It’s important to know what, when, where, and why about your collectibles. Each day, the nightly news or the daily newspaper is filled with floods, wildfires, Covid-19, right, left, school shootings and many other terrible events. The holiday season is a perfect time to focus on the positive – our collections.

We have often written about types of collectors, be it investors, historians, compulsives, or those that just amass things. What you might want to consider is to seek information on exactly what your collectible is and when it was made, where it was made, and finally, why it was made. Was there a need at the time?

These are all simplistic questions, but the answers will give you a better appreciation for your chosen collection.

This month and January are a perfect period to get one’s mind off of the negative happenings. Many years ago I was told to not worry about something you can’t control because you’ll probably forget about it tomorrow. Knowledge is something you can control and one bit of facts often leads to more, as we’ll explain.

While relaxing one day I glanced at a tumbler on our shelf of miscellaneous collectibles. I knew it was old, but how old? This is where the “W’s” came in handy.

The 6-inch tumbler was made by the Greentown Indiana Glass Works. It was later referred to as chocolate glass because of the color or caramel slag or simply Greentown glass.

I wondered why it was called “slag.” I found out slag is the waste from the melting of ores and was used as an ingredient in producing these unique tumblers.

The Greentown company was short-lived, as it burned to the ground in 1902 after only 8 years of production. The tumbler was an advertising vehicle for National Biscuit Company and Uneeda Biscuit and was actually functional in an ingenious way. These tumblers were made to hold 1 dry pint of product and were used as a measuring device.

The company placed a tumbler in a half bushel basket of oyster crackers, animal crackers, and tiny cheese klip crackers. The grocer could keep or sell the tumbler after selling all the contents of the basket. The tumbler was one of the first, if not THE first “dealer loader” items.

In the year 1900, packaging did not exist as yet and product was bulk. My tumblers are 121 years old and are valued at $90 to $125 – if you can find them. After 1902 the National Biscuit Company developed a cereal bowl to advertise the new package of Uneeda Biscuit by putting the famed Uneeda Boy on 3 sides of the bowl. At last check these are on E-bay for about $50, depending on condition.

This is just an example of knowledge I came onto with curiosity and now have a greater appreciation for a collectible as history and not just a “thing” to have.

You too, can add to the joy of the season by taking one item and search the W’s.

Happy Holidays!

Jerry Glenn, former owner of Legends and Reminisce gift shop, currently is appraising trading card collections.