Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Eva Zeisel is known to collectors for her modern ceramic designs for Hall China, Red Wing, Sears Roebuck, the Museum of Modern Art, Hyalyn Pottery, Rosenthal and other potteries. She also designed metal chairs, crystal vases, lamps, plastic dinnerware, and interiors. This year she designed hand-knotted, hand-carved carpets. And she is 102 years old. What should we expect next year?
A: Kaufmann & Strauss was a company that made tin signs and advertising trays from 1890 to the early 1930s. It is unusual to find the printed name of a company on the back of a sign; usually the printing is only on one side. Coca-Cola used the picture of a girl in a blue dress sitting at a table on its 1898 calendar and other advertising items. A 20-by-28-inch tin sign is pictured in Petretti's Coca-Cola Collectibles Price Guide, 10th ed., with a value of $15,000. In 1886 John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist in Atlanta, developed Coca-Cola syrup as a patent medicine that was advertised as a cure for headache or "tired feeling." By 1900 it was usually advertised as a soda fountain drink and not as a headache medicine. Your sign, even bent, rusted, and filled with holes, could sell for a few thousand dollars if it's original. Beware. The frame is new and the sign has a surprising number of holes; it's possible it's a copy. The actual sign, not a picture of it, should be seen by an expert to determine the value.
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A: The Royal Doulton mark on your vase was used beginning in 1932. F. Allen (probably Fred Allen) was an artist at Royal Doulton. "Sung" is the name of a flambe glaze developed by Charles John Noke, the art director at Royal Doulton from 1914 to 1936. Flambe was made by adding copper oxide and other chemicals to the glaze and then reducing the flow of oxygen to the kiln, producing a mottled effect. Sung was made from 1920 to the early 1940s. Your vase was made between 1932 and 1936. The size of the vase helps determine the price. A 6-inch vase is worth about $450; bigger vases bring higher prices.
Don't store old fireworks, and watch out for antiques that have been stored a long time but could explode. Guns, shells, powder cans, nitrate movie film, and some chemicals left in old bottles or cans are dangerous. It you aren't sure what you're dealing with, contact your local police or fire department for help. Some explosives, like dynamite sticks or even World War II hand grenades, are unstable and could explode if moved.
A lucky collector bought this Michael Jackson-signed Galveston guitar for $597 from a Heritage auction about two weeks ago. That was a buy. All Michael Jackson memorabilia will go up in value.
Find more Michael Jackson Memorabilia ...
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
But the whole story is even more complicated. It is part of a real life detective drama involving a fine arts thief, the Chicago mob, a porn shop owner, a murder, a blackmail demand for the return of the stamp, and the suicide of a man who was accused of selling bogus collectibles. To this day no one admits to knowing where the stamp has been all these years.
Q: I have a Dick Tracy "Crime Does Not Pay Club" puzzle. I would like to know the value.
A: Your puzzle was made c.1946 by Jaymar Specialty Company of Brooklyn, New York. The company was founded in the late 1920s by Jacob Marx, his son, David, and daughter, Rose. Jacob was the father of Louis Marx, who founded his own toy company before Jaymar was established. Jaymar made jointed wood toys, specializing in comic character figures. The company began making puzzles after World War II. Jaymar Specialty Company went out of business in 1990. A puzzle like yours sold at auction for $74 a few months ago.
Q: Can you tell me the something about the maker and age of my dish? It has this anchor mark on the bottom.
A: Your dish was made by Sampson Bridgwood and Son, which was established in Longton, Staffordshire, England, in 1805. The pottery made earthenware and porcelain. Bridgwood began operating Anchor Pottery in Longton in 1853. Porcelain was not made after 1877. Several different anchor marks were used. Sampson Bridgwood is now part of Churchill China, which makes tableware for restaurants and catering businesses. Your mark is similar to a mark Sampson Bridgwood used in the 1950s. "Ye Olde Indian Tree" is the pattern name. Indian Tree was a popular china pattern made by several manufacturers in the nineteenth century. Value for a dinner plate, under $30.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A: This figure was an advertisement for Edgeworth pipe tobacco, a company in business from 1877 to 1874. Your figure was made c.1930 and was probably based on Jiggs, the father in "Bringing Up Father," a comic strip that ran in newspapers from 1913 to 2000. Jiggs was an Irish-American bricklayer who became rich when he won the sweepstakes. He preferred his old friends and the local tavern to socializing with the wealthy. His wife, Maggie, wanted to be part of high society and continually tried to "bring him up." Your figure may have been repainted and the facial features "touched up." The figure usually has a cigar in his mouth, wears white spats and a white vest, and has the words "I Smoke Edgeworth Tobacco" printed on the front of his shirt. The original figure, complete with cigar and wording, would be worth $300 if not repainted.
Q: I found a brick from the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. It is 9 inches by 5 inches, and has two circles with a man's image and another image I cannot identify. The letters R R and C C are in the corners. Do you know if this brick has any value or historical significance?
A: Your brick commemorates the 1893 Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World's Fair. It was made by the Robinson Clay Products Co. of Akron, Ohio. R C P C are the raised letters in the corners. The conjoined circles bear two images: Columbus stepping into the "New World" on the left, and on the right, an imprint of the medal awarded to Robinson Clay Co. for having the best brick at the fair. These bricks were used as spacers between bricks for street surfacing and have sold for around $150.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
We all learned about flags in school, so see what you remember.
1) Describe the Smithsonian's flag or, better yet, make a quick sketch of it--stars, stripes, and damage. 2) Who made the first American flag? 3) How many points on the flag's stars? 4) When were official rules first established for the appearance of the flag?
1) The tattered Smithsonian flag has 15 stars and 15 stripes (count them in the picture). One of the original stars is missing, possibly lost in the 1814 battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became our national anthem. Our first flag had 13 stripes, red and white, and 13 white stars on a blue field. In 1791 and 1792, stars and stripes were added for the new states of Vermont and Kentucky. So the flag had 15 stars and 15 stripes until 1818. The rules changed after that. As more states joined the union, each flag had only 13 stripes but an added star for each new state. Since the Smithsonian flag was flown at the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, it has 15 stripes and 15 stars.
2) No one has proof. Betsy Ross was a real person, a flag-maker born in Philadelphia in 1752, but no one can prove she made the first American flag. The story was publicized in 1870 by her grandson, who told it as part of his family history.
3) Five. The rule now is five points, but early flag-makers used five-pointed, six-pointed or even seven- or eight-pointed stars.
4) There were no official rules until 1912, when President William Howard Taft signed an executive order that described the size and shape and the arrangement of the stars on an official U.S. flag.
Q: I have a Loose-Wiles biscuit tin with a picture of George Washington on the lid. What can you tell me about it?
A: Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company was founded in Kansas City 1902 by John A. Wiles and brothers Jacob Leander Loose and Joseph Schull Loose. The company called its crackers and cookies Sunshine Biscuits. In 1946 the company changed its name to Sunshine Biscuits, Inc. It is now a subsidiary of Keebler. Your biscuit tin was first made in 1939, 150 years after George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. Most modern decorative tin boxes sell for under $30.
A: Teplitz is not the maker of your compote but a town in Bohemia (part of Czechoslovakia since 1948). Several potteries were located in the area around Teplitz. The country of origin was marked on goods imported into the United States after 1891. The words "Made in" were usually used after 1915. This flower mark was used by the Ernst Wahliss pottery in Turn-Teplitz, Bohemia, from c.1894-c.1921. After Ernst died in 1900, his sons took over the pottery. The name of the pottery was changed to Alexandra Porcelain Works Ernst Wahliss in 1905. The Ernst Wahliss pottery made reproductions of Vienna porcelain figurines beginning in 1902 using molds from the Imperial and Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Vienna, which was out of business. Since your figurine is marked "Wien," the German name for "Vienna," you probably have one of the reproduction figurines made between 1902 and c.1921.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Rarity, quality, and demand (not necessarily age) create value in the collector marketplace. The 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, a successful race car, has always been expensive, but bidders in Italy were amazed when one sold last month for a world record $12.1 million. Only 22 of the models were made. The price topped the previous Ferrari record of $10.9 million, set last year for a 1961 250 GT SWB California Spider.
A: You have a humidor used to keep cigars fresh. The scene on the side is from the comic operetta "Les Cloches de Corneville" ("The Bells of Corneville"), which was first produced in Paris in 1877. Later it was made into a silent movie. The operetta was called "The Chimes of Normandy" when it opened in London and New York. It is one of the most popular French operettas and is still performed occasionally. We did a lot of research on the mark on your humidor and found a humidor like yours with a similar mark plus an additional mark that identifies the maker as Taylor, Tunnicliff & Co. The company was founded in 1867 by Thomas Taylor and William Tunnicliff in Hanley, Staffordshire, England. The pottery made humidors, biscuit jars, fairy lamp bases, and other items from 1868 to 1898. After 1898 the company specialized in making ceramics for the electrical industry. The company is now called Taylor Tunnicliff Ltd. and is located in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. The A.F.C mark on your humidor is a mystery. It may be the artist's mark. Your humidor is worth about $150.
A: American silver is usually marked only with the maker's mark, but English silver is marked with a series of hallmarks including the quality mark, town mark, maker's mark and sovereign's head. On English silver, the anchor mark is the town mark for Birmingham. Some American makers used a series of "pseudo hallmarks," imitating the way English silver was marked. The anchor, star and head in profile marks were used by several American companies that made coin silver c.1825-1835.
I just got a new plastic storm door and was told not to clean it with Windex because ammonia will eventually cause the plastic to become cloudy. Not all plastic reacts the same way, but just to be sure don't use ammonia or ammonia-based cleaners on any form of old plastic, especially plastic purses and jewelry.