AT Inbox: Cherished heirlooms, Inuit art and eBay bidders


I have three heirlooms that I cherish, two from my father. The first is a French Indian pipe that he and a brother and sister uncovered plowing a field as teenagers. The plow hit the pipe causing a mark on the pipe.

The second is a cross that my father brought back from Germany. It has Jesus on the cross on the front. It opens to reveal the names of three saints, written on paper, Achatin, Bernardi, Achantin. Around the names is a gold-like wire with fine blue beads. With the cross closed, a screw can hold the two parts together. It can be worn around the neck. I was about 5 when my father gave it to me.

I showed a priest and he told me that a relic was under each of the saint’s names.

The third is a picture of “Lincoln and His Family.” A neighbor and I were at a  garage sale where the picture was. Thinking I could not afford it, I was returning to the car, when the lady holding the sale approached me. She asked if there wasn’t something I liked. I told her I like the Lincoln picture. She replied, come with me. She gave it to me “free,” saying it’s yours. It’s hanging in my bedroom. It does have some damage. But at the sale, people were moving it around without care, some of the damage happened there.

I love your paper. I read it front to back before putting it down.

A fan,

Martha Boles
Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Dear editor:

I found your issue of June 18, 2008, particularly interesting because of the material about the Inuits.

Not that I can tell anything about any antique piece, but because I was stationed in Nome during WWII (the big one)! I became fascinated with Eskimo art. I did not know enough to collect – although I did buy five elastic watchbands for myself, my father, my kid brother and two elder brothers in service. No relic remains.

However, my experience in Alaska caught my imagination. And years later, my wife and I, after we retired, moved here to Florida and bought some Inuit sculpture at an auction.

We know nothing about their provenance. I have included photos. I hope you can put me in touch with an expert so that I can follow up.

We enjoy your publication and faithfully scan it for Florida auctions.

With much appreciation.

Yours truly,

Leonard Kantrowitz
Miami, Fla.


I  was reading your article in ANTIQUE TRADER about the new eBay policy on bidder ID’s. I had just had this conversation with my brother in Florida last night.

We are both in our mid 50’s and both toy collectors. There are certain toys that we bid on through eBay  through out each year. We both believe that part of the “bidding fun” has been taken from us. It used to be enjoyable to watch your “adversaries” sweat or at least hope they were. The new ID change takes away the part of the auction you like the most except for the purchase.

We always wanted to complain to someone about this change since it was introduced. If you have ever tried to contact someone at eBay you know what a waste of time that is.

I believe it is very important to know who you are bidding against. Honest bidders keep the prices fair on eBay. Sure some bidders will bid too high to get their treasure and this is what keeps antiques valuable. But it is nice to know who your bidding opponents are.


D. R. Jones

Hello Robyn,

One of my most cherished family heirlooms is a simple little wooden tumbler-shaped cup.  It belonged to my great grandmother who, according to my dad and my grandmother, was a “healer,” an Ohio farmwife with a gift.

As a young girl I was fascinated by stories of family history and was constantly asking questions. At the age of 13 my grandmother gave me this tonic cup which had been my great grandmother’s. Her name was Anna Francis Hullinger and she “birthed the babies, took care of the sick and laid out the dead.”

My Grandmother wanted desperately to learn how to make the tonics and medicines that her mother did. Anna refused to teach any of her daughters how to do the things she was able to do.  One day when my Grandmother was around 9 years old, she tried to follow her mother as she went to the woods to gather her herbs. She thought she was being careful and “Ma” would never know but she found her and as Grandma put it, “beat me silly.”

The only medicine my grandmother learned how to make was the spring tonic her mother gathered herbs for that day. After it was made it was put into the wooden cup overnight and the family used it the following day. My own Dad remembered taking it every spring for years from both his grandmother and his mother.

I suspect the reason my great grandmother, Anna, wouldn’t teach her daughters was because she was afraid people would regard her daughters as they did her, with great respect but also, a lot of fear. The days of being called a witch were not that far removed from her time.

This little cup is the only physical heirloom left from this remarkable lady. I don’t have the recipe for the tonic, that passed away with my grandmother. But the dear little cup, I will be very proud to pass it on to one of my own grandchildren someday. Thanks for allowing me to share.

Ellen G. King