Twisted frame is quite puzzling

A reader discovered this with a metal detector while looking for artifacts around a 1930s farmhouse.

Courtesy of John Sikorski
Published: Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 10:54 a.m.

Q: We found this rusted frame with a metal detector when we were looking for artifacts around an old 1930s farmhouse near White Springs. It seemed like just a bunch of wires joined together like a child's puzzle until I figured out how it went together. Do you know what it was?

— K.C.N., Internet

A: No, I do not know what the old rusted metal frame was used for. My guess is for neon lighting. Perhaps our readers will have an opinion for its use.

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Q: Enclosed are pictures of an American flag that has been in our family for a long time. This flag is currently at our daughter's home, but we are considering selling it and were wondering if you could tell us how to go about it. Here is the history of the flag: This flag was given to my great-grandfather, Washington Mullin, born Sept. 28, 1837, in Philadelphia, and died Nov. 28, 1904, in New York City. Washington and his wife, Margaretta C. Fabri, lived on West 131st Street in New York City. Mullin worked for both the police and fire departments in New York City. This flag was given to him upon his retirement.

This flag has 38 stars, so was most likely made in 1877 when Colorado became a state. The flag hung above the fire department where Mullin was a fireman. The flag measures 17 feet, 5 inches long and 8 feet, 11 inches wide. The stars are hand-sewn and are on both sides of the "field of blue" background. The stripes are machine-sewn. The material of the flag is linen and in excellent condition.

Enclosed are pictures of the flag. The first picture shows Mullin's name and address written on the flag.

The second picture is of the miniature helmet given to Mullin, which has his initials on it, as well as "22hose."

The third picture is of Mullin, himself. This picture was taken in 1895, and is in excellent condition.

— M.H., Gainesville

A: What a wonderful family heirloom, complete with the known provenance. My guess is the flag would sell for less than $1,000. I suggest you contact Cowan's Auction Company. They specialize in historic American artifacts, and regularly sell 19th century American flags. They are located in Cincinnati. The website is The phone number is 513-871-1670. Let us know how things work out.

John Sikorski is an Ocala antiques dealer. He hosts a call-in radio show, "Sikorski's Attic,'' on WUFT-FM (89.1 FM). It can be heard each Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. Send your questions to Sikorski's Attic, c/o The Gainesville Sun, 2700 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608-2015; or email

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