Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Terry Kovel
Listen to Terry Kovel live on Martha Stewart Living Radio next week. Terry will be talking about collecting and answering listeners' questions at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5, during MSL Radio's "Living Today" show. Tune in to Sirius Satellite Radio's Channel 112.


Royal Worcester Spode
The Spode and Royal Worcester brand names and trademarks, patents, etc. have been purchased from Royal Worcester Spode by Portmeirion Potteries for $5.27 million. Portmeirion plans to continue making the brands' products and some patterns. Portmeirion's chairman says some of the brands' patterns, including Spode's Blue Italian (shown here) and Christmas Tree and Royal Worcester's Evesham, will be "reinvigorated."


The Walt Disney Family Museum will open in San Francisco on Oct. 1. The three buildings that will house the museum are filled with video screens showing film clips, the story of the life of Walt Disney (including family movies), animation art, theme park artifacts, production innovations, and all types of memorabilia. The museum will probably create new interest among Disneyana collectors and prices will rise. It also represents another step toward having comic art recognized as an art form, not kitsch. Collectors want Disney art from the years 1928 to 1967 (Walt Disney died in 1966 at the age of 65).


Q: I have a Pepsi bottle that I've tried researching. I can't find anything like it. What can you tell me about it?

A: Pepsi-Cola was invented by Caleb Bradham in 1898. At first it was called "Brad's Drink." The name "Pepsi-Cola" was trademarked in 1903. Several different logos have been used. Until 1951, the words "Pepsi" and "Cola" in the logo were separated by 2 dashes. These bottles are called "double dash." The name of the bottler is listed at the bottom of the label under the word "healthful." Value of your bottle, $25-$50.


Bull in a China ShopQ: This little pitcher was left in a house I bought seven years ago. I use it as a container for some of my odd-shaped spoons. We've decided to sell our house and its contents and I'm wondering if this pitcher is valuable. I read that if the word "England" is not in the mark, the item was made before 1890, which makes this pitcher about 120 years old. Naturally, the pitcher that stood on my counter for seven years was suddenly wrapped carefully and put in a box to keep it from getting damaged. It has a little chip on the base. Is it valuable?

A: The McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 mandated that china and some other goods imported to the U.S. had to be marked with the country of origin. The maker could use a paper label or include the country in the mark. Several members of the Meakins family made pottery. James and George Meakin built the Eagle Pottery in Hanley in 1859. Another brother, Charles, founded Eastwood Pottery in Hanley in 1883. It became part of J. & G. Meakin in 1888 and the company name became J. & G. Meakin Ltd. in 1890. Earthenware was made at the Eastwood Works until 1959 and at Eagle Pottery until c.1980. The company became part of the Wedgwood Group in 1970. Pottery was sold under the Trade Name "Bull in a China Shop" beginning in 1980. Production ceased by 2000. Since your pitcher includes "Eastwood" in the mark but not "England," it was probably made between 1888 and 1891. The piece is useful but not decorative and is not rare. The chip lowers the value to under $25.


From Beth Hylen, a reader who is a reference librarian at the Rakow Research Library at the Corning Musum of glass, Corning, N.Y.:

Your Kovels Komments readers may be interested in these resources about cleaning glass:

Koob, Stephen P. Conservation and Care of Glass Objects. London : Archetype Publications in association with the Corning Museum of Glass, 2006. 158 p. (Chapter on Cleaning Glass pp. 39-46.)

This book is a wonderful resource for learning how to safely clean glass.  Stephen Koob is the conservator at The Corning Museum of Glass. If it is not available in your library, ask your local librarian to borrow a copy through Interlibrary Loan. Also, it is available for sale from the Corning Museum:

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) has information about caring for glass and other types of antiques:

"Caring for Ceramics and Glass Objects," available at:  Resource Center / Caring for Your Treasures

These articles cover the hazards of dishwashers (to glass):

Wang, Chun; George Krausch; and Marcus Decker. "Three Different Reasons for Surface Damages of Glasses after Machine Dishwashing." Glass Science and Technology, v. 78, No. 5, September/October 2005, pp. 195-202. 

Glassware Crystal Clear or Dull and Cloudy? [Clemson Extension] Water Quality [WQL] 7, September 1990.  Clemson, S.C.: The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, 1990. 2 pages. 

And here's a note from Stephen Koob himself about our tips on glass-cleaning: Not too bad, except for the test-scratching with a pin!  And they did not mention that after acid cleaning, even with vinegar, one should thoroughly rinse the glass, preferably in pure (deionized or distilled) water.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Neil Armstrong CheckA $10.50 check auctioned for $27,350 last week at RR Auction in New Hampshire. It was signed by astronaut Neil Armstrong on July 16, 1969, the very day he took off for the moon. It is the only known Apollo-era check signed by Armstrong. He has not given an autograph to anyone since 1994.

In 2003 a professional mover in New York City was paid to haul trash away from the home of an artist who had died. He took the rubbish he was asked to remove and stored some of it, including a cardboard barrel, in his warehouse. In 2008 he opened the barrel and found ancient Mexican figurines, bowls, and jugs now valued at $16,500. The mover says he likes a different kind of historical relic and hopes to sell these.

The antiques shops are open for business again in Baghdad, although they close early and have extra security. Dealers there sell ancient treasures as well as early 20th-century antiques that belonged to wealthy Iraqi families. Silver, brass, and gold items made by expert craftsmen, china, paintings, and--of course--rugs. Prices are reasonable, but Iraq is not a place that's popular with tourists who would buy.


Sotheby's had to remove two Ohr pottery vases from a June auction. Both vases were judged to be fakes. The vases were too heavy and had other problems, including a suspicious provenance. The listing said the pieces were from a collection "c.1967." The major group of Ohr pottery was not discovered until 1968 and pieces from the find weren't sold until the 1970s.

Oops--a knowledgeable reader of last week's ezine news, S.B., gently reminded us that the Chinese did not carry inros; the Japanese did. Of course, she is correct.


Roger and GalletQ: Recently I bought a very interesting bar of soap called "Cigalia" by Roger & Gallet. It looks like a cricket. The box has a bed of silky material. The soap looks like it hasn't been used, although there are end bits missing. Can you tell me anything about this?

A: Roger & Gallet was founded in Paris in 1862. The company made perfume and cosmetics. Perfumed soap was first made in 1879. The soap was wrapped in silk paper. Cigalia perfume was introduced c.1910. "Cigale" is French for cicada. The perfume came in a Lalique bottle embossed with cicadas and two cicadas were impressed on the lid of the box it came in.


EtruriaQ: I have a large vase with these marks on the bottom. Can you tell me anything about it?

A: This mark was used on pottery made at the Etruria Works in Trenton, New Jersey, from 1863 to 1894. The pottery, Bloor, Ott & Booth, was founded by William Bloor, Joseph Ott, and Thomas Booth in 1863. Booth retired in 1864 and John Hart Brewer, Ott's nephew, became a partner in 1865. The company name became Ott & Brewer after Bloor retired in 1871. The name "Etruria" copied the name of a pottery established by Josiah Wedgwood in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, in 1769. The crown mark further promotes the image of English-quality china. Cretona is the name of the pattern. Large Cretona vases sell for about $150.


Several readers thought the Apollo silver holder (ezine, July 15) held toast. The best new suggestion was that it held upright silverware on a buffet.

Regarding how to clean stains from inside vases (ezine, July 8 and 15), J.S. wrote: "Remove the mess inside vases with warm water and a couple of Alka Seltzer tablets." E.T. from Vienna, Austria, offered a tip we have never tried: Put a handful of tiny paper chips from an old newspaper into the vase, add water, and let it stand overnight, swishing around the contents once in a while. The next day, remove the water with the dissolved newspaper in it; your glass container will be sparkling again. Use only old-fashioned, absorbent newspaper, not glossy magazines or plastified material.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


  • We saw milk at the grocery store this week advertised as "like mother used to make"--as if mother made milk for the whole family. I looked at the pyro ads on the glass milk bottle. The milk is not homogenized, so the cream separates and rises to the top. It's a good bottle for a milk bottle collector to save.
  • Beads are back as bracelets. New bead bracelets are like charm bracelets--each bead represents an event. We suggest collecting old beads, including early Chinese porcelain beads that held the cords on inros (boxy Chinese pocketbooks).
  • Holt Howard novelty giftwares made in the 1950s are selling well again. They lost favor and were considered "kitsch" in the 1970s, were collected by a small group in the late '80s, dropped in popularity again, and now are moving up in price. The comic heads, sly kittens, smiling mice, realistic roosters, and Christmas figures make an amusing display. A pixieware liquor decanter sells for about $600; an instant-coffee holder with a smiling dark-skinned girl is $250.
  • Blue decorated white stoneware is selling for record prices, much higher than in past decades. The newest record is $103,500 for a Boynton Pottery water cooler from Albany, New York, dated 1817 and decorated with birds and fish.


Apollo SilverQ: I'm not certain what this is. "Apollo Silver Co USA, pat'd Apr. 1 1913" is marked on the bottom. I was told it might be from an old train dining car and that the check was given to the patron in it or that it held a menu.

A: Apollo Silver Co. was founded in New York in 1885 and was succeeded by Bernard Rice's Sons c.1899. The company made silver plated items. Bernard Rice's Sons used "Apollo Silver Co." as one of its marks. The company was out of business by 1959. We aren't sure what this is. Can anyone help?


Royal Rudolstadt
Q: I have a plate that has painted roses and raised highlights and this Royal Rudolstadt mark on the back. Can you tell me anything about this lovely piece?

A: Royal Rudolstadt is not the name of the company that made your plate. This crown over B in shield mark was used by Beyer & Bock from c.1905 to c.1920. Beyer & Bock was in business in Volkstedt, Thuringia, Germany, from 1853 to 1960. It was founded as a decorating company and began decorating porcelain after 1890. The company was nationalized in 1960 and became Porcelain Factory Rudolstadt Volkstedt. The painted pieces are plentiful and sell for about $25-$50.


"Love your ezine newsletter. On July 8 you wrote that it's impossible to remove residue from a glass vase if the flowers are left to rot and the water evaporates. I have a suggestion: To remove residue from a glass vase that held flowers, use Lime-A-Way (scrub with a toothbrush) or pour a heavy concentration of Lime-A-Way and water into the vase and let it stand overnight (then scrub remaining residue using a toothbrush). Wear rubber or latex gloves--Lime-A-Way is caustic. Muck won't etch everyday glass and I doubt that anyone would put flowers in a Moser vase." We have to add that sometimes even everyday glass DOES get etched and the cloudy look can't be removed with chemicals.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


A word of warning: 70 percent of the Michael Jackson autographs on eBay are forged or printed signatures, according to the International Autograph Collectors Club & Dealers Alliance (ADA-CC). Celebrities sometimes earn more dead than alive. Elvis Presley, the world's top-earning dead celebrity (so far), earned $52 million last year, according to Forbes magazine. Much of the money made by dead celebrities comes from music or art they created while alive. But some is from "manufactured" memorabilia, like visits to Graceland, souvenirs, use of the name and image, limited editions, jewelry, and more. But experts say that common Jackson memorabilia that has been going up in price will probably go down. One-of-a-kind items like costumes should stay high-priced. People were trying to scalp Michael Jackson's funeral tickets as soon as they were issued. They're another piece of memorabilia that some think will go up in price because only a limited number were printed.


ABC PLATEQ: I found this unmarked plate decorated with Benjamin Franklin's proverbs at an estate sale. It is 6 3/8 inches in diameter. Do you know who made it?

A: Children's alphabet plates, or ABC plates, were made by several potteries, including many in Staffordshire, England, beginning in the late eighteenth century and are still being made. They were popular until about 1860 and were used to help children learn to read. ABC plates were made of pottery, porcelain, metal, or glass. Most have embossed or printed letters around a central transfer design. Benjamin Franklin's maxims or proverbs and other "inspirational" sayings were often used on ABC plates. The same scene can be found on plates of different sizes. Benjamin Franklin wrote seventy-eight maxims or proverbs between 1733-1758 and published them in Poor Richard's Almanack under the title "The Way to Wealth." Mugs and other items were also made with alphabet decorations. The Staffordshire ABC plates sell for about $175. Perhaps we should still listen to Benjamin Franklin. The motto on this plate is: "For age and want save while you may. No morning sun lasts all the day."


Denby Pitcher Q: I have a little pitcher with this mark on the bottom. Can you tell me who made it and how old it is?

A: Denby Pottery was established by William Bourne in Denby, Derbyshire, England, in 1809. His son, Joseph Bourne, took over the business in 1812. The pottery is still in business as Joseph Bourne & Son Ltd. This mark was used on Denby stoneware c.1950-1975. The signature underneath the mark is "A. Colledge." Albert Colledge designed this Flair pattern with his son in 1953. You probably have a cream pitcher. One recently sold for $10.

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When you arrange flowers in a glass vase, do not allow the water to evaporate. It will leave a white residue that may be impossible to remove. It might also leave a colored stain.