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Published October 28, 2011, 12:00 AM

Kovels Antiques: Clocks common antique claimed to be ‘haunted’

We have heard many stories about “haunted antiques” through the years, and we often ask readers to send us their stories. Clocks seem to be the most likely to be haunted.

By: By Terry Kovel, INFORUM

We have heard many stories about “haunted antiques” through the years, and we often ask readers to send us their stories. Clocks seem to be the most likely to be haunted.

One reader’s mother bought a modern sunburst wall clock in 1952. It stayed on the kitchen wall. In 1982, her father died, and in 1992, her mother began dating. Whenever the boyfriend came over, the clock would make a “grunting” noise.

According to the reader “Mother married and her new husband asked that the clock be thrown out, but I put it in the attic. In 2006, they divorced and I brought the clock into the kitchen. It is quiet now. Mother said she should have listened to the clock.”

Several families reported having wind-up clocks that started ticking or chiming when family members got together weeks after a funeral. But the strangest story we heard was about an antique glass necklace our reader inherited from her husband’s family. She told us that whenever she wore the necklace, she had an accident involving water – a glass tipped over, a vase broke, a drink was spilled on her, she even fell in a pool. Then one day, her mother-in-law commented that it was nice to see her wearing her great-aunt’s necklace. Did she know that her aunt was a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic?

Haunted antiques seem to be more playful than malicious. No one has told us of a dangerous example. Many have suggested that returning the antique to a better condition or a more comfortable place in the house seems to solve the problem. Do you have a “haunted antique”? Tell us about it at:

Q: I bought an old wooden rocking horse for $50 at a garage sale. It’s 27 inches tall and the rockers are 32½ inches long. The horse stands on a platform that has four metal wheels and two wooden rockers. It has a leather saddle and a real hair tail. I’m wondering how I should clean it. Should I use furniture polish?

A: Rocking horses with wheels were popular toys at the turn of the century. When a child was young, the toy could be used as a rocking horse. When the child was a little older, the rockers were taken off the horse and the child could “ride” the horse on its wheels. You can clean your rocking horse with a damp sponge or cloth with a solution of a mild soap and water. Don’t let the wood get too wet and don’t use furniture polish.

Q: When I was a kid in the 1950s, my dad used to smoke Kool cigarettes. I remember he got plastic penguin salt and pepper shakers whenever he bought a few packs. We must have had a hundred of those black and white penguins displayed on shelves in the china cabinet. I don’t think those plastic shakers are worth much, but they sure do bring back memories. Do you think any are still around today? Ours were thrown out.

A: Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. began making a menthol cigarette called Penguin in 1931. The brand name was changed to Kool in 1933, but penguins remained the symbol for the cigarette brand and were pictured in ads and on advertising items. Several different versions of the penguins were used. Early versions were more realistic than the later cartoon-like penguins. At first the penguin didn’t have a name, then he became “Kenny Kool,” and in 1947, he was named “Willie.” Penguin salt and pepper shakers named Willie and Millie were first offered as premiums in the late 1940s. You could get a pair by mailing in two empty Kool cigarette packs and 25 cents. The plastic shakers were made by F & F Mold and Die Works (Fiedler & Fiedler Mold and Die Works Co.) of Dayton, Ohio, until the 1960s. Plenty are still around. Value of a pair of Kool penguin salt and pepper shakers without a box: $10 to $15.

Q: Where can I find glass tops for a stainless-steel percolator coffee pot? I’m desperate to find a replacement top for my coffee pot.

A: You may find replacement glass tops at your local hardware store. You can also order them from Coffee Maker Outlet (800-251-8824), Classic Kitchens and More (717-840-9537), and other sources that you can find online. The glass “knobs” come in different sizes, so be sure to specify the size you need.


Put ceramic saucers or glass or plastic plant holders under vases of flowers or potted plants. There are also inexpensive throwaway plastic dishes that have a rim and are exactly the right size and shape for a plant.

For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s website,

Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovel, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.