Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Happy New Year!

Wishing you a prosperous 2010. Happy Collecting!

Your friends,

Terry, Kim and all of us at Kovels.com


Kovels News Follow-UpsWhy did the ivory box sell for $410,000? Whats new about President Garfields and Queen Nefertitis heads? Fifty-two Kovels Komments were emailed this year, each with a story based on the news. Ever wonder how the story ended? Here are the ten most interesting stories of 2009, the ones that got the most inquiries from readers asking How much did it sell for? or Then what happened? (The dates of our original stories are listed after each follow-up. Look them up on our website, Kovels.com. Click on "Free Resources" , scroll down to "Weekly Ezine," and select the date). Next week we will give you ten tips to buying smart in 2010.

1. The original bidder for the crypt above Marilyn Monroe's did not pay, so it was offered for sale in another auction in October. It did not get a single bid in that auction. As of November, the crypt still holds the body of Richard Poncher, whose wife was trying to sell the crypt to raise money. (Aug. 19)

2. Eva Zeisel is still designing and working with ceramics. She has even designed her first rug. Zeisel is alive and well at 103 as we write this follow-up. (July 1)

3. Egypt's antiquities chief said in December he will again demand the return of the famous stone bust of Queen Nefertiti. It's in a Berlin museum. This is the latest request for the return of the bust, which was first displayed in Germany in 1924. (May 13)

4. President Garfields head, stolen from his statue last spring, was returned to Hiram College in Ohio in the fall. The college is trying to make sure it won't happen again, but officials are taking precautions just in case it does. Metal rods were installed to hold the head in place, and a GPS device has been embedded in the head. The college also made a cast of the head so if it's stolen again the school can make a copy. And a security camera is trained on the statue at all times. The head was returned to the local police department by a "Good Samaritan" who refused the $1,000 reward but would not explain where the head was found. The grand jury is going to consider charges against a suspect. Hiram, an excellent liberal arts college in northeastern Ohio, has received nationwide publicity because of the theft. The headless statue was photographed by hundreds of visitors and the college even markets a T-shirt with the slogan "Get a Head at Hiram College." (May 20)

5. Amelia Earharts fake hair is still on display at the International Womens Air & Space Museum in Cleveland. The hair has a new label that explains the story of the hair-thread mix-up. (Oct. 21)

6. A moon rock was given as a gift to the Dutch prime minister in 1969. Somehow it became mixed up with a piece of petrified wood on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. No one seems to know how they were switched, but we understand the real moon rock is safely stored in Amsterdam. Last we heard, the petrified wood is still on display at the museum alongside a new label telling about the mix-up. (Nov. 18)

7. The ivory box that sold at a Cleveland auction for $410,000 has been identified. It's a 16th-century Persian jewel box that may have belonged to royalty. The writing on the cover has been translated. It tells of jewels as bright as stars. (Oct. 7)

8. The Abraham Lincoln stamp ("Ice House cover") that sold for $431,000 in June had been stolen in 1967 during the theft of about 250 valuable stamps from the Indianapolis home of J. David Baker (see the June 17 issue of Kovels Komments). We explained who got the proceeds (Baker's heirs) in our June 24 ezine. But there's much more to the story. It has been suggested that the 1967 theft was by someone working for the Chicago mob. In 1974 Boston police stopped the car of a known thief and found some of the stolen stamps. A short time later, a police officer posing as a crook was offered the return of the rest of the collection for $100,000. But the man who made the offer was murdered before a meeting could be set up. Soon after that, the undercover cop received another call from someone eager to sell the stamps. Police arranged a meeting, arrested the man trying to make the sale, and recovered the stamps. But the Ice House cover was not there. Meanwhile, a longtime legitimate collector said he and a friend bought the rights to buy the stamp (whenever it surfaced) from the insurance company that covered the original loss. But when the collector's friend committed suicide in 1995, the collector discovered that his friend was $11 million in debt and had been accused of selling fake collectibles. Now jump ahead several years: In 2006 a Chicago-area couple claimed to have bought the stamp at a flea market 20 years before and then forgot about it. They found out what they had when they took it to a Chicago stamp dealer. There are other Lincoln stamps, but this one is the most valuable because it's still on its original envelope. (Find more information at Starpress.com.).

9. The Bugatti car that was found in a barn when Dr. Harold Carr's heirs cleaned out his many collections sold at Bonham's in February. Presale estimate of the value was about $8.7 million. The Bugatti Type 57S Atalante Coupe, purchased by Dr. Carr in 1955 for $2,520, sold for $4.4 million, much less than expected. (Jan 14)

10. We announced in Kovels Komments on March 19 that our newly designed website was to be launched soon. Like all other website projects, it has taken much more time than we expected. Our new site will be introduced in the next few months.

Happy 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Happy Holidays from us!

This is a 1935 Christmas postcard illustrated by Swedish artist Margit Ekstam.


Quite a weekend--went to a wedding in Washington, D.C., and got snowed in. Most guests missed the rehearsal dinner (so did the bride and groom), but locals and the wedding party got to the wedding the next day. Heard a lot of news. Producers of the "Antiques Roadshow" were excited when, in June, their experts appraised a group of four 18th-century jades for over a million dollars--the highest-priced "find" in the history of the show. But the jades auctioned in October for a total of a little under a half-million dollars. A better ending was at the auction of a very important letter written by George Washington in 1787. Estimated at $2.5 million, it sold this month for $3.2 million.


Steiff Bear
Q: I can remember playing with my adorable 3 1/2-inch-tall Steiff jointed teddy bear since my childhood in the 1960s. My mother thinks she had it as a child. It has a silver Steiff button in his ear. I've been told that the way the tail in the last "F" in the word "Steiff" trails down and back under the printed letters helps date my bear. Can you tell me how old my bear is?

A: The button with the trailing "F" was used by Steiff from 1905 until at least the 1940s. Some old stock buttons were also used from 1950 to 1952. So your bear is at least 57 years old, and possibly older. The Margarete Steiff Toy Co. was founded by Margarete Steiff (1847-1909) in 1880. Its first catalog was published in 1892. The company, established with the help of Margarete's brother Fritz and eventually Fritz's children, was originally devoted to the production of felt toys. In the early 1900s, Margarete's nephew, Richard, an accomplished artist and longtime lover of bears, convinced his aunt to produce a jointed mohair bear he designed. Mohair is the wool from an Angora goat and is a very durable natural fiber that requires little maintenance. Margarete agreed and when the toy was introduced at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1903, the overall reception was mixed; some even ridiculed the toy. The teddy bear, of course, became one of the world's most popular toys.

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Tuileries Palace PlateQ: My mother purchased this 6-inch cobalt plate in the 1950s. She was told it might be from the Tuileries Palace, but I doubt that. Can you tell me how old it is?

A: This is a mark used by Sevres, a French porcelain factory outside of Paris, from 1845 to 1848. The number "47" in the mark indicates your plate was made in 1847. The symbols in the middle of the mark are mirror images of the intertwined letters "P" and "L." Some Sevres pieces made for royalty are marked with a destination mark. The Chateau des Tuileries has its own destination mark. We don't see any indication that it was made for the Tuileries Palace.


You never know what's inside. Antiques may have many small parts, so check all of the tissue paper inside. Only collectors understand how difficult it is to give something to a collector--so admire every gift and be generous with your thank-yous. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


EBay in France was fined $2.55 million for allowing sales of genuine Louis Vuitton perfume on its website. The court had fined the French eBay site in 2008 for not stopping the sale of counterfeit Vuitton products. Part of the agreement made last year called for eBay to stop all Vuitton sales on its French site to prevent the sale of fakes.


Holt HowardWarning! Think before you put Christmas dishes in the dishwasher. I unpacked my Holt-Howard Santa Claus mugs so I could fill them with candy. One looked dusty, so I put it in my new dishwasher on the anti-bacterial cycle--never thinking about the temperature of the water for that cycle. Imagine my horror when Santa came out of the dishwasher with a white face (his flesh had been skin-tone) and almost no red decoration. We have warned collectors for years to be careful about using the dishwasher for fine crystal, gold-decorated china and glass, hollow-handled silver knives and anything with an overglaze decoration. Most Holt-Howard pieces are made with underglaze decorations and can be washed in a dishwasher. Not my Santas. From now on, I will hand-wash all my 1950s-80s collectibles, including my lady head vases, salt and pepper sets, and tiny ceramic rabbits. Take a close look at our "before" and "after" Santa pictures. One more washing cycle and I think Santa will be all white.


A quote we like: "I'm developing a theory that all people who work at antiques stores are friendly and delightful." That's Taylor Swift on Twitter awhile ago. She's the cross-over country singer who keeps winning awards for her work. Wonder what she collects? She was at the Nashville antiques show in November.


A quote we like: "I'm developing a theory that all people who work at antiques stores are friendly and delightful." That's Taylor Swift on Twitter awhile ago. She's the cross-over country singer who keeps winning awards for her work. Wonder what she collects? She was at the Nashville antiques show in November.


Empress Eugenie lamp Q: I bought this lamp at a friend's garage sale for $20. She said it was an Empress Eugenie lamp. I can't find anything about it. Can you help?

A: Oil lamps with figural stem bases were popular from about 1865 to 1880. Most bases were gilded or bronzed, but the finish is often worn off like yours. The figure on your lamp is Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III of France. She was empress consort from the time of their marriage in 1853 until they fled to England at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. The pattern of the glass font is Inverted Teardrop Band, a design patented by John Bridges in 1872. During the 1950s, oil lamp bases and fonts were sometimes used as vases for flower arrangements. The lamps sell for about $150-$200 in worn condition.


Horse Vehicle LicenseQ: I have this nickel-plated brass piece shaped like the number 2. I think it is a 1912 license for a one-horse vehicle. I would like to know more about this piece. Can you tell me why it is shaped like a "2" and who made it?

A: This is a Springfield, Ohio, license plate for a horse-drawn vehicle. For several years, plates in Springfield and some other cities were shaped like the last digit of the year, so your 1912 plate is shaped like a "2." The 1910 plate is an "X" shape, representing the Roman numeral for 10. It was made by Hiss Stamping Co. of Columbus, Ohio. The plate was displayed on the vehicle. License plates are technically "registration" plates, since they indicate that the vehicle is registered and the tax paid, not that the driver has a license. Massachusetts became the first state to require vehicle registration in 1903, when automobiles became popular and money was needed to maintain the roads.


Use your vintage linens for the holidays even if you must use your ironing board to get them into shape. (Remember the days before "permanent press"?) Use printed holiday tablecloths and cocktail napkins, even aprons with Christmas patterns. Then get out some vintage toys and candlesticks to use as centerpieces.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Dick Clark DollI'm just back from the Art Basel and Design Miami shows in Miami Beach. It's probably the largest art show in the world. As always, I looked for trends and the use of antiques in modern art. Seen at the show: a 3-foot-high modern "memory jar" decorated with antique plates, figurines, broken platters and small dolls. Also seen: an antique lacy carved chair from India with a red plastic "leather" seat topped by a neon "stop" sign. Droog, a Dutch design firm that likes to alter old things, offered a wooden kitchen chair from about 1910 that's covered with fuzzy white paint and light blue floral designs. Prices were high for everything. Each of the things I've mentioned must have cost over $10,000.

Modern Japanese basketry vases were selling for up to $30,000. By comparison, antique Japanese baskets are bargains.


Sun-Maid GirlFirst a younger Betty Crocker and Aunt Jemima and a slimmer Big Boy were created to update those advertising icons. Now a well-endowed, Barbie-faced Sun-Maid girl is representing her raisin company in TV and print ads. (She's still the 1970s version on Sun-Maid raisin boxes.) At 95 years old, her new look suggests she has seen a plastic surgeon. At least she still wears a bonnet--but her old one looked more comfortable.


Dick Clark DollQ: I have a Dick Clark autograph doll in the original box. Is it worth anything?

A: Dick Clark was the host of the popular syndicated television show American Bandstand from 1957 to 1989. Teenagers were invited to come on the show to dance to recordings of the latest popular music. Your doll was probably made c.1958. Dick Clark autograph dolls were made in two sizes, 25 and 45 inches. Autograph dolls and stuffed animals were popular in the 1950s and later. Children had their friends sign them. The lid of the box shows both Dick Clark and a group of youngsters autographing the doll’s jacket. The small doll with the box is worth about $400. The larger one is worth about $250.


Fake British Royal coat of arms Q: Can you identify this mark? It is on the bottom of a 4 1/4-inch flow blue ironstone pot.

A: This is a fake British Royal coat of arms mark. Manufacturers in England, the United States, and other countries used fake coat of arms marks to make their pottery seem older or more valuable. This "Victoria" mark was used on many new pieces of ironstone about twenty years ago. One clue to the fake: the mark is much too large for a small pot base.


You can update your old set of tiny 1930s painted metal figures that make Christmas scenes on a tabletop or mantel. The original figures by Barclay were dressed in 19th-century costumes. In the 1940s, more figures were made in contemporary costumes. These figures have been made again this year using the 1940s molds. It's easy to spot the repros if you are a collector of old ones. The new figures are solid; originals were hollow.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Money Bartender
A first edition of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" auctioned for $170,569 at Christie's in London. The rare book was noticed by the owner's son-in-law when he happened to examine the books in the guest bathroom. The family said the book was bought 40 years ago for less than $1. About 1,250 copies of the book were printed in 1859.


Perfume Bottle
Q: I picked up this unusual item at a local estate sale. It's made of heavy satin glass and is in the shape of a bird's head. It has a screw-off cap on one end. The person I bought it from thought it might be a perfume bottle, but someone else told me he thought it was a Prohibition-era woman's hip flask. It is about 8 1/2 inches long. Any idea exactly what it is and what it might be worth?

A: You made a lucky find! This is a swan's-head laydown perfume bottle made by Webb c.1884. Thomas Webb was a glassmaker who began working in 1829 and founded his own glassworks in Amblecote, England, in 1840. Production ended by 1991 and the factory was demolished in 1995. Your perfume bottle is probably worth $6,000-$10,000.


Two of Galileo's fingers, cut from his hand 300 years ago, were just rediscovered when the sealed glass jar they were stored in sold at auction. Three fingers were cut from Galileo's hand in 1737, when his body was moved to its final resting place (Galileo died in 1642). It was not uncommon at the time to cut body parts from saints to keep as relics--and Galileo was considered a sort of secular saint. At some point two of the fingers and one of Galileo's teeth were stored in the jar, which disappeared in about 1905. The person who bought the jar at auction took it to experts at the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy. Experts there confirmed the authenticity of the jar and its contents. The fingers will be displayed at the museum with the third finger, which the museum already possessed.


Remember Carnaby Street? It was the center of London's fashion world in the 1960s. Long hair and mod clothes for men were "in." The extreme clothing featured bright colors and op-art designs. Men wore drainpipe (skinny) jeans, pointed-toe shoes, and mod suits with narrow lapels. Today the English lad in his 20s seems to be at it again. London's Financial Times pictures the latest Dickensian styles--men with upswept hair, beard and mustache, and wrinkled clothing. They're wearing waistcoats (vests), huge black overcoats, large bowties, shirts with Peter Pan collars, even torn sweaters. The most likely of these fashions to be popular outside of London are the accessories: walking sticks, watch chains with watch and fob, and key chains with charms dangling from a pants pocket. And, of course, old-fashioned tortoiseshell spectacles.


Thanksgiving is behind us, but we continue to thank you for making Kovels what it is today. Those of you who use Kovels.com belong to a community of over a million collectors. And now you can look forward to the unveiling of our new website! It's coming soon and will offer features YOU have been asking for: an events calendar where you can list your own events for FREE, forums you can enter FREE to talk about your favorite collectibles, the ability to comment on every article and to read the comments of others, and easier searches. On top of all that, you will be able to access (by signing up for a premium-plus subscription) more than 8,500 pottery and porcelain marks.

We trust that Kovels.com is helping you save more, spend less, and live a richer collecting life. We're listening to you--so please let us know how we're doing and what else we can do to make your collecting more fun and profitable.

To show our appreciation, you will receive 15% off any purchases you make at Kovels.com's store through Friday, December 4, 2009. Mention the code "Kovels" during checkout.


John Moses Brunswick
Q: I bought this pool table from a friend about 30 years ago. I also have the original balls, ball racks, counters, and shelf storage for cue sticks and balls. Can you tell me how old it is and what it is worth?

A: The company that made your pool table was founded by John Moses Brunswick. It started out as the Cincinnati Carriage Making Co. The company began making billiard tables in 1845. It merged with Julius Balke's Great Western Billiard Table Manufactory in 1873 and the name was changed to The J.M. Brunswick and Balke Co. After another merger in 1884, it became The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co. and was the world's largest billiard table manufacturer. A table similar to yours was made by Brunswick-Balke-Collender from 1913 to 1915, but it did not have metal corners. The company name was changed to Brunswick Corp. in 1960. It's still in business, with headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois. The company's website, http://www.brunswickbilliards.com/, pictures many of its antique tables. The company might be able to help you date your table.


Remember to wear your vintage Christmas pins.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Michael Jackson's GloveMichael Jackson's famous white glove auctioned for $420,000 (price, premium, and tax) on November 21. The left-hand leather and rhinestone-studded glove is from his 1983 moonwalk dance at Motown's 25th anniversary TV special. It was bought by the owners of Ponte 16, a gambling casino in Macau. They plan to open a shrine to Jackson in the casino's lobby. Nine other Jackson items from the auction, including the Zombie shirt Jackson wore in the "Thriller" video, will be enshrined at the casino. The auction, by Julien's Auctions of Los Angeles, brought in more than $2 million.


Beer BottleA bottle of Lowenbrau beer that survived the fire and wreck of the Hindenburg zeppelin in May 1937 auctioned in England on November 14 for $16,000. It may be the most expensive beer bottle ever auctioned. The previous beer bottle record we're aware of is for a limited edition Carlsberg lager bottle. The Lowenbrau bottle, still full, has a scorched label with the brand's logo. The bottle was found by the local fire chief after the crash in Lakehurst, New Jersey. He buried six bottles and a pitcher at the site and came back later to recover his "treasure." He gave all but one of the bottles to friends. One bottle was donated to the Lowenbrau brewery collection in 1977. The others are missing.


EBay users faced a big problem all day long last Saturday. The auction site's "search" function wasn't working, so shoppers looking for particular items either faced a blank page or a message that said they should "try again" later. EBay had fixed the problem by Sunday and is planning to compensate sellers.


Money BartenderQ: I have a windup toy monkey bartender that was in my uncle's bar when I was a kid. It stands 7 1/2 inches high. Any idea of its value?

A: The monkey bartender was made by Nomura, one of the largest toy manufacturers in Japan after World War II. The company made tin toys in the 1950s and '60s and die-cast toys in the 1970s. It is known for its robots and space toys, which include Robby the Robot, made in 1957. The company, originally called Toys Nomura, was later known as Nomura Toy. A diamond-shape logo with the initials T.N inside can be found on many of the original boxes for Nomura's tin toys. Your monkey bartender is not in very good shape. The monkey originally had plush fur, which seems to have completely worn off of yours. A monkey bartender in good condition with the original box is worth about $60.


Money William ButcherQ: I have a wooden block plane I think is from the 1840s-1890s. It is marked "W. Butcher." I would like to know something about the maker and the age of this plane.

A: The William Butcher Co. and its successors were in business in Sheffield, England, from about 1821 until the 1900s. The company operated under the name William Butcher Co. from 1821 until about 1828, so your plane was probably made during that period. The number in the mark may be the model number. William Butcher (1791-1870) and his brother, Samuel, were cutlers who made a variety of steel-edge tools, including chisels, files, hammers, hoes, planes, and saws. Samuel was the New York agent for the firm. William and Samuel also made Bowie knives in the 1850s and '60s. Butcher opened a steel works in Pennsylvania in 1867 and made steel castings there. Samuel died in 1869 and William died in 1870. Your plane would probably sell for less than $15.


Keep an eye out for stains on your vintage linens at Thanksgiving dinner. Here are three suggestions for removing cranberry sauce stains. Immediately scoop up the spilled sauce and wash the linens as soon as possible with detergent and very hot water. (If you're using a modern tablecloth, read the directions about hot water.) Another solution is to scoop, rinse with cold water, pre-treat the stain with a commercial stain removal product, then wash. Here's one more suggestion--a very old one: Scoop, rinse with cold water, then soak the stain in a mixture of a tablespoon of white vinegar, a half-teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent, and a quart of cold water. Rinse. If the fabric is still pink, wipe the stain with rubbing alcohol and rinse again. If all else fails, wash your tablecloth using bleach (if bleach is safe for your tablecloth).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Moon Rock Watch out for fakes. Even museums are fooled. The famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has a "moon rock" that isn't from the moon. The U.S. ambassador had given the rock to the Dutch prime minister when the Apollo 11 astronauts visited the Netherlands in 1969. The former ambassador says he got it from the U.S. State Department and thought it was authentic. When the museum was given the rock in 1988, officials there called NASA and were told that the rock could be real. Now we know it's just a piece of petrified wood. It will stay on display as a "curiosity."


The Rookwood Pottery factory in Cincinnati, fully restored, will host the art pottery auctions that have previously been held at Cincinnati Art Galleries. The art gallery will focus on paintings from now on, so the pottery offered to run the twice-yearly art pottery auctions.


Maytag just traded a brand new washer and dryer for a 52-year-old pink washer and dryer owned by Jane Thompson of Sand Springs, Oklahoma. The latch broke on Jane's dryer, so it needed its first repair. The old machines will go in the Maytag museum. Jane says she wants her pink machines back if the new ones don't work as well as the old ones.


StaffordshireQ: I have a Staffordshire statue of Charles Wesley standing in a pulpit. It belonged to my grandmother. Is it valuable?

A: The figure in your Staffordshire piece is probably John Wesley (1703-1791), not his brother, Charles (1707-1788). Both men were ordained in the Church of England. John is considered by many to be the founder of the Methodist church, although the church was not actually formed until after his death. Charles is best-known for the thousands of hymns he wrote. Several potters made different figurines of John Wesley in the late 1800s. There are even different versions of your figurine. The pulpit may be a different shape, the cherubim in a different place, and the hands on the clock in a different position. Value of your figurine: $300-$400.


Eagle mark Q: I bought a silver tray at a house. This is one of the marks on it. Can you tell me anything about it?

A: This eagle mark is a standard mark used by the city of Lisbon, Portugal, from 1938 until 1985. The number "916" indicates the fineness of the silver, the standard for sterling silver in Portugal at that time. Silver is alloyed with another metal, usually copper, to give it strength; the number indicates the percentage of silver (916 parts per 1,000). The standard is different in different countries. This mark was used on large pieces of silver. Smaller pieces were marked with the head of a rooster and the fineness number.


Never put hot glass in cold water or cold glass in hot water. The temperature change can crack the glass. A friend once molded Jell-O in a cut glass bowl, kept in the refrigerator, served it, then put the bowl into hot water in the sink. Her stomach sunk when she heard the bowl crack.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


A national magazine has asked us to find some examples of haunted furniture--perhaps a clock that chimes at unexpected times or a sofa that creaks? Tell us your story, what's happening, and why you think your piece of furniture is haunted. Also include a description and history of the piece. Send all the information, along with your name, state, email address and phone number to Terry at feedback@kovels.com. We will send everything on to the national women's lifestyle magazine. Your story may be included in an article.


Madeleine AlbrightBrooches (pins) are back in style. Madeleine Albright may have started it when she became U.S. Secretary of State in 1997 and became known for wearing large brooches. Some of her pins are patriotic (like her c.1940 Trifari American eagle and Uncle Sam top hat shown here) and others had special significance related to her diplomatic missions. Secretary Albright's brooches are so well-known that the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City has mounted an exhibit of 200 of her pins. The exhibit runs until January 31, 2010.

The oversized "boyfriend" jacket with classic tailoring and wide shoulders is perfect for a large, showy brooch. Antique brooches are being copied today.


An Arizona family owned a half-inch jeweled miniature portrait one member of the family purchased in 1951. It appeared valuable because of its jewels and the quality of the painting, so last summer the family had it appraised. It turned out to be an 18th-century portrait of Russian Czar Peter the Great. It sold at Sotheby's for $1.3 million.


Brandeis University will not sell the artwork given by three donors who sued to prevent the sale. What will happen next to the Rose Art Museum that Brandeis wants to close?


Patriotic CoverletQ: I have a coverlet that has been in the family since the early 1900s. It was given to my grandparents by an English woman in India as "something of great value" that had been around the world seven times. Supposedly it had come from an estate auction in Europe. What can you tell me about this coverlet? Is it very valuable?

A: There are 125 known examples of coverlets with this "Agriculture & Manufactures" design, according to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Many were made between 1824 and 1827 to commemorate General Lafayette's visit to the United States in 1824-25. Several variations have been found. Most have borders on the sides and bottom and two corner blocks on the bottom. Symbols woven into the coverlet include Independence Hall, soldiers, eagles, laurel leaves, deer, monkeys, and Masonic columns, squares and compasses. Lafayette, who was a Mason, received several degrees in the Scottish Rite during his visit. The design was used on single-width, double-panel, and tied Beiderwand coverlets. The most common colors are blue and natural. The name of the weaver is not known, but it is thought that at least two weavers in New York State made coverlets with this design. The name "Phebe Leach" woven into your coverlet is probably the name of the original owner. Expensive coverlets usually sell for about $500, but yours is so rare it might go for more.


Old Hall Excelsior PlateQ: Can you tell from the marks on my plate who made it and how old it is?
A: Your plate was made by Old Hall Earthenware Co. of Hanley, Staffordshire, England. The company was in business under that name from 1861 to 1886. The marks on the bottom of your plate include the pattern name, Excelsior, and an English registry mark, which indicates the design of your dish was registered on January 8, 1880. The asymmetrical Japanese-inspired design would have been popular in the 1880s. A plate in this pattern is valued at $15 to $20.


If you need to store a painting, push it under a bed. The location is dark and provides good air circulation. And it's best to store paintings horizontally, not vertically.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Mahmoud Mokhtar A 1931 garden statue estimated at $12,000 to $18,000 auctioned for an unexpected $118,000 this week. The 4-foot-tall bronze statue with a green patina was in the garden when a lucky man bought a home and its contents about 40 years ago. The owner was offered $3,000 for the statue a few years ago but kept it until last week's auction. The statue was made in Paris by Egyptian sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar (1891-1934). Cleveland Auction Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, sold the piece, which set an auction record for the artist's bronzes.


Russell Pritchard III, who gained TV fame on the Antiques Roadshow with the appraisal of a valuable sword that the "owner" claimed to use to cut watermelons, is in the news again. He used the TV publicity to enhance his reputation, then cheated his clients while appraising or selling their antiques. He was serving a 4-to-8-year sentence in prison when he had to appear in court in October in a new case. Following a plea bargain, he was sentenced to 4 to 8 more years for yet more crimes, the extra years to be served concurrently with his earlier sentence. But the plea bargain means he also has to repay over $65,000 to his latest victims.


A record crowd attended the Halloween sale at Stevens Auction Co. in Aberdeen, Miss. The vampire kit we mentioned last week sold for $8,800. John Stevens told us the auction business is doing well again.


Q: I have this 13-inch toy tram truck that my folks brought me from the World's Fair in Chicago back in 1933. I doubt it would be in collector's condition because I pushed this a million miles and have worn out the tires, and the paint is in a poor state. Can you give me an estimate of what it is worth?

A: Greyhound was the official transportation carrier of the1933 Century of Progress World's Fair. It provided sightseeing tours of the grounds as well as transportation from stops outside the grounds. Your toy is a replica of one of the sightseeing buses. It was made by Arcade Manufacturing of Freeport, Illinois, in 1933. Arcade was incorporated in 1885 and made hinges, coffee mills, and other products in the early years. The company made banks beginning in 1908, but toys were not a big part its production until after 1920. Your toy bus was made in several sizes and is one of the few toys Arcade copyrighted. Arcade was bought by Rockwell Manufacturing Co. in 1945. Because of its poor condition, your bus is worth only $500. A bus in excellent condition could cost over $1,500.


Alva Vanderbilt BelmontQ: My mother bought this plate in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1961. Taped to the back is a piece of paper with my mother's handwriting which says, "Made for a lawn tea party given by O.H.P Belmont at Marble House, Newport, RI, in 1910." It has a lion and banner mark with the words "John Maddock & Sons, England" on the back. The plate is 6 inches wide. Is it valuable?

A: Alva Vanderbilt Belmont (1853-1933) was the widow of O.H.P. Belmont. After her first marriage, to the wealthy William Vanderbilt, ended in divorce, she married the even wealthier O.H.P. Belmont. After his death in 1908, she became active in the women's suffrage movement. She had the "Votes for Women" china made by John Maddock & Sons for a party in support of women's suffrage held at her Newport "cottage," Marble House, in 1909. Luncheon plates, salad plates, soup bowls, and cups and saucers were made. The dishes were also used at a tea party held at the mansion in July 1914. Both events raised money to support the suffrage movement and guests received pieces of the china as favors. The Newport Preservation Society sells reproductions of Votes for Women china. Reproductions have been made by five different manufacturers since the 1960s. The mark on your plate indicates it is one of the original pieces and was made c.1896 or later. An original plate like yours is worth about $800-$1,000. Reproduction plates sell for $20 or less.


When you quit smoking, keep your tobacciana collectibles. Tobacco stands without the top parts are good plant stands. Cigarette cases are popular as small purses that will hold a credit card, driver's license and a little money. Tobacco tins and boxes are interesting storage containers, and the box labels and cigar bands work well for decoupage projects. Best of all, ashtrays can be used to hold short stemmed flowers or kept in the bedroom to hold earrings and rings overnight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Vampire Killing KitVampires on TV today are lovable, not dangerous, so there seems to be no need for vampire-killing kits. Killing kits were needed when people were threatened by vampires. Kits have been sold at five or more auctions over the last several years. Each kit was assembled, so the contents varied. Prices ranged from $1,000 on eBay years ago, to $12,000 and $20,300 in 2003, to a claimed $35,000 asking price for a kit eBay wouldn't allow. Last year a kit in an American walnut case sold for $14,850. It held stakes, mirrors, a gun with silver bullets, crosses, a Bible, holy water, candles, and garlic.

This Saturday, October 31, 2009, another kit will be auctioned. It's in a rosewood case with mother-of-pearl inlay in the shape of a cross. The required pistol and silver bullets are in a small coffin-shaped case. There are also holy water vials, a prayer book, a cleaver, and a mirror. Wonder how these things protect you from vampires? Hold a mirror in front of a person and if there is no reflection, that person is a vampire. Religious items, garlic, and candle flames scare vampires and chase them away. Silver bullets or a stake through the heart kills vampires. Most vampire kits probably were made after 1897, when the novel "Dracula" was published and made people fear vampires. The kits were made as souvenirs sold at hotels in Europe. Will the kit offered this Saturday at Stevens Auction Co. in Aberdeen, Mississippi, set a new record price? We'll let you know next week.


Do not buy old coins without knowing the dealer or source. Coin World newspaper reports that over a million counterfeit coins made in China in recent years have sold as rarities at high prices. It is not illegal to make a fake U.S. coin in China, but U.S. law requires that the word "copy" be stamped on the coin. The rule has been ignored. Gold and lesser coins are being made.


RS Prussia chocolate setQ: Can you tell me something about this RS Prussia tea set with 4 cups? Is it valuable?

A: You have an RS Prussia chocolate set. A chocolate pot is taller than a teapot. Porcelain marked RS Prussia was made by Reinhold Schlegelmilch, who founded a porcelain works in Suhl, Germany, in 1869. Much of the porcelain imported into the United States from Germany in the late 1800s and early 1900s was made by Schlegelmilch. The distinctive handle on your chocolate pot and cups indicate that the shape is mold 501. That shape was first sold in the U.S. c.1900-1904. Decorations on RS Prussia did not have pattern names. The floral patterns on most RS Prussia seemed out-of-date by 1910, and the volume of imports declined. Value of your chocolate set: $350.

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Porcelain Factory ArzbergQ: I inherited a candy dish from my grandmother. This mark is on the bottom along with the words "24 Karat Encrusted Gold Platinum" in a circle. Can you tell me the maker and how old it is?

A: Your candy dish was made by Porcelain Factory Arzberg, which was founded in 1927 in Arzberg, Bavaria (West Germany after World War II). A porcelain factory operated on that site under various names and with different owners beginning c.1890. Arzberg porcelain is still being made under the name Arzberg-Porzellan GmbH, but the factory is now located in Schirnding, Germany. The romantic scene in the center of the dish and the 24K gold mark indicate it was probably made in the 1930s.


If you plan to use a modern pottery vase for flowers, first put the vase in the sink, fill it with water to the top, then put it on a dry countertop. An hour later, see if the sink top is wet. Pottery often leaks either through a tiny hole or just because the clay was not fired at a high-enough temperature. A leaking vase can leave a white mark or worse on a wooden tabletop.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


GOOD: A lock of Elvis Presley's hair auctioned for $18,600 at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago this week. It was cut in 1958 when he went into the Army. Presley's hair has been auctioned before. In 2002 a large bottle of his hair sold for $115,120. In 2003 a smaller bottle sold for $33,657. In 2008 a quarter of the contents of the small bottle sold for $16,800. Anyone know what is happening with other auctioned clumps of hair? We have written about sales of hair that belonged to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Napoleon, Marilyn Monroe, and others. One collector says he has hair from over 200 famous figures.

BAD: Perhaps because of the publicity surrounding the Amelia Earhart movie coming out on Friday, the International Women's Air and Space Museum in Cleveland tested a clump of Earhart's hair that the Smithsonian Institution gave to the museum 20 years ago. A White House maid is said to have retrieved the clump of hair from a wastebasket when Earhart visited the president right before her fatal flight in 1937. The test results came back. Oops. The clump wasn't even hair at all. It was strands of thread. The "hair" thread will stay on display at the museum with a new description and history.


Leonardo da Vinci painting
An "undiscovered" Leonardo da Vinci painting that could be worth over $150 million has been authenticated thanks to modern technology and the talent of a London art dealer. The portrait was bought for about $19,000 from Christie's in the 1990s, then by Peter Silverman in 2007 for about the same price. Silverman researched the painting and in 2009 sent it to Paris to be tested by new technology that could take images of layers of paint. Experts found a partial handprint and fingerprint and matched them to prints on some known da Vinci paintings. The portrait was definitely by da Vinci. The painting is on vellum (animal skin) and historians think it was made to be the cover of a book. The now famous and very valuable portrait of "La Bella Principessa" will be on display in Gothenburg, Sweden, in March.


STICKLEY QUAINT CHAIRSQ: My neighbor died recently and after her children cleaned out her house, they told us we could have whatever was left. We found these two Stickley chairs covered up with an old tarp at the back of the barn. Are they valuable? The metal tag says "Quaint Furniture, Grand Rapids."

A: Five Stickley brothers made furniture, Gustav, Albert, Charles, John George, and Leopold. Gustav is the most famous and his furniture brings the highest prices. Albert and John George established Stickley Brothers Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1891. Their Quaint Line of furniture was introduced in 1902. Quaint Mission was made first. In 1904 Quaint Arts & Crafts was made and in 1914 Quaint Tudor and Quaint Manor were made. In the 1920s Quaint American and Quaint Colonial were made. John George left the firm in 1902 and Albert retired in 1927. The company was in business until about 1947. The furniture was marked with a paper label or a brass tag like yours. The seat covering on your chair looks like a replacement. The chairs, as is, are worth about $175 each.


Edward Brothers
Q: This platter has supposedly been in our family for several generations and has been passed down to the oldest daughter. It has this mark on the back. The words "Victory" and "Rd 18958" are impressed in one corner of the back of the platter. When was this made?

A: The two Rd numbers are English registry marks and help to date your platter. The printed number indicates the design was registered in 1885. The impressed number indicates the year 1888. It may be the year the shape was registered, and Victory is probably the name of the shape. Not much is known about Edwards Bros. Several potters named Edwards worked in Fenton in the late nineteenth century, but there is no listing of brothers. Unidentified dishes like yours sell for very little, perhaps $10 to $15.


Dating some Barbie dolls made in 2009 and 2010 will be easy. Three special-edition Barbies with thinner ankles will be sold starting in December. They and their fashions and shoes are being created by designer Christian Louboutin. He said Barbie's ankles had to be thinner so high-style modern shoes will stay on her feet. The dolls will cost $150 each and will come with four pairs of Louboutin shoes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The clear bright green stone that looks much like an emerald (and is a modern favorite at Tiffany's) is called "tsavorite." It was discovered in 1967 by the Scottish geologist Campbell Bridges, who mined for rare gemstones in Kenya. Campbell was murdered near his mine in August by a mob armed with arrows, spears, and machetes. The motive may have been a dispute over mining rights. Six men have been arrested so far.


Fake artifacts aren't all bad. For years, a trip to Mexico or Egypt included a chance for a tourist to buy old pottery pieces that were sold as antiquities. Some were genuine, stolen from graves and other sites. Some were modern copies of the old. These relics, old or new, were sold to middlemen who sold them to tourists. Now forgers are using eBay to sell fakes at better prices than they can get for the real thing. The result is that buyers have to deal with more fraud, but there is less unauthorized digging for antiquities at archaeological sites. Even experts admit that it is getting more difficult to identify fakes without looking in person at the actual objects. (based on an article by Thomas Claburn in Information Week)


Roy Rogers LampHow long do movie or TV stars remain popular after they die? Collectors buy memories of their childhood, and stars like Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, are probably unknown to those born after 1960. The pair were huge stars in over 100 cowboy movies made between 1935 and 1959 and starred in The Roy Rogers Show on television from 1951 to 1957. But interest in the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri, has declined and it is closing. Collectors who want Rogers-Evans memorabilia can find gun and holster sets, lunch boxes, play sets, books, comics, Halloween costumes and, of course, figurines of Roy's horse, Trigger. The Roy Rogers lamp pictured features a Hartland figurine of Roy riding Trigger. The lamp sold last week for $410 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennsylvania. Prices for Rogers-Evans collectibles will probably go down without ongoing publicity.


Champion Trading CardsQ: When we replaced our old kitchen cupboards, we found an old unopened box of Wheaties. There are several sports cards on the box. Are these cards or the box itself worth anything? How old do you think the box is?

A: Wheaties issued this series of "Champion Trading Cards" in 1952. It pictures famous sports figures from the 1950s. There were 60 cards in the set, which included both portrait and action pictures of 30 different athletes. Ten of those pictured were baseball players, while the rest were from other sports. The cards had to be cut out of the back of the cereal box, making it hard to find cards in perfect condition today. The uncut box is more valuable than the same cards cut out. Cards that are cut out often sell for about $10-$15 unless they were carefully cut and picture a popular athlete. A card picturing Ted Williams can sell for as much as $100 if in perfect condition. Groups of 30 cards, half a set, have auctioned for $100 to $240. Depending on the players whose cards are on your box, the box could sell for $100 or more. (Collectors would be especially interested in your box because the 20 baseball cards in the set were counterfeited in 2002.)


Meissen porcelain
Q: I have a Meissen vase with this crossed swords mark with a dot between the swords. Isn't this the mark used by Marcolini?

A: Porcelain has been made in Meissen, a town in Germany, since 1710. Any china made in the town can be called Meissen, but the Royal Porcelain Manufactory is the most famous pottery that operated there. The factory used several variations of the crossed swords mark, and the mark has been copied by many other companies in Germany and other parts of the world. From 1732 to 1773, Meissen used a mark with a dot between the handles of the swords. From 1774 to 1814, when Count Camillo Marcolini was director of the company, Meissen porcelain was marked with a star or asterisk between the handles of the crossed swords. The mark like yours, with a dot between the blades of the swords, was used from 1924 to 1934.


Home movies are important historic documents that will disappear without proper care. Store the films in a cool, dry place--a bedroom closet, perhaps, but not the attic or basement. Keep them in boxes or canisters. Label them. Do not repair them with tape. Only play them on the proper projectors. Copy them to DVDs or cassettes to watch them, but keep the original films.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


19th-century Persian Box

A dream came true for two people selling things at online auctions this week. A man who regularly travels to Europe often buys antiques and later sells his finds at Aspire Auctions of Cleveland. He recently brought in an ivory box etched with wavy patterns of gold and niello (a black alloy), set with turquoise and a cabochon ruby on the top and another ruby on the inside cover. It was listed as mid-19th-century Persian and estimated at $700 to $900. The bidding was all by computer or phone, so it was a huge surprise when the box sold for $410,025 (plus premium, for a total of $471,529). We talked to Cynthia Colling of Aspire who said the bidding ended as a war between two European bidders. It opened at $250 and moved quickly to over $5,000. Then there were a series of bids jumping by $100 or so each time. At $60,025 there were two bidders and the bid jumped to $160,000. Six bids later, with less than one minute to go, the bid was $410,000. But an automatic bid came in 44 seconds later to win at $410,025. The seller made the right choice, to sell online to an international audience.
Cynthia said they are translating the foreign writing on the box. It is thought that it belonged to royalty and was used to hold jewels. The new owner didn't say what made this box such a treasure.
The second winner was a woman who brought an 18th-century oil painting of the Venice Grand Canal to be auctioned at nearby Sloans & Kenyon in Chevy Chase, Md. It was unsigned but from the school of Canaletto and was priced a modest $6,000 to $8,000. The owner said her family owned it since her grandmother bought it on a European trip about 1881. The lucky seller must have been surprised when the painting sold to a European buyer for $687,125.


My Dolly's Kitchen Series
Q: Can you tell me anything about Brimtoy or "My Dolly's" dollhouse furniture? My friend has "My Dolly's Combination Kitchen Set No. 277" in its original box. There are many small accessories, including a broom, dustpan, frying pans, etc. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

A: My Dolly's Kitchen Series was made by Wells Brimtoy c.1955. Brimtoy and Wells started out as two separate toy companies in London in the early twentieth century. Brimtoy was originally a brand name used by British Metal and Toy Manufacturers Ltd. beginning in 1914. The company name was changed to Brimtoy Ltd. in 1923. The company made tin cars, trucks, airplanes, trains, and other vehicles. A. Wells & Co. Ltd., founded in 1919, made lithographed tin vehicles and other toys. The two companies combined to become Wells Brimtoy in 1932 and continued in business under that name until 1970. Wells Brimtoy's kitchen furniture was made of painted tinplate. Some pieces in the series were sold separately, as well as in a set like yours. Your kitchen set may be worth $100-$125 with the original box.


Shanghai pattern
Q: I have a piece of blue and white pottery with this diamond-shaped mark on the bottom. I found it during an archeological excavation. I haven't been able to identify the maker. Can you help?

A: The mark with "W" in a diamond was used by W. & E. Corn c.1900. "Shanghai" is the pattern name. Edward Corn founded a pottery at Burslem, Staffordshire, England, in 1850. His sons, William and Edward, took over the pottery c.1864. William died in 1885. The pottery moved to Longport in 1890. After Edward's death in 1891, his sons Alfred and Edmund took over the pottery. The pottery continued to operate as E. & E. Corn until 1904.


There is more interest in vintage men's clothing because of the popular TV show, "Mad Men," which shows accurate clothing and rooms from the 1960s. Many of the old styles, like shirts made for cuff links, are back in style.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Anglo-Saxon gold
A jobless man on welfare found one of the most important treasures of the century, according to British archaeologists. Over 1,500 pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver work from the seventh century were found in a farmer's field. (The Anglo-Saxons ruled England from the 400s to 1066, when the Normans invaded.) The treasure hunter earned his luck by using a metal detector for 18 years before he made this discovery. The treasure included gold and silver sword fittings, crosses, dagger hilts, and parts of swords and helmets worth at least $1.6 million. The treasure belongs to the government, which will sell it to museums. The money will be shared; half to the farmer who owned the land, half to the finder.

Hunters with metal detectors and bottle diggers may damage historic sites, so they are scorned by archaeologists in the U.S.A. There are trespassing and other laws to prevent them from searching. Perhaps there should be a way to legalize what they do and to pay them for what they find so museums get the artifacts, finders get the money, and there is less damage and theft at sites that should be studied (see last week's ezine).


cast iron sailor doorstop Q: I bought this cast-iron sailor doorstop recently and have been trying to find out something about him. He is 13 3/4 inches tall. Can you tell me the maker or when it was made?

A: Different versions of sailor doorstops have been made, and some sell for over $300, but we've seen doorstops like yours sell for under $50. Most cast-iron doorstops sold today were made from about 1890 to 1930. Your doorstop is unmarked, so it's impossible to know the maker. Does anyone know more about this doorstop?


Russel Wright (1904-1976)Q: Can you give me any information about my Russel Wright platter? The pattern is called "Theme Formal." The mark, as you see, says "Russel Wright, Yamato porcelain, designed in Japan." The platter is 15 1/4 inches long.

A: Russel Wright (1904-1976) was an American industrial designer. He designed domestic and industrial wares, including furniture, aluminum, radios, interiors, glassware, and dinnerware. Wright's dinnerware designs were made by several different companies. Theme Formal was made by the Yamato Porcelain Company of Tajimi, Japan. It was one of the last two dinnerware patterns designed by Wright. In 1964 Theme Formal and Theme Informal, a stoneware line, were announced as part of a line of tableware that included lacquerware, glassware and wood. When the lines were shown at the New York Gift Show in 1965, buyers did not like them and not enough orders were placed to go into full production. Some pieces were sold, but they were the prototypes for what was supposed to be a complete line. Some pieces of Theme Formal are in museums, but few are sold at shows or sales. The platter might bring over $500.


You can list only your phone number and not your street address in local phone books. Ask your phone company.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


New laws could threaten hefty fines for anyone running garage sales or church rummage sales if they're caught selling merchandise (mostly children's merchandise) that has been recalled because of safety concerns. You may need the 24-page "Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers" available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. While the standards set in 2008 were originally meant for new products with problems like too much lead content, the CPSC has claimed the standards also cover used items. So its new restrictions include hundreds of items recalled in the past that most sellers today know nothing about. We wonder if antique show promoters must now worry about early 1900s teddy bears with shoe-button eyes or old handmade cribs with bars too far apart or tiny 19th-century children's tea sets that could be swallowed.


A handwritten condolence letter written by Jackie Kennedy to her sister-in-law Ethel Kennedy after the 1968 assassination of Ethel's husband, Robert Kennedy, was removed in August from Heritage Auction Galleries by the FBI. The letter has gone through many hands in the last 10 years, but it may have been stolen long ago from Ethel Kennedy's home in Virginia. The letter is valued in the thousands of dollars. Heritage held the letter for three years waiting for a decision about who owned it--the Kennedy family or the consigner. Now the FBI has stepped in.


Q: I inherited this table from my great-aunt. It has a tube-type Silvertone radio inside. Can you give me an idea of age, history, and value?

A: Your table radio was advertised in the 1940 Sears catalog for $34.95 cash or $4 down. The drum table design is based on an eighteenth-century table by Duncan Phyfe. Sears sold Silvertone radios from the early 1920s to 1972. Silvertone radios were especially popular in the late 1930s and 1940s. Many Silvertone radios sold by Sears were actually made by other manufacturers. This model was made by Air King Products Co. of Brooklyn, New York. Air King made radios for Silvertone, GE, and other companies, and also made some radios under their own name. There is a limited market for old radios like this, but you ought to get $200-$300.


Copeland Spode EnglandQ: I have a Copeland Spode England sandwich plate marked "Spodes Byron Series No. 1." I've heard that the Byron plates were made in the 1830s. Is my plate really that old?

A: Marks like the one on your plate were used by Spode in the early 1800s, but they did not include the word "England."

When a country name is included in a mark, it usually indicates the piece was made after 1891, when the McKinley Tariff Act was passed requiring the country of origin to be on all pieces sold in the United States. All china imported into the United States after that had to be marked with the country of origin. A series of blue and white transfer plates with center scenes based on engravings in a book about Lord Byron's life were made by Copeland & Garrett, successors to Spode, in 1834. The plates were also made with brown, green, pink, and puce transfer scenes. They had acanthus leaf borders. These are called the Byron Views Series. Multicolored scenes like the one on your plate were made c.1931-1969. The center scenes are not the same as the older Byron series and the plates have grapevine borders. The twentieth-century plates sell for about $25-$35. A sandwich plate similar to yours recently was offered for sale for $67.


The government is trying to decide what to do with all the Indian artifacts--more than seven truckloads--that officials have confiscated during their three-year investigation of artifact looting in the Southwest. Jeanne Redd, who pleaded guilty to stealing one batch of the artifacts, has been sentenced to three years in jail. Her daughter, Jerrica, got two years. Their collection of more than 800 objects was confiscated.


Trying to get stains out of old fabrics? Mix color-safe bleaching powder (1/4 cup) with dishwasher powder (1/8 cup) and warm water (1/2 gallon). Soak the fabric in the mixture overnight, then wash. Dry in the air; do not use a dryer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Goodwill warehouse workers remove alarm wires before the sculpture is returned to the donorA Goodwill store in Miami received donations from a hotel that had been bought and sold several times. The signed, life-size bronze statue of a ballerina--all 2 1/2 tons of it--looked valuable so the Goodwill management looked up the artist, Sterett-Gittings Kelsey. They learned they had a treasure with an estimated value of $500,000. Goodwill offered to return the sculpture to the firm that owned the hotel and they are taking it back. Goodwill felt that the owner had been generous in giving about $68,000 worth of other items and did not realize the value of the statue. Although Goodwill could have sold the statue, they felt it would have been unethical. We applaud Goodwill for their honesty.


Careful with your firearms. A Pennsylvania history buff who likes to recreate things from past wars tried out one of his ideas. The fifty-four year old man fired a two-inch-diameter cannonball outside his house in Pennsylvania. It flew about 400 yards into the neighbor's window, then through an interior wall to land in the closet. No one was hurt, but the neighbor must have been surprised. The police charged the history lover with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. He has promised to stop shooting cannons on his property.


Oswald Schimmelpfennig Q: I have a night-light that has a bronze girl on a diving board over colored-glass "water." The piece is signed "Herr Oswald Schimmelpfennig." Can you give me any information about this?

A: Oswald Schimmelpfennig was a free-lance artist and sculpture who did work for Gladenbeck, a foundry in Berlin, Germany. Schimmelpfennig made statues of carved marble as well as bronze. He worked from the 1890s until at least 1933, when he made a bronze bust of Hitler.


 Old Sleepy Eye stonewareQ: I found a pitcher that appears to be Old Sleepy Eye, without the old sleepy Indian pottery mark. The mark on the bottom is a diamond shape with "Monmouth" written in the center and "ILL" below that. I can't make out more than "SCO' on the top. Do you have an idea what pottery mark this might be?

A: Old Sleepy Eye stoneware pictures the profile of an Indian, teepees, and trees. It was made as premiums that were put in bags of flour sold by the Sleepy Eye Milling Co. of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. Eventually the government made the milling company stop putting pottery in the bags since the customer wasn't getting the full weight of flour. Blue and gray Sleepy Eye was made by Weir Pottery Company of Monmouth, Illinois, from c.1899-1905. Weir merged with six other potteries and became Western Stoneware in 1906. Western Stoneware Company made blue and white Sleepy Eye from 1906 until 1937, long after the flour mill went out of business in 1921. Western Stoneware has operated as WS, Inc. since 2006. The mark you describe was used by Western Stoneware Company and the letters above the word "Monmouth" are "WSCO." The town, the lake it is on, and the flour milling company are named after Sleepy Eye, a Dakota Indian who had drooping eyelids. His Indian name, Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba, means sleepy eyes or drooping eyelids. He was one of four Indians who went to Washington, D.C. to meet President James Monroe in 1824 and was later involved in the treaty that gave Sioux lands to the U.S. government. Old Sleepy Eye died in 1860. His monument in the town of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, is inscribed "Always a Friend of the Whites." Reproductions of Sleepy Eye pieces are being made and new pieces that were never sold as premiums are also being made. The original pitchers came in five sizes and were made in one piece. Reproduction pitchers have an attached handle and are lighter in weight. It looks like you paid $1.99 for it, so you got a bargain. It is worth $100 or more, depending on size and condition.


"To move a heavy piece of furniture, put the legs on a throw rug or blanket and pull the blanket." I tried this and it works well if the furniture is not "tippy." You may need help getting the rug under the legs to start with. It is often a two-person job.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Don't be confused by the rebirth of the name "Faberge." Peter Carl Faberge made the famous Russian Imperial Easter eggs and other gold and jeweled objects from about 1870 to 1917, when his workshop was closed by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution. In 1951 an American started making "Faberge" perfume without permission from the Faberge family. After several changes in ownership, the original company name and trademarks were bought by a South African company in 2007. The new Faberge CEO has drawn some Faberge family members, great-grandchildren of Peter Carl, into the new company. The new Faberge firm is making very, very expensive jewelry in original designs. A bird-shaped pin set with hundreds of small precious stones is priced at over $400,000. Silver, tableware, and other luxury items will be available in the future.


President Abraham Lincoln's signature, probably the last he ever wrote, turned up at a 2006 flea market in Ohio. The signature was on a note that said, "Let this man enter with this note, April 14, 1865." That was the day Lincoln was shot. The note has been authenticated and may be worth up to $25,000. The owner says he is not selling it. (From an Associated Press article)


FlagsQ: My parents found this handkerchief in a trunk in the 1970s. It is silk and has the flags of six countries in the corners. There seems to be the word "Depose" in the lower right near the scales. We would love to know the meaning of it and its worth.

A: The flags (clockwise from the top) represent Great Britain, Belgium, France, Russia, Serbia, and Italy, countries involved in the outbreak of World War I. In 1914 Germany declared war on Belgium, France, and Russia; then Great Britain and Serbia declared war on Germany. Italy declared war on Germany in 1915. The flag pictured was the official flag of Italy from 1914 until 1917. The men pictured are the leaders of those countries, King Peter of Serbia, King George V of Great Britain, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, King Albert of Belgium, and President Raymond Poincare of France. The woman in the center of the handkerchief holds the scales of justice and has one arm over two girls. The big black bow worn by one of the girls shows that she is from Alsace-Lorraine, part of Germany from 1871 to 1918. Women and girls in Alsace-Lorraine wore bows that were sometimes over a yard wide. Protestants wore black bows, and Catholic girls wore colored bows. "Depose" is French and means that the design is registered. Your handkerchief may have been made to commemorate an event or alliance, or may just have been a patriotic souvenir. It's an interesting handkerchief and a graphic history lesson. It could be worth $50 to someone interested in World War I history.