The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of December 19 to December 26, 2019


Affordable Gift Ideas for Anyone on your List

Gravel tray gift idea
photo credit: Melinda Myers, LLC

The holidays are upon us and busy schedules often send us into a panic when looking for the perfect gift for those on our list. No matter your budget, there are affordable gift options your friends and family will love.

Tools are always a welcome gift. Most gardeners are reluctant to invest in that cool new hand trowel, shovel or rake. And that’s what makes them a great gift. Or create a starter kit from your extra tools for a new homeowner or gardener. Clean them up, sharpen the blades and bundle them with a bow. Add a gift card from a nearby garden center if your budget allows.

Help your favorite gardener avoid skin cancer and protect their hands when working in the garden by creating a garden basket with gloves, a hat and sunscreen.

Clean up a corner of the basement or spare bedroom to create a seed starting station. Purchase the lights and fixtures or set a table in front of a sunny window. And if your budget is limited, scour the garage and shed or talk to gardening friends to secure items that can be cleaned and reused.

Or give your favorite gardener all they need to start a windowsill herb garden or terrarium. Purchase or recycle the containers and take cuttings, make divisions or purchase the plants you need.

A trip to the basement or thrift store may provide the perfect vessel for your terrarium. Convert an old aquarium into a tropical biodome. A large clear glass serving dish, salad bowl or vase may make a unique terrarium sure to intrigue the recipient and their guests.

Help your favorite indoor gardener dress up their favorite hanging plants. Macramé is back in vogue and adding flare to indoor gardens. Create a few plant hangers from jute and beads.

Preserve a garden memory with a photo of your or the recipient’s garden or favorite plants. A collection of photos can be made into a calendar for a gift that keeps giving all year long.

Share a bit of your garden. Pass along some seeds you saved or start a few cuttings from your favorite heirloom houseplant. Dress up your gift with a painted pot or basket.

And don’t forget to share some dried herbs and flowers or preserves made from your garden harvest. Nothing tastes better or is more beautiful than when it’s homegrown. Don’t have extra this year? Make a note on next year’s calendar and plan ahead.

Give the gift of time. Most of us can use an extra set of hands at certain times of the garden season. No dusting required and it’s a great way to ensure time together.

Put your artistic skills to work and create a garden journal. A simple notebook dressed up with some photos, artwork or stickers can provide an attractive and inviting place for your favorite gardener to record their gardening successes, failures and other useful garden information.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. And getting friends and family involved in creating these gifts is a great way to enjoy time together while preparing for the holidays.

Melinda Myers has written numerous books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing writer for Birds & Blooms magazine and her website is


Silver Flutes

Antique silver flute

We auction many antique and vintage musical instruments found in local homes and estates. Musical instruments are often overlooked by the owners, but some can be very valuable. Rare violins can sell for six figure sums and Stradivarius violins have sold for millions. We sold a Hawaiian steel guitar that brought figures in the low thousands. A cello fetched $1,300. A sterling silver flute sold even better when it brought a figure in the mid-thousands.

Flutes have a very long history. In 2008 a flute was discovered at Hohle Fels Cave in Germany that dates back at least 35,000 years, according to The flute has 5 finger holes, is 8.5 inches long, and was made from the bone of a vulture. Other flutes of similar age have also been discovered in Southwestern Germany. notes that the flute we typically see in Western music is the “transverse flute held sideways to the right of the player.” They were used in Ancient Greece and Etruria in the second century BC. They were then played in India, followed by China and Japan. 16th century flutes combined a tenor flute, descant flute, and bass flute. In the 17th century the Hotteterre family of Paris created a conical flute “made in separate joints, the head joint being cylindrical, the others contracting toward the foot.” There were some other advancements before Theobald Boehm replaced “closed chromatic keys with open-standing keys, devising for their manipulation a system of ring keys on longitudinal axles” in 1832. Boehm continued his work to refine the instrument. In 1847 he created a flute with a “cylindrical bore (having a contracting or parabolic head)” which is the design that has been used since.

Flutes made from silver can be very valuable. The silver flutes look similar to common nickel-silver flutes. You can look to see if it is marked sterling (92.5% pure silver) or Ag 998 which are 99.8% pure silver.

Many craftsmen and manufacturers have made silver flutes that have sold well at auction. A silver flute made by Wm. A Haynes sold for $3,000 in 2008. A Verne Q Powell flute went for $4,250 in a 2014 auction. A John Lunn flute sold for $5,600 in 2011. A Louis Lot silver flute reached $8,000 at an auction in 2011. A Boehm system silver flute also sold for $15,000 in 2011.

Custom flutes can be made from even more valuable materials. William S. Haynes of Boston currently offers flutes made of silver and 5% gold, 10-karat, 14-karat and 19.5-karat gold along with platinum. A 9-karat antique gold European flute struck a note with a bidder and sold for $18,000 at auction in 2013.

A Lillian Burkart 99.8% silver flute will be among the offerings in our January 30th antique estates auction in Worcester. I’ll be teaching my “Evaluating your antiques” class on March 3rd at the Bay Path Adult Education program in Charlton. Other events are being scheduled. Please see for details on these and other events.

Contact us at: Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser Central Mass Auctions for Antique Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services (508-612- 6111)