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Friday, April 24, 2015

How do I find old cookbooks on CLEVNET?

“Is there a way to search for books by publication date? I want to look at old cookbooks.”

The CLEVNET catalog offers a lot of different ways to narrow down your search. Once you’ve typed something in the search bar at the top, you can narrow your search by library, audience (adult, children, or teen), language, content (nonfiction, fiction, or undetermined), and more, including published date.

Different searches bring up different results. When searching for “cookbooks” as a subject and narrowing our search to show only items available at Newton Falls, the earliest publication date was 1972: The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas. However, searching “cookbook” as a keyword instead of a subject brought up Mary Emma Showalter’s Mennonite Community Cookbook, published twenty-two years earlier. The keyword “recipe” showed us an even older book: Marcelle Morphy’s Recipes of All Nations, published in 1935.

If you’re looking for old-fashioned recipes, they may not necessarily be in the oldest cookbooks. The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker is a book of authentic frontier recipes published in 1979. Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes, published in 2000, deals with World War II cooking and the recipes people developed to get around rationing. We even have The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook by Mary Donovan, published in 1975.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Can you help me find out how much my antique brass cash register is worth?

Looking in Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2015, we found a list of twenty-six antique cash registers, prices ranging from $69 to $6600. There were only a few listings for specifically brass cash registers, and those were valued between $480 and $1020. We went next to Price It!, our library database for valuing antiques, to see if we could find more information. Price It! pulls information from online sales, auction houses, and online auctions (such as eBay) to give users a price estimate. We found a few complete cash registers in the $345 to $1300 range, but mainly people were selling bits and pieces of their registers.

Finally, we found a few brass cash register collector websites. Dick and Joan’s Antiques provides an extensive chart of serial numbers and manufacture dates, allowing people to estimate the age of their registers. Brass National Cash Registers has pictures of different patterns and features the registers can have, with notes as to their rarity. (The fleur-de-lis pattern, for example, is fairly common, while the scrollwork that spells out “National Cash Register” is rare.) The site also provides tips on unjamming your machine. 

For more information, Brass National Cash Registers recommends the two out-of-print volumes of The Incorruptible Cashier. The first volume is available as a reference text in Cleveland Public Library’s business department. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

How do I look up a patent?

“I have an ashtray shaped like a frog and I want to know when it was patented. It has ‘U.S. Patent 364523’ stamped on the bottom.”

provides an option to search by patent number, but when we looked up 364523, it brought up an 1867 patent for “producing justified lines of type.” Clearly, that wasn’t what our patron had, so we took a different tack.

The site also gives an option to search for patents by class. Classes include everything from apparel to coin handling to bee culture. We selected the one that seemed most applicable – “tobacco and smokers’ supplies” – and then looked under the subheading “ash receiver, snuffer, or support therefor.” There were several different options to choose from there as well. We followed a trail of subheadings from “simulative” to “animate” to “aquatic” to find of a list of all the patented ashtrays bearing the likenesses of aquatic animals, thirty-five in all. Of those thirty-five, three were in the shape of frogs, and one was the one our patron was looking for. Invented by David Frishman, this particular frog-shaped ashtray was patented on November 16, 1920.

Why didn’t it come up when we searched by the patent number? As it turned out, 364523 wasn’t the patent number at all but the serial number, and the stamp on the bottom of the frog was misleading.

For information on filing your own patent, Patent It Yourself by David Pressman is available for borrowing at the Newton Falls Public Library.