Antiques & Collectibles

Bottle Caps Are Transformed Into Furniture and Art

This bottle-cap chair and footstool by artist Rick Ladd sold at a recent auction for $492.
Terry Kovel, November 2017

Some modern artists like to make something out of nothing by using discarded metal, signs, cans, tools, machine parts and other trash to form useful pieces of art. One of the most popular discards is metal crown bottle caps. The crown cap, the type used on soda bottles, was invented in 1892. Soon ads and logos were printed on the caps, and they were considered trash after the bottle’s contents were emptied.

But the caps were colorful and round, so eventually large pieces were created, like bottle-cap chains strung with hundreds of caps and smoking stands made from the chains. Caps were painted and used as game pieces like checkers, and a trivet shaped like a bunch of grapes was made from caps covered with crocheted yarn. There also were planters, purses, bottle-cap “buttons” made with magnets and jewelry, especially cross-shaped pendants.

Many of these can be found pictured online, but the most popular are the man and woman figures made as a Boy Scout project in the 1950s. The figures had arms and legs made with strings and caps, a wooden body and head, and it held a small colored aluminum bowl. The women often had hoop earrings and colorful costumes. Pairs were dressed and named appropriately as “Calypso” or “Trampman.”

But a modern artist named Rick Ladd made the most spectacular and artistic pieces — a chair and footstool — in 1991. Loops of bottle-cap chains, flat wooden frame sections decorated with caps that show the original brand art, and glass formed a 20-inch-high chair and footstool. They sold at a recent Skinner auction in Boston for $492. A matching chest of drawers brought $884, and a picture frame sold for $677.

Q: How much are the 1996 edition of Pokemon cards worth? The cards are American and Japanese, and are in albums. How can someone find out her much they’re worth?

A: Pokemon started out as a video game for Game Boy in February 1996. The name Pokemon is a contraction of the words “Pocket Monster.” The first Pokemon cards were Pocket Monster cards issued in Japan in October 1996. There were 102 cards in the set. The first Pokemon cards in English were in the Demo Game pack, issued in limited quantity in December 1998. The first set of 102 cards in English was issued in the U.S. in January 1999.

There are over 700 different Pokemon characters today. Incomplete sets of cards sell online for a few dollars. Value is determined by rarity and condition. The best place to find current values is to go to a card show or to a store that sells cards.

Terry Kovel writes about the latest news of the antiques market. Her website is


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