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.


Russian Mark
Q: I have two fancy china plates that have this mark on them. It looks Russian to me, but I haven't been able to find it in any book.

A: You are right, it's a Russian mark. It is one of several marks used by the Kornilov Brothers of St. Petersburg, Russia. The factory was founded in 1835 by V.M. Kornilova. Her sons were listed as the owners in 1839, and in 1886 the company became Kornilov Brothers. The company made fine porcelain and became the Purveyor of the Imperial Court in 1843. In 1886 it began to export porcelain. In the United States and Canada, Kornilov Brothers porcelain was sold through the famous store, Tiffany & Co. Since the country name is not included on your plates, they were made before 1891. The company was out of business by 1918. Value depends on the decoration on the plates, but they are probably worth over $300 each.


Don't put vintage colored Pyrex mixing bowls in the dishwasher. After a few washings, the color is splotchy; after several, the color may be gone and you will have a white bowl.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Be the first to buy the best book in the business! Get our newest price guide, Kovels Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2010. It just arrived, weeks ahead of time, and we are shipping immediately. The book, with its bright red cover, is better than ever, with more prices and photos--47,000 prices and 2,500 color photos. You'll find helpful tips, a list of record prices, and unusual and entertaining sidebars. And remember: all our prices are actual prices from the past year's sales at shows, shops, auctions, and the most reliable Internet listings. Nothing is estimated. Plus, it's an All-American book--printed in the U.S.A.

The changes in the national economy this year caused changes in the prices paid for antiques. So you will see many items priced lower than a year ago, but top-quality items are sometimes higher. Many rare antiques were sold this year by long-time collectors, so some rare items, seldom sold, are priced in this year's book. Where else could you find the price of a full-size guillotine or a Good Humor man's cart or a silver wine funnel or a paper dress? As a special gift, we will send you, along with the book, a FREE copy of Fakes, Fantasies and Reproductions No. 11, a small, informative leaflet that will help you tell a fake from the "real thing." Order now.


 Zimbabwe bill
When inflation is rampant, one good investment strategy is to buy antiques and good collectibles. We don't know if people in Zimbabwe are doing that, but they sure have had to deal with inflation. If you want to be a trillionaire, you can get a $50 trillion and even a $100 trillion Zimbabwe bill, legal tender--$50 trillion Zimbabwe dollars equals about $140 U.S.


Walt Disney Company is buying Marvel Entertainment Inc., which owns many characters, including Spider Man, Iron Man, X-Men, Captain American and more. Look for new collectibles based on all of the comic characters and renewed interest and higher prices for the old items already collected.


Coca-Cola's advertising agencyQ: My dad worked for Coca-Cola for many years. He won this oil painting by Haddon H. Sundblom at a convention in Atlanta. On the back it says D'Arcy Advertising Co., St. Louis, Mo. Does the painting have any value?

A: Coca-Cola's advertising agency from 1906 to 1956 was D'Arcy Advertising Co. Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976) was a commercial artist in Chicago who began doing paintings for Coca-Cola ads in the 1920s. The painting looks like the original art for an ad. Sundblom is best-known for his paintings of Santa Claus that appeared in Coca-Cola ads from 1931 to 1964. His images changed the way Santa was portrayed and the rotund Santa was pictured as a friendly, jolly fellow. The original Santa Claus paintings have been exhibited all over the world and are worth several thousand dollars each today. His paintings of other subjects may not be as valuable, but if your painting is really an original oil painting and not a copy on textured canvas, it is very valuable and should be seen by a local expert. An interesting side note: Sundblom didn't drink Coca-Cola. He is quoted as saying "I never could stand the stuff."


Coca-Cola's advertising agencyQ: My great-grandmother received a dessert set for 10 as a wedding present in 1896. We have 40 pieces, including a teapot, sugar and creamer, plates, and cups and saucers. It was manufactured by W.T. Copeland & Sons for J.M. Shaw & Co. New York. It says "A Memorial of the Centennial" and pictures George Washington. Are these worth anything?

A: W.T. Copeland & Sons was founded in 1847 in Stoke, Staffordshire, England. It became W.T. Copeland & Sons Ltd. in 1932. J.M. Shaw & Co. was an importer that sold Copeland's china in the 1870s. Your dessert set was made to commemorate the centennial of the United States in 1876. The set would be worth about $1,500 to $1,800 today because of the patriotic and commemorative decorations.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


We were at an auction in Maine this week with many phone, Internet and absentee bidders. But the biggest bargains, the lots that had trouble getting an opening bid, went to buyers seated at the auction.