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-- You've brought in quite an interesting piece today. What can you tell us about it?
-- I know it belonged to my great-great-great grandmother named Emma Hasenpfefferburgher, and it's been passed down from generation to generation. My mother says she thinks it was some kind of ceremonial baton or a cane, but she's not really sure so I was hoping you could tell me ...
-- Actually, these small diameter wooden staffs were quite common in the Ohio River Valley back in the early 19th century. As you might know, at that time, Cincinnati's population consisted largely of rigid, humorless Germans and this walnut hinterstock, or heinie stick, is what nearly all those early settlers had up their asses. It's quite rare to see one of these hinterstock because they were rarely removed and subsequent generations of Cincinnatians soon began to internalize the narrow, grim and sour Teutonic attitude without need of the actual stick. Today, the only stick remaining up Cincinnati's ass is purely figurative. As far as value goes, German rectal collectibles are very desirable these days, and I'd place it in the 1000 to 1500 marks range.
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-- ... I found this in a bar a few weeks ago, under a table. I thought it looked pretty old and thought I'd bring it in and find out if it was worth anything.
-- What you've brought us here is Marge Schott.
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-- That's quite a cracker you have there.
-- Yes. I bought this in 1963 at a garage sale. When I first saw it, I thought it was a yard sculpture, but then the old man who was selling it said it was a giant cracker he'd had for years. Well, I told him I couldn't buy it because it wouldn't fit in my VW Bug. So he said for an extra $2, he'd deliver it to my house in his pickup truck. And that's all I know about it.
-- OK. Well, what you have here is, indeed, a very old cracker. One dating back to the 1940s. Back then, the chili parlors in town -- Empress and Skyline -- were just developing their restaurants and menus and they knew crackers would be the perfect companion to the spicy 3-ways and 5-ways. But they also wanted something unique, something unusual. Together, they decided on an animal shaped cracker but soon found out all the good animals were already patented for cracker use by Nabisco, and the only phylum they could license for baking was mollusks. The cracker you have here is the original mollusk cracker they produced and served. It was called the cephalopod cracker, because it's the size and shape of an adult octopus. Eventually, for cost reasons, the chili chains scaled these down into nautilus crackers, then quahog crackers and finally to the miniature oyster crackers so familiar today. Your cracker is in near mint condition, with all of its tentacles intact and a great deal of its original salt. If you auctioned this in a crackerless room of chili eaters, and didn't let them check it for freshness, I would expect it to bring upwards of $300.
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-- I got this teddy bear from a friend as security on a loan. She told me it was a Steiff bear, which I've always heard are valuable. So when I read you all were coming to town, I thought I'd bring him in and find out exactly what he's worth.
-- I see. Well, I'm sorry to inform you that what you have is not a Steiff bear. Not even close, in fact. This comes from a promotion Furniture Fair, a local retailer, was running a few months ago, where buyers got a free bear with every purchase. You might remember the TV commercials, with Anthony Munoz and Ed, the short, bald store proprietor. The ads were quite interesting in themselves because the dialogue and interaction of the two men gave rise to the almost universal belief that they were gay lovers. But back to the issue at hand: For any viewers watching who might find themselves in a similar situation, remember, one surefire way to tell if friends are giving you a Furniture Fair bear instead of a Steiff is if their house is full of cheesy, tacky furnishings.
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-- Now let's take a short break from the floor and visit Cincinnati's historic Poley's Big and Tall Museum, where the collection consists entirely of the gigantic pants of William Howard Taft, America's fattest president.