Those attending this year’s Kalona Historical Village Tea at 3 p.m. on June 8 will be treated to a special presentation by Kalona Historical Society Board member Greg Boyd about his toothpick holder collection.
Boyd, who has a collection of over 1,100 toothpick holders, is inviting those attending the Tea to bring some of their special toothpick holders and he will try identify them and let you know if they have any value. He will be bringing along reference books about the various types of toothpick holders.
Boyd and his wife, Connie, have been collecting toothpick holders for nearly 30 years. Greg and Connie are members of the National Toothpick Holder Collectors Society. Greg serves as treasurer and Connie is the association’s historian. They have attended national conventions from New Hampshire to Oregon and are planning to attend this year’s convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
The glory days of toothpick holders was from about 1880’s to 1920’s when numerous glass companies were making them. The makers of toothpick holders fell off when it no longer became popular to pick your teeth in public. Plus cheaper toothpick holders from abroad made it harder for the American glass companies to compete.
“There are a large variety of styles and shapes of toothpick holders,” said Boyd. “There are clear glass, silver plate, art glass and other colored glass to name a few.”
Boyd said they have an auction at the toothpick holders national convention and some high-end holders will sell from $200 to $300, but one was auctioned off for $1,000. Most at auction sell anywhere from $25-$100.
“I bought one custard toothpick holder for $35 from the Kalona Antique Co. and sold it at auction for $1,000,” he noted, “definitely a lucky find!” Some of the more valuable types are made by the A.H. Heisey Co. and the Mt. Washington and New England Glass Companies.
While Boyd is very knowledgeable and enthused about collecting toothpick holders, he also has several other collections including Santa Clauses, Star Wars items, toys and several other collectibles.