Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Frank Lloyd Wright chair

Who owns a chair taken from a dumpster? The police have decided that a Frank Lloyd Wright chair offered at auction wasn't stolen from S. C. Johnson Company. The chair, along with two others, had been "rescued" from a dumpster, then used for two years in the new owner's garage when he did repair work. He tried to sell them at two rummage sales then listed them on eBay. The chairs, some of the hundreds made in 1936 for the Johnson offices, sold to a dealer for $500, then at least one was sold to Wright Auction House in Chicago which put it up for sale. It brought $12,000. Some of the set of chairs are still in use at the company.

A bargain $280 was paid for a miniature painting a few months ago by a London art dealer. Research has shown that the miniature was by John Trumbell of Connecticut and is worth about $22,000. It's a 1793 picture of a Philadelphia lawyer. No news of how the dealer plans to sell it.

Marklin, the model train maker in Germany, was part of a private equity deal in 2006 but it has filed for bankruptcy. Restructuring failed because the company could not get new credit from the banks. Marklin hopes to use the time to restructure more effectively and save the company. The company was founded in 1859.


Baldwin & Gleason Co., Ltd

Q: I'm a curator with my state's historical society and have been trying to identify a lapel stud made by Baldwin & Gleason. Can you tell me anything about it?

A: Baldwin & Gleason Co., Ltd. was a manufacturer of political and advertising buttons, lapel studs, and novelty items in the late 1800s. The company was located in New York City. Although we don't know the history of the company, we've seen campaign items from 1862 to 1900 offered for sale. "The World" might have been a ride at an amusement park or World's Fair. Maybe one of our readers can identify the place.


Clementson Bros

Q: My 100-year old grandmother has had this platter for many years. She said it belonged to my grandfather's mother, who used to dry corn on this platter. Can you tell me a little about the platter and how old you think it might be?

A: Your dish is part of the Classical Antiquities series, registered by Clementson in 1849. Joseph Clementson founded a pottery in Hanley, Staffordshire, England, c.1839. It became Clementson Bros. in 1865 and was in business until 1916. The diamond-shaped English registry mark on your platter gives the clues to the age of the dish. The English registry mark (R in diamond) tells a lot about your piece. The "IV" indicates the type of material is ceramics, the "S" indicates the year (1849), the "W" the month (March), "13" is the day of the month, and "2" is the parcel number. Your dish was made March 13, 1849.


Put the dish and a glass of water in the microwave. Heat it for one minute on high. If the dish doesn't get hot it's okay to use it to heat food. But if there is gold or silver trim on the dish it will spark and can't be used. Never use a plate with chips, deep scratches or crazing. You will damage the plate and you may find bits of glasslike glaze in your food. And this is not a test for lead content in the glaze. Some old majolica and heavy pottery wares of the past were decorated with lead glazes which should not be used. Watch out for new decorative plates. They are usually marked "for decorative purposes only" because they have lead glaze.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


We keep getting reports of profitable auctions, crowds at shows, and high prices for the very best.

Good news
A piece of sheet music sold on eBay for $5,900, according to an email from a reader. It was the song "Mary Moore," copyright 1904, published 1906, with a picture of Groucho Marx ("Master Julius Marx") on the cover. Probably a record price.

Image Courtesy of Bonhams, Ltd.  Herter Brothers furniture

Better Good News
Herter Brothers furniture sold for breathtaking prices at a Bonhams New York auction. An American Renaissance bed went for $326,000. The matching cabinet was $230,000; a dresser, $103,700; a shaving stand, $61,000; and a walnut buffet, $194,000. These were part of a 15-piece group made in the late 1800s for the Thurlow Lodge in Menlo Park, California. The collection, considered the best examples of Victorian American Renaissance furniture ever made, belonged to Warner Bros. Studios. The years the furniture was stored in prop rooms caused some condition problems.

Image Courtesy of Memory Lane, Inc  1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings card

Best Good News
The baseball card of the year is probably the one that auctioned in February for $75,286 (price includes buyer's premium). The card was found by a California dealer in a box of stuff in an attic. It's an 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings card. A picture of the team is on one side, and a red and white ad for Peck & Snyder, a New York sports equipment manufacturer, is on the other. The card will be displayed at Tristar Productions shows around the country.


Lone Ranger guitar

Q: I have a Lone Ranger guitar that was given to my great aunt when she was a child. It is made of wood and I have its original case. Can you tell me its value?

A: The Lone Ranger was introduced on the radio in 1932. Over 3,000 shows were produced before the series ended in 1954. In 1938 the first Lone Ranger movie was made. Television shows started in 1949. Your guitar was made by Supertone, Sears & Roebuck's "house" brand before World War II. Several different manufacturers supplied instruments that were sold under that name. Most Supertones were inexpensive beginner's instruments, but they were not considered toys. Your guitar was made in 1940 and with its case is worth $75 to $400.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Erphila Art Pottery
Q: I recently bought a small vase that is marked Erphila Art Pottery. Can you help me identify it?

A: Erphila is a mark used by Ebeling & Reuss on pottery and porcelain imported from Czechslovakia, Germany, and other European countries after 1920. Ebeling & Reuss was founded in Philadelphia in 1886. They imported vases, pitchers, figurines, dinnerware, and more in styles ranging from Victorian to Art Deco. The name "Erphila" is a combination of the initials "E" and "R" and the first letters of the city, "phila." The company was sold to Strathmore Corp. of Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 2002 and is still in business.


The best 20th-century hammered aluminum pieces have plain, smooth backs. The hammered design does not show through as it does on less expensive pieces.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


You can send this 1940s valentine to a friend, collector or not. Please go to or click in the image below.

Happy Valentines Day from the Kovels!


Here's the latest news on the Brandeis museum controversy (see Kovels Komments, Feb. 4, 2009) that has our blog running overtime: Jehuda Reinharz, president of Brandeis, publicly apologized late last week. He said the Rose Museum will stay open but will "be more fully integrated into the university's mission." It will be a teaching site and a gallery, but not a public museum. He added that only a "minute number" of the artworks will be sold. Since this statement leaves many loopholes, we suggest that those who are involved make their decisions where they can be seen by the public--not at closed meetings at Brandeis. The decisions can have an impact on all universities, museums, art donors, and others. Here are some addresses you can use to register your complaints with those in charge at Brandeis. And we still welcome comments.

Art Supporter said...

Dear Terry, This concerned me so much, I e-mailed the university even though I have no connection to Brandeis. Here are a few e-mail addresses I used: ''; ''; ''; '' in case other readers feel compelled to write to the university. Thanks for your concern and information.

Susan Jane said...

Here is a further article:"Inside Higher Ed" at:

There is a web petition--please sign!

I belong to a professional art librarians group and this has been circulated to us. Thanks.


Will the price of Wedgwood go down if the factory closes? Some collectors say that because there are so many who buy vintage and antique pieces, prices will hold. The pieces made after World War II may go up for a while because the supply of Wedgwood will be smaller. But we have noticed in similar cases that after about 25 years, prices go down because there are no new retail ads to attract young buyers.


It is now legal to sell some new ivory. Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe sold over 100 tons of elephant ivory to China and Japan to be used for jewelry and carvings. The United Nations sanctioned the sale because the ivory came from elephants that died of natural causes or were killed in a population-maintenance program. The money must go for conservation in Africa.


Stubbs and Kent Platter
Q: This platter belonged to my wife's ancestors. Her grandmother said that it was brought over from England in the late 1700s or early 1800s. The mark on the back is Longport Stubbs & Kent. Can you tell me anything about the company?

A: Stubbs & Kent was a pottery located in Longport, Burslem, England c.1828-1830. A platter like yours sold at auction for $805 in 2008.


Erik Dernung, Made in Denmark
Q: I bought a silver ring set with an agate from an antiques shop. The shop owner said it is marked "Erik Dernung, Made in Denmark." Can you tell me who made this ring?

A: Your antiques shop dealer misread the name. We searched for silver makers and found one with the name Dennung and a mark like yours. The maker is Erik Dennung, a Danish silver maker who lived from 1925 to 2007. He had a shop, Dennung Salvsmedie ApS, in Copenhagen in the 1960s and '70s, perhaps longer. The B+D mark indicates he made the ring for Buch & Deichmann. That company started in the early 1970s. They made plastic bracelets and pins, as well as other costume jewelry. Buch & Deichmann is still in business and now makes stylish sunglasses. The ring sells for around $100. Can anyone tell us more?


Never polish Arts and Crafts copper or pewter. Even if the patina is damaged, it's better than a cleaned piece. Original finish is important. The green or brown patina on a piece of Heinz Art and some others was added at the factory.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Brandeis University trustees voted unanimously last week to close the Rose Art Museum on campus and sell all of its contents. There had been no advance discussion with faculty, students, the museum's own board, or its director. The college said it needed money, and the museum's collection, all donated, of 7,180 works of art (many from the 1960s-70s) is said to be worth $350 million. Why didn't the trustees sell just a few paintings to cover its $10 million shortfall? The American Association of Museums prohibits accredited museums like Rose from de-accessioning any art except to purchase new art. Brandeis avoids the prohibition by closing the museum, but perhaps the university could have worked out an agreement with the association.

We wonder at the ethics and wisdom of the Brandeis decision to close the museum. The sale sparked a sit-in by students, and it will also anger art donors and discourage gifts. Besides, does the university even have the legal right to sell the art? Will Brandeis first offer the art back to the donors? Did the board balance the budget at the expense of a very bad PR move that will haunt them for years? Museums need to know how the public and future donors feel about the Brandeis move. This is important to all of us, because our collections of objects from everyday life could also be destroyed--and future generations might never see a tinsmith's tools or a wooden washing machine or even an 18th-century house. Let everyone know how you feel by posting on our blog.


There may be hope that Waterford will continue in business. Clarion Capital, a U.S. buyout firm, made an offer to the government and union leaders that is said to include reopening the plant in Waterford, Ireland. Another U.S. buyout offer is for the brand name only and would keep the Irish factory closed. Workers staged a sit-in at the factory last weekend when the factory closed and they were locked out.


Mexican alexandrite


Q: Can you tell me something about this beautiful ring? I thought it was alexandrite but was told it is corundum and was made around 1880-1910. It is in a rose gold setting marked 14kt, 585, 111 and also has a tiny boat mark. It is fuchsia under indoor lights and changes to blue outside.

A: Corundum is sometimes called "Mexican alexandrite." It is a gem mineral made in the lab by flame fusion, a process developed by Auguste Victor Louis Verneuil in 1893. The number "585" was used in Europe and indicates that the piece is 585 parts gold to 1000 parts, approximately the equivalent of 14kt gold (583 parts gold). The style of your ring suggests that it was made in a Scandinavian country in the 1950s. It is too modern to be a 19th-century piece. Mexican alexandrite rings set in gold sell in Mexico today for about $150.




Q: This vase was given to me by a 90-year-old friend in 2000. It was given to her mother before 1920. This is the mark on the bottom. Can you tell me who made this vase?

A: This M in wreath mark was registered in Japan and the U.S. in 1911. It is usually in green, but can be found in blue, gold, or magenta. The "M" stands for Morimura, a trading company that had offices in Tokyo and New York City. Morimura Bros. Co. was founded in 1876 and eventually became Noritake Co. Ltd. The word "Nippon," the Japanese name for Japan, was used on goods imported into the United States from 1891 to 1921. After 1921 "Japan" was used. Marks used after 1915 usually include the words "Made in" and the country name.


If you are considering giving a gift to a museum, historical society, school, or some other tax exempt organization, be sure to obtain a written agreement. You can give your donation with the legally binding requirement that if it's sold, the money will be used for more art or collectibles, not for buildings or salaries or other types of collections. If the museum or school won't take it under those conditions, you can require that the donation be returned to you when the organization no longer wants it. If the museum or school balks at that request, give your donation to someone else. Years ago a serious collector and author of information on wooden wares gave her entire, valuable collection to a local museum to be displayed and studied--only to live long enough (over 90) to see the museum sell all of it. And the museum even ignored her wishes and used the money it made selling her collection to pay for other projects.