Discover Vintage America - APRIL 2016

Dictionary stand dates from the early 1900s

Q: This stand, which looks like it was made to hold a book, has been in my family for many years. Can you tell me what it is for and how much it is worth? It stands 33" tall.


A: You have a wonderful oak dictionary stand from around 1900. I was able to locate a

photograph showing a dictionary on the stand and as you can see dictionaries from that period were very large and heavy books. The two wood pieces that the dictionary rests on are independently adjustable so as to not break the spine of the book.

This type of stand could be found in schools, libraries and homes. A dictionary stand such as this sells for $400 - $450 retail, with the more ornate ones selling for several hundred dollars more.








Toledo Cooker is early version of Crockpot

Q: I don't know what I have. It's made of wood, has a hinged lid and a large metal stockpot inside. The bottom has some type of stone in it. I have enclosed a photo of the label on the front. It measures 15"x15"x15". Can you tell me what I have?


A: You have an early version of the modern day Crockpot or as it was called, a fireless cooker. In 1900, the Toledo Cooker Co. made the first electrically heated fireless cooker in the United States.

Before most homes had electricity, food would be cooked to nearly done in a metal pot and then placed in a hole in the ground to finish cooking in a slow manner. The hole would be lined with hay and hot stones were placed on top of the pot then the entire thing was covered with dirt and left to simmer for hours.

To this day some foods are still cooked this way, not out of necessity but simply because it is and

excellent way to slow cook certain meats. The fireless cooker introduced an efficient and time-saving way to get the slow cooked flavor. It was especially useful during the summer as the fireless cooking method would not heat-up the kitchen.

The Toledo Cooker Co. first made the "Ideal" fireless cooker in which the pot was placed in an asbestos lined box.

In 1916 they introduced the "Domestic Science" cooker and by 1918 the company brought to the market a fireless cooker that utilized heated burners in the bottom to slow cook foods.
You could also purchase a double cooker that utilized the same technology.

The Toledo Cooker Co. Ideal with one pot, which you have, sells for $75 - $125 and the double cooker sells for $150-$175.

As I write this month's column I am in Grapevine, TX conducting appraisals at the Metroplex Antique Glass and Collectibles Sale. If you would like for me to come to your event please contact Bruce at If the appearance is outside of the KC metro area and you do not advertise in the publication there is a small fee to cover travel expenses.

Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.

Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to for a one-on-one appraisal.