and another needle for playing. The music was recorded on tinfoil-coated cylinders using a needle to make tiny lines that, when played with the other needle, made sounds.

Thomas Edison, the inventor, founded his own company to make phonographs. He also invented movies, the light bulb and many other things, but failed to create a cement that could be used to make a case for the phonograph. And he never succeeded in making motion pictures with sound or creating a new way to mine iron ore.

His phonograph company was successful for a while, and he even designed a combination phonograph-lamp in about 1920. The lamp was made to be kept on a table in the living room so the whole family could listen.

Many versions were made in the popular styles of the day. A design called a phonolamp was made about 1920. It had an electric motor, metal case and an embroidered lampshade.

These combination lamps soon went out of style but are liked by phonograph collectors.

A rare, working Phonolamp recently was sold in a German auction for $1,967.

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Q: I have a print by Maude Goodman, and I’m wondering about its age and value.

A: Maude Goodman (1860-1938) was born in Manchester, England, and moved to London. She did sentimental paintings of women and children in Victorian settings. Her work was relatively unknown until the 1880s. Several of her paintings were exhibited in the Royal Academy of Arts in London in the late 1800s. Artwork has to be seen by an expert to determine the value. An original lithograph of one of her works sold at auction for $177, but many online sites sell reproductions of original works of art for $10 or less.

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Q: Am I the only one collecting hubcaps? I can find and buy them, but I have little history about when they were first used and how styles differ?

A: There are many collectors of hubcaps, wheel covers and other car parts. Hubcaps literally are caps for the hub of a wheel. The early cars had wheels with wooden spokes connecting the outer steel rim to the center hub. The hub was filled with grease, and the hub cap was used to keep the grease in place. Steel wire spokes replaced the wooden ones in the 1920s, and they too needed a hubcap. In 1934, Cadillac added a stainless-steel disc that covered most of the spokes and was held by a hubcap. Cadillac changed to a wheel like the one used today in 1938, and enlarged the hubcaps into wheel covers. But the name “hubcap” was still used. In 1950, the chromed Cadillac hubcaps were so popular they were being stolen off the cars. Aluminum hubcaps were next. They were light weight and gave the car less weight and added speed. The 1970s was the beginning of plastic hubcaps that looked like aluminum caps. By the 1980s, plastic replaced almost all of the steel hubcaps. Collectors can search online, at flea markets or at car accessories auctions for metal or plastic hubcaps with different car logos.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.