Early whistles made from bird bones, wood, more
Terry & Kim Kovel
"I bought a wooden whistle, but it wouldn't whistle" is part of an old children's song that goes on to joke about buying a metal whistle.
But a modern metal whistle used by a policeman looks very different from the wooden whistle made centuries ago.
And today, if a whistle is wood, it usually is carved into an interesting shape or painted to hide the wood surface.
Early whistles were made from hollow reeds or bird bones. By the 17th century, ceramic whistles were available, often in the shape of an owl or other bird. The center of the whistle held water. Blowing into a hole on its back made the water move and make a sound.
There also were wind whistles handmade or molded from clay. Many have been made since the 17th century, but few of the early clay bird whistles remain.
Today, you can find a lot of whistles made of pot metal, celluloid or plastic. An unmarked earthenware bird whistle with colorful paint decoration was sold at a Hess Auction Group auction that featured Pennsylvania wares. The 4-inch-long bird sold for $212.
Q: When I bought my hair salon in 1972, it had a Coca-Cola machine. It was made by the Vendo Co. of Kansas City. Cokes cost 15 cents. But it isn't the typical red-and-white Coca-Cola machine — the front looks like wood and has eight panels with black trim. The machine still works, and I have it in my home. Could you tell me its value?
A: The Vendo Co. was started in the late 1930s in Kansas City, Missouri. The Vendo Model 56 vending machine was designed This multicolor earthenware bird — a whistle that would actually whistle — sold for $212.
about 1956 and made until the mid-1960s. The machine held 56 bottles, sizes 8 ounces to 12 ounces, in up to seven varieties.
It was offered in red and white, red and white with woodgrain, and with woodgrain "decorator doors" that made it look like a cabinet rather than a brightly colored soda machine. Styles
included Danish, Provincial, Colonial, Traditional and Mediterranean, like yours.
Vintage Vendo soda vending machines in old and worn but working condition that advertise brands such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi sell from about $250 to about $500. Coca-Cola versions are worth the most. Restored examples sell into the thousands. Without product advertising, they are worth less, about $100 to $300.
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.
• Marble lamp base: neoclassical, gilt bronze, putti, acanthus base, 1800s, 19 by 34 by 9½ inches, $220
• Ivory card case: pierced, curved, people in garden, different scenes on reverse, 4 by 2 inches, $630
• Garden bench: ferns, cast and black-painted iron, 1880, 33 by 55 inches, $1,180
• Coca-Cola radio: figural, hobble skirt Coke bottle, embossed, electric, 1933, 24 by 8 inches, $3,660