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Kovels - Antiques & Collecting

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of Nov. 17, 2014

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Written by TERRY AND KIM KOVEL   
Monday, 17 November 2014 13:28

Look at the bottom of a vase to identify it. This vase has marks indicating it is a piece of Rookwood pottery made in 1883 by a talented decorator. It auctioned for $5,290 at Humler & Nolan of Cincinnati. Unmarked it would have sold for much less.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Rookwood pottery, made in Cincinnati since 1880, is perhaps the most popular American art pottery among collectors. The company not only made artist-decorated vases, molded bookends, art-deco figurines and commercial wares, but it also used marks that tell a collector exactly what it is. Until 1886 the mark was the year in numerals and the name Rookwood. In 1886 a new mark was chosen – a backward capital letter "R" leaning against a capital letter "P." A flame was added to a circle around the top of the mark each year until 1900. After that, a Roman numeral for the last two digits of the year was put under the mark. So 1904 was a flame mark with IV at the bottom. The company went out of business in 1967, but was later bought and sold several times.

In 2011 the business was bought by Martin and Marilyn Wade, Cincinnati real estate developers. Today Rookwood uses a new mark – the flame mark with the year in Roman numerals. So 2014 would be marked MMXIV. Other letter marks represent the color and type of clay, numbers 1 to 7301 tell the shape, and initials tell the name of the artist. All of these codes can be found in books or websites about Rookwood. It helps to know this history, but a collector should judge a piece of Rookwood by the quality of the glaze and the skill of the decorator, and then add extra value for condition, size, age, the fame of the decorator, and how much you like the piece.

Humler & Nolan, an auction gallery in Cincinnati, sold a 14-inch-high vase with early Limoges-style decoration that was probably made by the founder of the pottery, Maria Longworth Nichols. It's marked "Rookwood 1883." Although it was chipped and restored, the quality of the decoration, large size and artist attribution attracted a bid of $5,290.

Q: My old porcelain figurine is a bathing beauty posed on her tummy under a turtle's shell. The woman's backside is exposed. My aunt gave me the figure years ago and I think she owned it since the 1920s. What can you tell me about it?

A: Your bathing beauty figurine, sometimes called a "naughty novelty," is a form familiar to collectors. Posed porcelain figures of partially clad women on or under turtle's shells have been around since the early 1900s. Figures made in Germany before World War I are well made and sell today for $100 to $400. Similar novelties made in Japan before or after World War II sell for less.

Q: I have a Polyphon music box from Germany that plays music from perforated metal discs. There are nine discs with song titles from the 1880s and '90s. I'm downsizing and would like to sell it. How much is it worth?

A: Disc music boxes were invented in 1870. Polyphon Musikwerke was founded in Leipzig, Germany, before 1890. Most Polyphone disc music boxes were made between 1895 and 1905. The company also made musical clocks and other items with musical mechanisms. Music boxes are measured by the size of the disc, not the height of the cabinet. Polyphon music boxes sell at auctions for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on size, rarity and condition. A Polyphon Excelsion tabletop single-comb music box and nine discs sold for $1,150 earlier this year.

Q: I'm trying to find a current value for an unopened 1974 Lionstone Lonely Luke figural decanter. The figure is an old cowboy sitting on a stump with a bottle in his hand and cup on the stump. The decanter is 10 1/2 inches tall and is still filled with whiskey. All the original labels still are on and very readable. What is it worth?

A: Limited-edition figural liquor decanters were very popular in the 1970s but don't sell well today. Prices have gone down. Lonely Luke decanters were part of Lionstone's Old West series of decanters. They held whiskey, port or liqueur. Collectors like the miniature version, 4 3/8 inches tall, issued in 1975. It sells for about $5 today.

Q: I have a breakfast set of four place settings of Franciscan Strawberry Fair dishes. I would like to sell the set.

A: From 1980 to 1982, Franciscan made two strawberry patterns, Strawberry Fair and Strawberry Time, on the same shapes. Strawberry Fair has a cream-colored background and Strawberry Time a green-tinted background. Sets of dishes are hard to sell. You can find them for sale online on eBay and replacements.com. Sources that sell dinnerware usually will buy dinnerware, but you can expect to get about half the price they sell it for.

Q: My parents gave me their antique bedroom set. It includes a nightstand, twin beds, a dresser with a mirror and a chest of drawers. Each piece is stamped "West End Furniture Company, Rockford, Illinois." I was told the wood is golden oak. Can you give me information on the company?

A: West End Furniture Co. was in business in Rockford from 1890 to 1941. The company made bedroom furniture, bookcases, buffets, desks, folding beds, tables and other furniture and offered lines of "medium" and "fine grade" furniture. Many Swedish furniture makers settled in Rockford, and at one time it was the second largest center of furniture manufacturing in the world.

Tip: When freezing old clothes to kill any insects, check the buttons first. Pewter, painted glass or ceramic buttons may be damaged by the cold.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

 

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Erector set, rocket launcher, Gilbert, box, 1959, $35.
  • Table, cast iron, marble top, cabriole legs, Britannia busts, shield, shelf, 30 x 28 inches, $95.
  • Delft tankard, hinged lid, loop handle, pewter thumb-rest, blue, yellow, red, green, signed, c. 1800, 9 inches, $230.
  • Model boat, Louisiana shrimper, fancy dancer, wood, painted, Angola Prison, 21 x 25 inches, $300.
  • Sampler, alphabet, numbers, floral urns, baskets, Mary Burton, aged 9, silk, linen, frame, 1827, 20 x 20 inches, $330.
  • Silver plaque, Mt. Rushmore, signed, 5 x 8 inches, $450.
  • Folk art diorama, hunter, dog pursuing deer, carved, painted, 10 x 16 inches, $480.
  • Doorknocker, Egyptian head clapper, iron, pyramid shape, Judd Co., 5 in. $510.
  • Veterinarian trade sign, horse's head, flowing mane, brown, c. 1900, 21 inches, $3,600.
  • Bronze centerpiece, Louis XVI style, divided carnation stems, flower candlesticks, clear vase, c. 1945, 21 inches, $5,000.

Contemporary, modern and mid-century ceramics made since 1950 are among the hottest collectibles today. Our special report, "Kovels' Buyers' Guide to Modern Ceramics: Mid-Century to Contemporary" identifies important pottery by American and European makers. Includes more than 65 factories and 70 studio artists, each with a mark and dates. Works by major makers, including Claude Conover, Guido Gambone, Lucie Rie, as well as potteries like Gustavsberg, Metlox and Sascha Brastoff, are shown in color photos. Find the "sleepers" at house sales and flea markets. Special Report, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, 64 pp. Available only from Kovels for $19.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996, online at Kovels.com; or write to Kovels, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

Look at the bottom of a vase to identify it. This vase has marks indicating it is a piece of Rookwood pottery made in 1883 by a talented decorator. It auctioned for $5,290 at Humler & Nolan of Cincinnati. Unmarked it would have sold for much less. 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2014 13:40
 

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of Nov. 10, 2014

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Written by TERRY AND KIM KOVEL   
Monday, 10 November 2014 13:43

The hat comes off this Uncle Sam stein and his head can be filled with beer. This red, white and blue Schierholz example sold for $5,040 in 2014 at Fox Auctions of Vallejo, Calif.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Uncle Sam seems very happy, perhaps because he is 101 years old this year. Or perhaps because his likeness has been used on a beer stein. How did he become famous? The initials "U.S." were put on barrels of beef sent to the U.S. military during the War of 1812. Soldiers said the barrels' U.S. mark stood for "Uncle Sam." A newspaper reporter thought that was an interesting story and soon Uncle Sam became the nickname for the entire United States. But the picture of Uncle Sam as he looks today was not used until the 1860s, when Thomas Nast, the political cartoonist, created a man with a white beard and stars-and-stripes clothing.

A beer stein that looks like that Uncle Sam was made by Schierholz Porcelain of Plaue, Germany, in about 1890. The company, started in 1818, has undergone many changes in ownership and names, but it's still working. The Uncle Sam stein is rare – only a few colored examples are known.

Several porcelain reproductions were made from 1986 to 1995, some multicolored and some with allover "honey" glaze. A more recent reproduction is made of pottery.

In 2014, a colorful Schierholz Uncle Sam stein sold for $5,040 at Fox Auctions in Vallejo, Calif.

Q: I'm 85 years old. After Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, I started collecting and selling scrap iron. Using that money, I bought a $25 U.S. war bond dated Dec. 23, 1942. I never cashed it and still have it. Is it worth more as a collectible than it does as a bond?

A: If the bond has your name on it, you or your heirs are the only ones who can redeem it. You paid $18.75 for your $25 bond in 1942. It stopped accruing interest in 1982, but over 40 years it earned $81.20 in interest. So today it's worth $99.95. A collector would not pay anywhere near that price for the bond. If you like the way it looks, scan it in color and frame the image. Then go ahead and cash the bond.

Q: My father was stationed at Schweinfurt, Germany, at the end of World War II. He didn't smoke, so he used his ration of cigarettes to trade with locals for various items. One of these was a series of 15 drawings, 15 by 19 inches, of workers doing various tasks at the Schweinfurt Ball Bearing factory. The drawings were done in 1934 and 1935 and are in a linen presentation case with the letters "SFK" above "F&S" in a circle in the upper left corner of the cover. Since the Allied bombers heavily bombed Schweinfurt during the war, I have no idea if  many of these drawings still exist. What would be the approximate value of this set of drawings?

A: Most of the ball bearings used by Germany's Nazi forces were made in the city of Schweinfurt in 1939. The Allied bombing raids in 1943 were conducted in an effort to destroy Germany's ability to produce airplane parts. "SKF" stands for Schwedische Kugellagerfabriken, a Swedish company that had a division in Germany that made ball bearings. "F & S" stands for Fichtel & Sachs, another major ball-bearing manufacturer. Drawings of working factories sell well today. The price would be determined mainly by the fame of the artist.

Q: I bought a vase at a thrift store for $2. It's metal, has a raised tree design and is marked "McClelland Barclay" on the bottom. I learned he was an illustrator, but found no information about his metalwork. Can you help?

A: McClelland Barclay (1891-1942) worked in New York City as a commercial artist and magazine illustrator. He was a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago and famous for his war posters, Saturday Evening Post "girls" and Ladies Home Journal covers. He designed jewelry for the Rice-Weiner Co. from 1939 to 1943. He also designed household accessories, such as metal bowls, bookends, vases, ashtrays, desk sets and lamps, all signed with his name. Barclay was a U.S. Navy officer during World War II. He died when his ship was torpedoed near the Solomon Islands. Your vase is worth about $175.

Q: I have a pair of antique Bohlin chaps. They say "Made in Hollywood, California." They have stainless-steel conchas and buckles on them. They were owned by my grandmother, who claimed they originally belonged to Roy Rogers. Are they of any value?

A: Emil Helge Bohlin (1895-1980) was a Swedish immigrant who came to the United States in 1912. By 1916 he was working with a blacksmith in Cody, Wyo., making buckles, bits and spurs. In 1920 he opened a shop and made leather goods as well as buckle sets. He moved to Hollywood in the early 1920s and opened Hollywood Novelty and Leather Shop, where he made silver and leather goods. The business was renamed Edward H. Bohlin Inc., by 1926, and he started marking his pieces, "Bohlinmade, Hollywood, California." Many Hollywood stars, including Roy Rogers, bought silver and leather goods from Bohlin. Bohlin's company, still in business, is now in Los Angeles. Bohlin chaps have sold at auction recently for prices ranging from under $500 for a simple pair with no decoration to over $2,000. More elaborate pairs sell for much more. So would a pair once owned by Roy Rogers – but you would have to prove it

Tip: Avoid hanging your sports pennants in direct sunlight. They fade rapidly. Even indirect sunlight can fade felt. Display pennants in frames under UV glass. Avoid thumbtacks, which leave rusty holes.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

 

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Circus mallet, metal, wood, inscribed, Ringling Bros., 1898, 31 inches, $90.
  • Hutschenreuther figural group, Bremen town musicians, three animals on top of each other, 7 1/2 inches, $150.
  • Doorstop, drum major, holding baton, red, white, Littco Products, 12 3/4 x 3 5/8 inches, $236.
  • Bohemian glass beaker, enamel, gilt flowers, tapered, cylindrical, 4 1/8 inches, 8 pieces, $260.
  • Popeye tank, rollover, tin lithograph, die-cut figures, windup, Linemar, Japan, 4 inches, $265.
  • Mason's fraternal medal, District Deputy - Grand Masters, silver gilt, J. Bennett, 3 1/2 inches, $350.
  • Movie poster, The Killers, Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, 1956, 27 x 41 inches, $750.
  • Watercolor, cowboy tumbling off horse, steer, L. Reddy, c. 1945, 15 x 18 inches, $840.
  • Bookcase, Regency style, mahogany, carved, reeded surround, Anglo-Colonial, 89 x 55 in. $955.
  • Sterling-silver meat platter, Maintenon pattern, laurel border, oval, Gorham, 1925, 18 1/2 inches, $1,188.

Kovels' A Diary: How to Settle a Collector's Estate. Our new week-by-week record of the settlement of an estate, from your first days gathering legal papers to the last days when you're dividing antiques among heirs and selling everything else – even the house. How to identify pottery, jewelry and other popular collectibles. Tips on where and how to sell furniture, jewelry, dishes, figurines, record albums, bikes and even clothes. We include lots of pictures and prices and explain the advantages of a house sale, auction, selling to a dealer or donating to a charity. Learn about how to handle the special problems of security and theft. Plus a free current supplement with useful websites, auctions lists and other current information. Available only from Kovels for $19.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996, online at Kovels.com, or write to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

The hat comes off this Uncle Sam stein and his head can be filled with beer. This red, white and blue Schierholz example sold for $5,040 in 2014 at Fox Auctions of Vallejo, Calif. 

Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 14:01
 

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of Nov. 3, 2014

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Written by TERRY AND KIM KOVEL   
Monday, 03 November 2014 13:47

Cherry-Fizz was a drink made from soda water and cherry-flavored syrup. Although the first soda fountains opened in the United States in the early 1800s, they were most popular in the 1940s and 1950s. This Cherry-Fizz dispenser sold for $19,200 at a 2014 Morphy auction held in Denver, Pa.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Ice-cream scoops, soda fountain syrup dispensers and urns, advertisements, even old soda glasses and sundae dishes are selling quickly. Nostalgia has kept the prices high for things that bring back memories of the old-fashioned drugstore soda fountain. A white ceramic Crawford's Cherry-Fizz syrup dispenser with gold, orange, green and red lettering and nine cherries as decorations auctioned for $19,200 at Morphy Auction's August 2014 sale in Denver, Pa. It was just one of the 130 syrup dispensers in the auction. Seventy percent of them sold for more than $1,000. Prices were high because the syrup dispensers were in good to great condition and had their pumps and all other parts. A record price for a dispenser was set at the same auction: $69,000 for a Pepsi-Cola syrup urn in excellent condition that we think resembles pieces of 1904 Roseville pottery by Frederick Hurten Rhead.

Q: Years ago, I bought an old wooden dictionary stand. It's about 3 feet tall, has angled sides and two lower shelves. There's a small metal plate on the bottom shelf that reads "Baker Office Furniture Co., Pittsburg, Pa." There is no "h" in Pittsburg. Can you tell me something about it so I can pass it on to younger family members? Does it have any value?

A: Your dictionary stand was made between 1891 and 1911. Pennsylvania's city of Pittsburg was chartered in 1816 and the spelling of the name changed a few times. In 1891, the United States Board on Geographic Names ruled that the official spelling was without an "h." The decision was reversed in 1911. Edward Enzer Baker opened the first office furniture store in the country in 1889. In 1913 Baker Office Furniture Co. advertised a reorganization sale, offering old office furniture for sale and offering to buy used office furniture – or taking it as partial payment for new furniture. The company was still in business in the 1920s. The value of your dictionary stand: $95 to $250.

Q: I have a cast-iron Dutch oven and lid. It's embossed "Griswold No. 8 Tite-Top Dutch Oven" around the lid and "Erie Pa., U.S.A." on the bottom. Value?

A: Griswold's history dates back to 1865. But the company was not named Griswold Manufacturing Co. until about 1884. It operated in Erie until 1957. Griswold made a few different "Tite-Top" Dutch ovens marked "No. 8." Yours could date from before or after World War II, depending on its size and style. Most of them sell for $150 to $200. Griswold cast-iron cookware is popular with both collectors and cooks.

Q: I have a lamp with a pillow base that has a cast-bronze cat sitting on it. The cat's tail forms the lamp's stem. On the pillow is a medallion that has a fleur-de-lis inside a square and the words "Collection Francaise, Made in U.S.A." I bought the lamp at an auction. A man has now offered me double what I paid. Should I sell?

A: Your lamp isn't bronze. It's made of spelter, a zinc alloy less valuable than bronze. It's also called "French Bronze." In 1907 J.B. Hirsch, a Romanian metal-smith, started the New York Metal Art Bronze Works in Manhattan to import pieces from French foundries. After World War I, he traveled to Paris, bought the company's molds and opened J.B. Hirsch, his own casting foundry, in the United States. During the 1930s, J.B. Hirsch made figural "French Bronze" lamps. From 1948 to 1963, Hirsch and his son Abraham reassembled hundreds of original bronze molds hidden during World War II. J.B. Hirsch is still in business in New Jersey as a division of Richmond Lighting. Your lamp probably was made in the 1960s or 1970s and is worth about $200. Now you can decide whether to sell the lamp.

Q: I bought six silver spoons at a garage sale a couple of years ago. They are 5 1/2 inches long and have a dragon on the front. They are marked on the back with "DK" in a diamond and "E.P." I tried to find information on these but had no luck. Can you tell me how old they are and how much they're worth?

A: The letters "E.P." stand for electroplate, a method of coating metal with a layer of silver that uses electric current. The mark "DK" may be for D.K. & Co., a company in Japan. Dragons are popular Japanese decorations. We found a pair of silver seafood forks marked "DK" decorated with pagodas for sale online for $30. Your spoons probably were made after 1930. Value of your set of six spoons: about $75.

Q: I discovered some old wooden tennis rackets while going through some old things. They're from the 1970s and are in good condition with no broken strings. Are they are collectible?

A: Almost anything associated with tennis is collected, including vintage rackets, metal cans that held balls, covers, presses, programs, etc. Early tennis rackets were made of layers of wood glued together and strung with gut. Metal rackets became popular in the late 1960s. Some collectors look for rackets made before 1920, some for racquets from a certain maker or endorsed by a professional player, and some for endorsed racquets that include a photo decal of the player. Wooden racquets should be kept in a wooden press or frame to prevent warping. You can find old rackets at garage sales and house sales, thrift stores, online, or at auctions. They sell for prices from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, depending on desirability, rarity and condition.

Tip: The acid or sulfur in eggs, onions, mayonnaise, tart salad dressing and salt will corrode the surface of silver or silver plate.

Need prices for your antiques and collectibles? Find them at Kovels.com, our website for collectors. You can find more than 900,000 prices and more than 11,000 color photographs that help you determine the value of your collectibles. Study the prices. Go to the free Price Guide at Kovels.com. The website also lists publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques, show lists and more. Kovels.com adds to the information in this column.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Trunk, campaign, painted, metal banded corners, hinged, footed, 1900s, 36 x 19 inches, $70.
  • Decoy, Canada goose, feeding, glass eyes, Delaware Valley, c. 1910, 26 x 7 inches, $280.
  • Hampshire Pottery chamberstick, green matte glaze, Keene, N.H., 1904-16, 6 1/2 inches, pair, $330.
  • Figurine, John F. Kennedy in rocker, Kamar, box, 11 inches, $380.
  • Clock, Schwinn ad, lights up, blue & red face, white rim, electric, Dualite Corp., 16 inches, $700.
  • Necklace, fish, champleve enamel, silver, Margot de Taxco, Mexico, c. 1948, 21 in. $810.
  • Sterling-silver tea service, Solitaire pattern, gilt, crested, scroll supports, fruit finial, c. 1873, 5 3/4 inches, 3 pieces, $835.
  • Howdy Doody band, Howdy dancing, Bob Smith at piano, tin lithograph, key wind, Unique Art, 5 inches, $945.
  • Bookcase, Art Nouveau, fruitwood, oval open compartment, flower detail, 2 glass doors, 63 x 34 inches, $1,600.
  • Carousel figure, camel, stander, outside row, carved, painted, Charles Dare, c. 1890, 43 1/2 x 55 in. $5,400.

New! Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2015, 47th edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. It's available now and includes a special bonus section that helps you determine prices if you're downsizing and selling your collectibles and antiques. If you order directly from the Kovels, you'll receive our FREE Companion eBook with ALL of the book's 35,000 prices-ready for downloading to your eReader. "Kovels" is the best book to own if you buy, sell or collect. The large-size paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs and 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You'll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks, a report on record prices, and helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available for $27.95 plus $4.95 postage. Purchase directly from the Kovels if you want the eBook Companion. Visit KovelsOnlineStore.com, call 800-303-1996, or write to Price Book, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

 



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

Cherry-Fizz was a drink made from soda water and cherry-flavored syrup. Although the first soda fountains opened in the United States in the early 1800s, they were most popular in the 1940s and 1950s. This Cherry-Fizz dispenser sold for $19,200 at a 2014 Morphy auction held in Denver, Pa. 

Last Updated on Monday, 03 November 2014 14:00
 

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of Oct. 27, 2014

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Written by TERRY AND KIM KOVEL   
Monday, 27 October 2014 10:46
This 5-inch-tall witch-head jack-o'-lantern made in Germany is probably from the 1920s. Although the paint has been touched up, it sold for $1,121 at a 2014 Bertoia auction in Vineland, N.J.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Halloween is the second most popular holiday among collectors of holiday memorabilia. Christmas comes first. But Halloween decorations are in such demand today that there are even mail-order catalogs and pop-up stores that feature nothing but Halloween. The idea behind Halloween goes back centuries, but the first Halloween parties that resembled modern celebrations of the holiday were costume parties for adults in the 1880s and 1890s. Costumes from those parties – some of the earliest Halloween collectibles – were almost always homemade.

Pressed-paper "veggie people," jack-o'-lanterns and other Halloween decorations were being made by the 1900s, mostly in Germany. By the 1920s, jack-o'-lanterns were made of a composition material, holes were made for the eyes and mouth, and a hand-painted piece of paper was glued inside to create a finished face. By the 1950s Halloween decorations were being made of hard plastic, and in the 1990s a strange sponge-like plastic was popular for soft jack-o'-lanterns.

Pre-1950 Halloween memorabilia is scarce, so prices are high. But beware: Many reproductions of early paper jack-o'-lanterns and Halloween candy containers have been made in Japan. New mail order catalogs sell copies of old pieces along with new life-size witches, ghosts, skeletons and zombies, as well as tombstones, black cats and huge blow-up monsters and spiders. These too will be popular collectibles in a few years.

Q: I have a hand-stitched stuffed toy dog covered in a red felt-like material. It has a tag that says "Shaggy" and another tag that says "Stuffed Toys, Registration Number 1, Approved, Pennsylvania." I'd like to know how old it is. I think Pennsylvania had a law that regulated what kind of stuffing could be used in plush toys, but I couldn't find the date for that. Can you help?

A: Pennsylvania enacted a law regulating the manufacture of stuffed toys for retail sale in 1961, so your toy dog is less 53 years old. The law has been amended several times. It requires "All New Material" or "All New (Type) Material," free from dangerous or harmful substances. It must meet flammability standards and the parts and decorations must be securely fastened. Manufacturers get a certificate of registration from the state after they meet the standards and pay a fee. The registration number must be shown on the toy.

Q: I'm 65 years old. When I was a child, my grandfather bought a Ross two-wheel bicycle for me. I've never seen one since then and wonder if the company is still in business.

A: Albert Ross founded Ross Galvanizing Works in 1940 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The company made pipes and fittings for fencing and military parts during World War II. It became Chain Bike Corp. in 1946, moved to Rockaway Beach in the 1950s, then to Allentown, Pa., in the 1970s. The company name became Ross Bicycles Inc. in 1982. It has been estimated that the company made over 15 million bicycles before it went bankrupt in 1989. The name "Ross" was bought by Rand Cycles of Farmingdale, N.Y. Rand made Ross children's bicycles in Asia for a few years, then discontinued the bicycle brand.

Q: I have a small oil lamp that was used in our two-generation family home in rural Illinois. My family owned the home from 1867 to 1950. The lamp has an amber glass base embossed "Wide Awake." It's 9 inches tall and 3 inches wide at the base, which has a finger handle. The acorn burner is brass and the chimney is clear glass. Please share its history and value.

A: Miniature finger lamps like yours often were called "night lamps" or "night lights." The name "Wide Awake" was one of many given to these small lamps. They were sold in the United States between about 1875 and the early 1900s. A "Wide Awake" lamp with a cobalt-blue base sold for $184 earlier this year.

Q: Years ago, I was given an armless rocking chair by a friend. The seat is upholstered and the back has a vase-shaped splat. A label on the bottom reads, "Brumby Chairs, Since 1875, The Brumby Chair Co., Marietta, Ga." It's not in the greatest condition, but I'm wondering what the chair is worth.

A: Brumby Chair Co. still is in business in Georgia. It is best known for its "Jumbo Rocker," a large rocking armchair with a hand-caned seat and back. The company sells a new Jumbo Rocker for $995. Your chair, in a less-desirable style and in less than perfect condition, would sell as a used piece of furniture. You might get $20 to $40 for it.

Q: My large fancy perfume bottle is labeled "Uninhibited" and "Cher." It has never been opened and is nearly a foot tall. Age? Price?

A: Cher's "Uninhibited" perfume was marketed from about 1988 to 1998. Your bottle is called a "factice," the word for a perfume display bottle set on a store's countertop. A full Cher factice in mint condition, like yours, sells for about $125.

Tip: Don't sticky-tape a top on a teapot. The decoration may come off with the tape. Secure a top with dental wax or earthquake wax.

Take advantage of a free listing for your group to announce events or to find antique shows, national meetings and other events. Go to the Calendar at Kovels.com to find, publicize and plan your antiquing trips.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

 

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Blue Bonnet creamer, Harmony House, 3 3/4 inches, $25.
  • Halloween candleholder, Yellow Kid-inspired, molded, painted, Germany, c. 1920, 3 1/4 x 2 inches, $160.
  • Egg basket, oak, woven, splint, kidney shape, double rim, arch handle, Appalachian, c. 1905, 4 x 5 inches, $430.
  • Clown riding pig toy, tin lithograph, windup, Gunthermann, 5 1/2 inches, $650.
  • Art glass vase, green, king on horseback scene, black enameled scrolls, wavy rim, c. 1900, 13 3/4 inches, $750.
  • Spittoon, iron, top-hat shape, painted porcelain lining, 8 x 10 x 10 inches, $1,005.
  • Banjo clock, Federal, mahogany, patriotic painted panels, gilt, inscribed "warranted L. Curtis, Mass.," c. 1820, 38 inches, $1,080.
  • "Play Football" game, coin-operated, oak, painted, Chester Pollard, c. 1930, 73 x 28 x 46 inches, $1,215.
  • Pier mirror, giltwood, eagle attacking serpent panel, twist-carved columns, c. 1890, 108 x 32 inches, $1,250.

Kovels' Buyers' Guide to Modern Ceramics: Mid-Century to Contemporary: New! Contemporary, modern and mid-century ceramics made since 1950 are among the hottest collectibles today. Our special report, "Kovels' Buyers' Guide to Modern Ceramics: Mid-Century to Contemporary" identifies important pottery by American and European makers. Includes more than 65 factories and 70 studio artists, each with a mark and dates. Works by major makers including Claude Conover, Guido Gambone, Lucie Rie, as well as potteries like Gustavsberg, Metlox and Sascha Brastoff, are shown in color photos. Find the "sleepers" at house sales and flea markets. Special Report, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, 64 pp. Available only from Kovels for $19.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996, online at Kovels.com ; or mail to Kovels, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
This 5-inch-tall witch-head jack-o'-lantern made in Germany is probably from the 1920s. Although the paint has been touched up, it sold for $1,121 at a 2014 Bertoia auction in Vineland, N.J.
Last Updated on Monday, 27 October 2014 17:02
 

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of Oct. 20, 2014

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Written by TERRY AND KIM KOVEL   
Monday, 20 October 2014 12:32

This 19th century Dutch walnut secretary with inlay sold for $2,214 at New Orleans Auction Galleries. It is an example of the bargains that are now seen at auctions because of the drop in prices of what the trade calls 'brown furniture.'

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – What a bargain! Often an authentic antique sells for less than a modern copy. Since the price of antique wooden ("brown") furniture has dropped in the last few years, the good news is that there are many bargains for a buyer looking for an older style.

Fewer home sales mean fewer furnishings sales, and the prices of antiques have suffered.

Few Americans grew up with a 19th-century inlaid secretary from Holland in the house. Dutch designs were elaborate, with curved legs, domed cornices, mirrored door fronts, even a slant-front opening covered by a flip top that served as a desk. And of course there were drawers, candle slides and cubbyholes. It is the perfect piece for a period room or as an accent piece in a simple modern room. And the drawers furnish good storage space.

A new reproduction piece like this would have plain, not inlaid, surfaces and probably straighter legs and less trim. A top-quality copy would cost about $5,000. At a 2014 auction, a 7-foot-high secretary desk that could easily be moved into a modern room with the usual 8-foot ceiling sold for $2,214 at New Orleans Auction Galleries. More good news, an antique has a better chance than a copy to go up in value.

Q: I was 3 years old in 1937 when I was flower girl in my aunt's wedding. I wore a pale blue dress with pink trim and ivory lace at the neck. The tag inside reads "A Nannette Toddler Shirley Temple Brand" along with a picture of Shirley Temple. I still have the dress. What is it worth?

A: Shirley Temple was 5 when she made her film debut. Her 1930s and '40s retail dresses were designed like her movie costume dresses, in a toddler style even though she wasn't a toddler. They were made by Nannette Manufacturing Co. of New York City, a division of Rosenau Brothers. The basic design was a skirt with soft pleats and contrasting collar. Fabrics were cotton, organdy and dotted Swiss in prints, plaids, checks and embroidery. There wasn't much trimming, maybe a small bow, an appliqued figure or narrow lace edging. A 1936 newspaper advertised Shirley Temple dresses for $1.89 each. Dresses for older little girls were made by Cinderella, also a division of Rosenau. Shirley Temple dresses for sale in online shops are priced $30 to $60.

Q: I have a set of Norman Rockwell prints I received as a premium for subscribing to Reader's Digest in the early 1970s. They depict the four seasons. Each one is signed and numbered 2945. I was wondering if they might be collector's items.

A: You don't say what size the prints are, but they're probably small if they were sent to you as a premium. Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was a hugely popular U.S. artist and illustrator in the middle decades of the 20th century. Respect for his work has grown again in recent years. Large Rockwell prints that were actually autographed by Rockwell sell for high prices. Your set might sell for $25 or so.

Q: I have a little bronze figure of a man wearing a turban and sitting on a donkey facing backward. He's holding the donkey's tail. The donkey is 3 1/2 inches tall and 4 1/2 inches long. I have had this for more than 25 years and nobody knows anything about it. What can you tell me?

A: You have a figure of Nasreddin Hoca (1208-1294), a Turkish philosopher and wise man. "Hoca" is Turkish for "teacher." Nasreddin is a popular folk figure in many countries, especially in the Muslim world, and humorous stories about him have been translated into several languages. He has been called "a master of the negative way." When people told him he was riding his donkey backward, he answered "No, it is not that I am sitting on the donkey backwards, it is the donkey that is facing the wrong way!" UNESCO declared 1996 "Nasreddin Hoca year." Your Nasreddin figure is worth about $25.

Q: I bought a set of Gerber Swiss Bells and it’s still in the original package. There are five plastic bells, each in a different color. It has the original price tag of $1 still attached. When was it made and how much is it worth?

A: Dorothy Gerber (Mrs. Dan Gerber of Gerber Products Co.) wrote about the bells in her popular newspaper column, "Bringing Up Baby," in 1965. But online sources that offer these musical bells for sale claim they are from the 1950s. A set of the bells in good condition but without the packaging recently sold for $20. Another set, in the original package, sold for $25.

Q: I have a ball-shaped, clear glass jar embossed "National Biscuit Company" in capital letters. I'm told it was in my family's restaurant in the early 1940s. The jar, with the lid on, is 11 inches tall. It's a little over 10 inches in diameter at its widest point. Please tell us its approximate age and value.

A: The National Biscuit Co. was founded in East Hanover, N.J., in 1898. We know the company as "Nabisco," which became its corporate name in 1971. It's likely your jar dates from the early post-World War II era. There are other versions of National Biscuit Co. glass jars. Yours sells for $65 to $75.

Tip: If you are remodeling or redecorating, think about antiques and collectibles displayed in the work area. A workman will hammer on a wall without worrying about shelves on the other side.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Disney hooked rug, Mickey Mouse as train engineer, Disney characters, multicolor, 46 x 57 inches, $60.
  • Mettlach stein, No. 2005, 1600s tavern scene, four drinkers, signed "H.D.," 1901, half-liter, $270.
  • Paris porcelain vase, men, rowboats, waves, whale, bears, flowers, gilt highlights, c. 1850, 7 inches, pair, $480.
  • Belt buckle, silver armadillo pattern, overlapping links, Mexico, c. 1953, 4 3/4 inches, $530.
  • Cabinet, Arts & Crafts, oak, two panel doors, carved sides, iron hardware, 49 x 61 inches, $565.
  • Baseball jersey, New York Mets, World Series Champions, autographed, 23 players, 1986, $750.
  • Railroad poster, "Visit Washington, Symbol of Democracy, Pennsylvania Railroad," J. Collins, c. 1950, 46 x 29 inches, $1,250.
  • Toy truck, stake, black, yellow, rubber tires, Buddy L, Junior series, c. 1925, 17 inches, $2,370.
  • Bronze sculpture, hunter with bloodhound, signed "P.J. Mene," 1879, 18 11/16 inches, $3,125.
  • Vienna Porcelain urn, lid, egg shape, woman water carrier and man, indoor domestic scenes, multicolor on cobalt blue ground, gilt, beehive mark, E.L. Hermann, 43 3/4 inches, $11,250.

New! Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2015, 47th edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. It's available now and includes a special bonus section that helps you determine prices if you're downsizing and selling your collectibles and antiques. If you order directly from the Kovels, you'll receive our free xompanion eBook with all of the book's 35,000 prices - ready for downloading to your eReader. "Kovels" is the best book to own if you buy, sell or collect. The large-size paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You'll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks, a report on record prices, and helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available for $27.95 plus $4.95 postage. Purchase directly from the Kovels if you want the eBook Companion. Visit KovelsOnlineStore.com, call 800-303-1996, or write to Price Book, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

This 19th century Dutch walnut secretary with inlay sold for $2,214 at New Orleans Auction Galleries. It is an example of the bargains that are now seen at auctions because of the drop in prices of what the trade calls 'brown furniture.'

Last Updated on Monday, 27 October 2014 17:03
 

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of Oct. 13, 2014

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Written by TERRY AND KIM KOVEL   
Monday, 13 October 2014 12:26

The fiberglass shade is a clue to the age of this lamp by George Nakashima. It was made in 1977 and sold for $6,875 at a Rago Arts auction in Lambertville, N.J.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio - George Nakashima created a special type of modern furniture sometimes called "free-edge." He designed very simple legs and other furniture parts and created the famous tables topped by a slab of wood with original edges that often include the tree's bark. Parts of the top were held together with butterfly joints.

Nakashima was born in 1905, earned an architecture degree by 1929, then an M.I.T. master's degree in 1931. He went to Japan, worked for a famous architect and studied design. In 1937, while in India, he made his first furniture and in 1940 he returned to the United States to make furniture and teach woodworking. In 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was interned like others of Japanese descent. At the camp, he met a traditional Japanese carpenter and learned traditional Japanese ways of working with traditional tools and wood.

Nakashima was released from the camp in 1943 and moved to Pennsylvania, where he designed and made furniture. Some of his designs were used by famous furniture firms like Knoll and Widdicomb. His chairs and tables are well known, but he also designed a few lamps.

A favorite is a lamp made of rings of bent holly and walnut with a fiberglass shade. Each lamp is different, because the base is created from a piece of wood in its natural shape. One of these lamps made in 1977 sold for $6,875 at a 2013 Rago Arts auction. It is 29 inches high, with a small base and a tall cylindrical shade.

Nakashima received numerous awards and was even honored with the Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Emperor of Japan. Nakashima died in 1990 and his daughter Mira Nakashima-Yarnall has continued the business using his designs.

Q: I recently purchased a dessert set of Susie Cooper china. The set includes 10 cups and saucers, cake plates, a sugar bowl and a milk pitcher. It's marked "Susie Cooper, Spiral Fern, C823." What is the set worth?

A: Susie Cooper (1902-1995) was a British ceramics designer whose career started in the 1920s and went on for decades. She opened her own earthenware business in 1929, and added bone china in 1950. Her Spiral Fern pattern, introduced in the 1950s, came in blue or green and was used on her Quail shape. The pattern was reworked and rereleased by Wedgwood in 1987 (Wedgwood acquired Cooper's business in 1966). If you recently purchased your dessert set, you can assume it's worth what you paid. If you're worried you paid too much, we can tell you that a single cup and saucer sells for about $50. The 1950s pattern is not easy to find.

Q: I'd like to know the age and value of a neon Blatz Beer sign. It lights up in orange and red on a black background. The back is marked "Designed and Produced for the G. Heileman Brewing Co. by Embosograph Display Mfg. Co., Chicago, IL 60614." The sign is 15 inches high by 22 inches long by 4 inches deep.

A: Your sign is not neon. The Embosograph Display Manufacturing Co. of Chicago made neon-like signs of plastic backed by fluorescent lighting. Blatz Beer was owned by G. Heileman Brewing Co. from 1969 to 1996. But Embosograph's patents for its "simulated neon sign display" weren't issued until the early 1980s. So your sign is no more than 35 years old. It might sell for $25 or more because it's so large.

Q: I have an old compass that belonged to my late husband. I think he inherited it from his parents. The compass is in a small wooden box with a hinged cover. Stamped on top of the box is "U.S. Engineer Department, W. & L.E. Gurley, Troy, N.Y., 1918." I'd like to know its history and current value.

A: Your compass was made for the U.S. Engineer Department (now the Army Corps of Engineers) during World War I. William Gurley and his brother, Lewis, began working together as W. & L.E. Gurley in 1852. The company made surveyor's compasses, leveling instruments, transits and other precision instruments. It was bought by Teledyne Corp. in 1968, sold again in 1993, and is now doing business as Gurley Precision Instruments. We found a compass like yours online priced at $125.

Q: My late mother-in-law collected antique silver, mostly serving pieces. We inherited a Reed & Barton pitcher with a porcelain lining. It's about 10 inches high. It's marked "Reed & Barton" on the bottom with three patent dates, Aug. 4, 1868; Nov. 17, 1868; and April 6, 1872. After that it says, "Extended 7 years." Is this a true antique? What is it worth?

A: You have a silver-plated ice-water pitcher. According to the patent, the porcelain lining works like a thermos to keep the water cold and prevents condensation of moisture on the outside of the pitcher. The name "Reed & Barton" has been in use since 1840. The company started out as Babbitt & Crossman in Taunton, Mass., in 1824 and has operated under various partnerships and names. It is still in business. Recently a Reed & Barton ice-water pitcher with a ceramic lining sold for $180.

Tip: When replacing lost hardware with matching new pieces, put the new handles on the lowest drawers. The difference in patina will be less visible.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Bottle, soda, cobalt-blue neck and shoulder, stoneware, stamped "JE Ferris," c. 1870, 10 inches, $85.
  • Rug, Baluchi, geometric, diamond medallions, red, brown, green, saffron, fringe, 3 feet 7 inches x 6 feet 7 inches, $205.
  • Coffeepot, pewter, tankard shape, scroll handle, Issac Lewis, Meriden, Conn., c. 1840, 11 1/4 inches, $275.
  • Doll, Joel Ellis, mannequin type, wood, painted, jointed, Springfield, Vt., 1870s, 15 inches, $425.
  • Store sign, 136 Steamship Yacht Supplies, Marine Hardware, Pumps, wood, green and yellow, 42 x 20 inches, $570.
  • Mug, mochaware, brown, orange, blue slip twigs, green, black bands, creamware, England, c. 1820, 3 1/2 inches, $660.
  • Window bench, Edwardian, satinwood, low openwork back, painted, caned seat, 22 1/2 x 36 inches, $815.
  • Candelabrum, five-light, gilt bronze, scroll arms, porcelain base, painted scenes, 22 1/2 inch pair, $1,250.
  • Bible box, pine, carved, black over red paint, stylized leaves, Connecticut, c. 1690, 24 x 17 inches, $8,400.
  • Dinner plate, White House, Abraham Lincoln, Alhambra pattern, scalloped rim, eagle, shield, purple band, Limoges, 9 1/2 inches, $9,200.

Kovels' A Diary: How to Settle a Collector's Estate, our new week-by-week record of the settlement of an estate, from your first days gathering legal papers to the last days when you're dividing antiques among heirs and selling everything else—even the house. How to identify pottery, jewelry and other popular collectibles. Tips on where and how to sell furniture, jewelry, dishes, figurines, record albums, bikes, and even clothes. We include lots of pictures and prices and explain the advantages of a house sale, auction, selling to a dealer, or donating to a charity. Learn about how to handle the special problems of security and theft. Plus a free current supplement with useful websites, auctions lists and other current information. Available only from Kovels for $19.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996; online at Kovels.com; or write to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

The fiberglass shade is a clue to the age of this lamp by George Nakashima. It was made in 1977 and sold for $6,875 at a Rago Arts auction in Lambertville, N.J.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 October 2014 17:01
 

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of Oct. 6, 2014

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Written by TERRY AND KIM KOVEL   
Monday, 06 October 2014 14:57
These small 6-inch-high pink Dada Baby speakers are rare bits of technology made in 1996. The seated baby figures are sound speakers that went for $3,277 at an Absolute Auctions online sale. Only 100 were made and half were lost in a fire.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – What kind of antiques collector are you? Some collectors search for pieces from a past era; some want pieces with a connection to a famous person or event. Many collectors are furnishing a house or apartment and want antiques that are useful and well-priced.

Younger collectors today seek useful things from the '50s era that are colorful, well-designed and in excellent condition. Telephones, electric fans, telephone insulators, large metal and wooden machinery, steel school lockers, and jewelry made from computer parts sell quickly at shows. At a recent Absolute Auctions & Realty online auction, two pink "Dada Babies," figural speakers only 6 inches tall, sold for $3,277.

Their bases are marked "Dada Baby Art by B & W [Bowers & Wilkins], Handmade by Blueroom Loudspeakers." Their modern shape and color may have attracted bidders, but many technology collectors must have wanted these rare speakers. Bowers & Wilkins is an audio-equipment company founded in England in 1966 by John Bowers and Roy Wilkins, who wanted to make better sound speakers. They met an artist who thought music would sound better if played through speakers with rounded, not straight, edges and the company started making speakers in several abstract modern shapes. In 1996 B & W created its Blueroom Dada Babies. The wire for each speaker connected to the figure like an umbilical cord. The seated baby has a head that rotates to send the sound in several directions. Dada Babies originally came in five colors: blue, red, yellow, black or pink. Only a few still exist because half of the 100 speakers made in 1996 were lost in a fire. Examples are occasionally offered online or at live auctions.

We wonder whether the just-purchased "babies" now exhibited on a living room table as works of art. Or are they on a shelf with other unusual well-designed pieces of technology?

Q: I'm trying to learn something about my chest of drawers. It has three drawers with original knobs, a beveled mirror and rolled feet instead of legs. Inside a drawer there's an old emblem with "HL" in the center surrounded by the name "Harris Lebus." The chest is in very good condition. Can you tell me something about the maker?

A: Harris Lebus was a family-run business that became England's largest furniture manufacturer in the 1890s. Louis Lebus, a German immigrant, opened a furniture shop in London in about 1857. Sometime after 1879, when Louis died and his son, Harris, took over the business, the name of the company became Harris Lebus. It made quality furniture inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. During World War I, the company made airplanes, gliders, tent pins and other military equipment. Furniture manufacturing resumed after the war. During World War II, production switched to munitions, and the factory was involved in a top secret government project. Two or three wooden tanks, exact replicas of Sherman tanks, were built. They were meant to be used as decoys to fool German bombers. Harris Lebus became a public company in 1947 and later made inexpensive furniture using particle board and other woods. The company went out of business in 1969.

Q: I have a bronze sculpture of a chubby Greek god sitting on a donkey. The god has a wreath on his head and is carrying an animal pelt. It was acquired by one of my relatives, who said he was the first Allied officer to enter Hitler's quarters at Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps. It came from Hitler's long desk in front of the large window overlooking the front of the building. The sculpture in 10 1/2 inches high and is mounted on marble. What is it worth?

A: Hitler's quarters were bombed by the British and burned by retreating SS troops before Allied troops entered. If you can prove the bronze sculpture came from Hitler's desk, it will be of interest to collectors. Without provenance—a letter from the officer who found the sculpture or some other proof of Hitler's ownership—the value is the same as for any other unsigned bronze sculpture.

Q: I'm clearing out a friend's house, and found an 8-inch-high black figural decanter. The figure is wearing a cloak and wide-brim hat and holding a red torch. The stopper is the top of the hat. The only marking on the bottom is "Wade, England." Can you give me any information about this decanter?

A: Your decanter is called "The Don," made for Sandeman port and sherry. The Don is holding a glass of wine, not a torch, and he's wearing a black cape similar to those worn by Portuguese university students. The image first appeared on posters made for Sandeman by George Massiot Brown in 1928 and has been used in Sandeman ads and on bottle labels for many years. The company claims it was "the very first iconic logo for a wine." Sandeman was founded in London by George Sandeman in 1790 and still is in business. The Wade group of potteries was founded in Staffordshire, England, in 1810. The pottery still is in business, now as Wade Ceramics Ltd. of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. Wade made your decanter in about 1960. Figural decanters of The Don were also made by Royal Doulton and Wedgwood. The value of your decanter is about $15. Bottles by the other more famous makers sell for about $25.

Q: I have an iron doorstop shaped like a stagecoach pulled by two horses. There are two coachmen, one sitting in front holding the reigns and one in the back blowing a horn. It's embossed "GR and London Royal Mail, N17" and "Patent Pending." Can you give my any information about my doorstop?

A: Most old cast-iron doorstops sold today were made from about 1890 to 1930. Many have been reproduced. The design for your coach and horses doorstop was patented by Charles Tuteur of Chicago in July 1930. Value depends on condition. Your doorstop usually sells for about $100 to $200.

Tip: If your stainless-steel knife blades stain in a dishwasher, rinse them, then dry or clean them with silver polish.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Depression glass bowl, Woolworth pattern, stippled grapes, pink, Westmoreland, 6 inches, $5.
  • Match safe, hunters, game, deer head, hunting horn, cast iron, 10 1/2 inches, $95.
  • Club chair, green upholstery, rounded arms, Mayo, 1957, 34 x 28 inches, $200.
  • Toothpick, 14K yellow gold textured case, retractable, 1 3/4 inches, $205.
  • Swastika Keramos vase, green trailing edge, gold ground, white beading, three handles, 7 1/4 inches, $230.
  • Violin, tiger maple, silver, mother-of-pearl, Germany, bow, case, student's, c. 1900, $300.
  • Toy bus, Royal Blue Line Coast to Coast Service, tin lithograph, Chein, 18 inches, $365.
  • Purse, pony hair, deer print, faux tortoiseshell chain-link strap, 11 x 12 inches, $415.
  • Silver claret jug, mounted glass, lion & shield finial, cylindrical, Elkington & Co., England, c. 1890, 11 inches, $875.
  • Chinese export plate, famille rose, millefiori, footed, flared wide border, gilt, 10 inch pair, $1,060.

Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2015, 47th edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. It's available now and includes a special bonus section that helps you determine prices if you're downsizing and selling your collectibles and antiques. If you order directly from the Kovels, you'll receive our free Companion eBook with all of the book's 35,000 prices—ready for downloading to your eReader. The large-size paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You'll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks, a report on record prices, and helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available for $27.95 plus $4.95 postage. Visit KovelsOnlineStore.com , call 800-303-1996, or write to Price Book, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
These small 6-inch-high pink Dada Baby speakers are rare bits of technology made in 1996. The seated baby figures are sound speakers that went for $3,277 at an Absolute Auctions online sale. Only 100 were made and half were lost in a fire.
Last Updated on Monday, 27 October 2014 17:03
 
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