Trash or Treasure: “A Better Kind of Mousetrap”

Trash or Treasure: “A Better Kind of Mousetrap”


I am on a mission to visit all of the historical society museums within the publishing borders of East Bay Newspapers. I recently revisited the Bristol Historical Society’s museum and with the school’s spring vacation coming up, there is plenty to see there, for young and old. If you have never visited, it is located in what was formally the Bristol Jailhouse. Yes, the barred cells are still there and kids love to be “locked up.” There is a Toy Room with antique dolls, a dollhouse and lots of other toys from days gone by; another room has ship models. You could spend hours there.
Assistant Curator Ray Battcher gave me a tour of the museum and pointed out one of his favorites in the Toy Room. This mousetrap looks more like a doll house than mousetrap. He demonstrated how it works. First the mouse enters through the “front door” lured by a reflection of itself from a mirror inside (in addition to food).  Once the mouse is inside (nails around the entrance allow passage in but not out, its weight springs a trap door and it falls below into “jail”. The top is removable to see and have access to “the prisoner”, which seems to have been designed for the mouse to become a pet rather than a death-row inmate. It is ingenious! The museum has it dated from the 1840’s and due to the architectural style, this seems accurate. I did some research and did not find anything similar, but I did find  an avid collector of antique mousetraps who has an incredible array on his website. Some seem downright cruel. There are guillotine styles as well as some with long sharp spikes on them. His website is called “Mousetrap Boy.”

Q. I was wondering if you are familiar with the artist of this picture of the “Rhodes on the Pawtuxet?” It is signed and framed; it is numbered # 222/500. Can you tell me its current value?
A. W. Spence Crooke was a Rhode Island artist who mostly worked in watercolors. Most of his works were of RI landmarks including Rhodes on the Pawtuxet. He passed away in 2004. The prints themselves are not worth much on their own and not knowing what type of frame it is in, I would put your print in the $50-$75 range in the secondary market (if you bought it at an antique shop). It would have more local appeal due to the subject and artist is mostly known in the Rhode Island area. Several galleries and frame shops still offer this print for sale.

Q. I saw your article in the Sakonnet Times and thought of a pen my grandfather had.  I don’t know that we would part with it, but was wondering if you could tell me what it is worth?  I have attached a closed and opened picture of the fountain pen which is only about 2″ long.  The bottom and top screw together and there is a tiny inscription on the side of the pen which reads “DELUXE JUNIOR”.  There is some writing on the nib, but the only thing I can read is the number 4.
A. Your gold filled pen was made in the 1930’s by Parker. The Deluxe Junior at 2 7/16” long and the nib size is 4 (crimped tip). Condition plays a role in price but most found were in the area of $30.

Karen Waterman is an antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter of email with a question, your give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to [email protected] Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Att. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.