QUESTION: Please tell me about my necklace, which appears to be made of plastic, one of several items that I have in herited. It's in good condition. — M.L.

ANSWER: Your necklace is made of Catalin, the brand name for a thermosetting polymer, similar to Bakelite. Catalin was invented and patented in 1927 by American Catalin Corp. in New York.

Catalin also was popular for tabletop radio cabinets, which are in demand and sell for a premium. However, Catalin mostly was used for small household objects, such as cutlery handles, small boxes, buttons and jewelry. It was popular between 1930 and 1945.

Catalin jewelry was expensive to produce because each piece had to be cast and finished by hand. Your necklace is worth about $150.

QUESTION: I recently acquired a chinoiserie display cabinet, and I would like to know more about it. There is a metal plate inside a drawer marked "Union National Fine Furniture, Jamestown, N.Y." The piece is hand-painted and signed by the artist, C. Gaeto. It is in good condition with original paint and bubble-glass doors. — B.B.

ANSWER: The Union National Furniture Co. of Jamestown, N.Y., was formed in 1939 from the National Furniture Co., which had been in business since the early 1890s. Both companies were owned and operated by the Nord family. Union National closed in 1994, still operated by the Nords but owned by Wall Street financier Webb Turner.

The Nords made quality high-end furniture. Union National catered to many famous people, including Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball and William Holden. All of the furniture was made of quality hardwood. Painted pieces were done by skilled artists, such as Gaeto. The furniture was expensive and still brings top dollar.

Your 1970s or '80s display cabinet with a hand painted finish and curved glass is worth $1,200 to $1,800.

Email questions to home@ with a jpg digital image, or send a complete description with a clear photograph (no plain-paper scans) to Jay Moore, Flair Department, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 300 E. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23219. The large volume of mail may mean a delay in publishing answers.

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