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.