Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A: Vernon Kilns made vases, bowls, dinnerware, salt and pepper shakers, and figurines based on Walt Disney's film "Fantasia" in 1940 and 1941. Pieces marked with the date were made with different decorations. The movie "Fantasia" was not very popular when it was released in 1940, and the line of pottery was discontinued in 1941. It is now one of Disney's most popular animated films and the Vernon Kilns pieces are sought by collectors. Undecorated "dancing mushroom" trays like yours sell for about $20. A similar tray with hand-painted mushrooms and leaves was recently offered for sale at $300. Other Fantasia dishes sell for higher prices. The figurines go for hundreds of dollars.
Q: I found this Tiffany spoon at an antiques shop more than 40 years ago. In all that time, my research hasn't turned up any information at all on it. Can you help?
A: Your spoon was a major puzzle for us. The patent date in the mark indicates the year the design was patented. Tiffany used lower-case or upper-case date letter marks beginning in 1869 to indicate when the pattern was actually made. The marks were either raised or incused (hammered, pressed, or stamped). The lower-case "m" indicates that the silver was made c.1869-c.1875, when Edward C. Moore was head designer. After Moore's death in 1891, the initial of the last name of the president of Tiffany was used as the date letter mark. The lower-case "m" was also used from 1907-1947. Your spoon is a pattern called Lap Over Edge, designed by the superintendent of Tiffany's silver factory. It was introduced in 1880 and was an active pattern until 1904. It is a unique pattern because a complete set of Lap Over Edge silver includes many different decorations. Designs were inspired by Japanese design books and included animals, birds, insects, and plants. Special designs were made to order. Decorations were etched, engraved, chased, applied, or inlaid. The name of the decoration was hand-scratched onto the back of some pieces. Your spoon could sell for as much as $500.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Marilyn Monroe: Want to spend eternity near the famous movie star? Her body is resting in a crypt in a California cemetery. Monroe's ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio, sold the crypt above hers during their divorce in 1954. That crypt is now being offered for sale--with a starting bid of $500,000. The body of the current occupant will be moved to another crypt by his widow. She needs the money to help pay off her mortgage. The Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery is popular with tourists and as a final resting place for celebrities.
A: Since this year marks the fortieth anniversary of Woodstock, there is a lot of interest in things related to the event. A jacket like yours, with a peace symbol on the front, is displayed in the Hard Rock Cafe in Makati, Philippines. It is one of its top 10 memorabilia items. A similar jacket, blue and without the word "Peace" on the front, sold for $1,186 last year.
Q: I have a pottery stein with an emblem of a flowerpot on the bottom with one flower and a long leaf on each side of it. It says "Keramik" underneath it. Can you identify the maker?
A: The mark indicates that your stein was made by Gmundner Keramic, a pottery in the town of Gmunden, Austria. The pottery was founded in 1903 by Leopold Schleiss and is still in business. It made ornamental art and began making tableware in 1968. All of the pottery is hand-painted. Most of it is exported to Germany and other European countries, Japan, and the United States. The company has changed hands several times and is now owned by Johannes Duke of Moy. The company still uses the flowerpot mark as a logo. Value depends on the design on the stein.
Martha Stewart Living magazine adds these suggestions: a man's size 10 1/2 shoe is about a foot long. A woman's size 8 shoe is about 10 inches long.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law for food labels has been in full effect since March. The country of origin must be shown on labels so you can "Buy American" if you choose or check to see if there is a health hazard in the country that grew the frozen vegetables you're thinking of buying. The COOL law had already been in place for fish and fresh fruits and vegetables. The law is important to collectors of labels, because in years to come the labels will be an indication of the age of the label or package.
A: This is a plate that was originally attached to the front of an old iron safe made by Herring-Farrel & Sherman of New York. It was held in place by screws that went through the "eyes" of the dolphins on the sides. The company won a bronze medal in 1867 for fire-proof and burglar-proof safes that were made of wrought iron, steel bars, and patented crystallized iron, which was advertised as "the only metal which cannot be drilled by a burglar." Several companies made safes advertised as fire-proof and tests were run on various brands to see which were best. The plate you have pictures a safe in a test furnace and four men nearby. Two of the men appear to be burglars, while the other two men represent the owners of the company. A bronze safe plate similar to yours, but with original gilt finish, sold at auction a few years ago for $173. It was made by Silas C. Herring & Co. and includes the date May 18, 1852. Since the company name on your safe plate is Herring-Farrel & Sherman and it includes the date Feb. 7, 1865, Herring evidently merged his company with the other two safe-makers after 1865.
A: This is one of the marks used by J. & M. P. Bell & Co. (Ltd.), a pottery in Glasgow, Scotland, founded by John and Matthew Perston Bell. The pottery was operated from 1842 to 1928. The English registry number on your plate was issued between 1919 and 1924. Much of Bell's production was exported to Asia. Patterns were influenced by traditional Asian designs and were given names of foreign places or foreign words.
Before you use the vase you just bought at a flea market, test it. Fill it to the top and put it on a dry spot on your kitchen counter overnight. If it leaves a ring of moisture or a puddle, it can't be placed on a good piece of furniture. Get some paraffin wax, melt it, and swish it around the dry inside of the vase. Make a thick-enough coat of wax to be sure there are no holes. It will be leak-proof for many years if you are careful not to scratch the wax with hard stems.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Gangster John Dillinger carried a pistol in the 1930s when he was robbing banks. It sold at a Heritage auction in Los Angeles for $95,600, much more than expected and probably more than Dillinger ever got in a hold-up. Could part of the interest be because of the new movie "Public Enemies," in which Johnny Depp plays the part of Dillinger?
Q: I have a carved wooden bottle stopper marked "Anri." The man tips his hat and his head moves when the string is pulled. Can you tell me something about it?
A: Anri made hundreds of different kinds of carved wooden bottle stoppers. The company was founded by Anton Riffeser, who came from a long line of woodcarvers in the Tyrol region of Austria. In 1912 he started a workshop in St. Christina (part of Italy after World War I) and in 1926 started the House of ANRI. The name was formed by combining the first two letters of his first and last names. The company sold bottle stoppers and small figurines made in its workshop or made by local woodcarvers. Since each piece was handmade, no two pieces were exactly alike. Before 1952 much of the work was done by carvers who worked in their homes and sold their work to Anri, but after 1952 machines were used in the production. Thousands of items have been made, including bottle openers, corkscrews, bookends, desk accessories, nutcrackers, smoking accessories, and other items. The company is still run by a member of the Riffeser family. "Mechanical" bottle stoppers with moving parts like yours are popular with collectors. The stoppers were made in three styles, which collectors call the hat tipper, the drinking man, and the kissing couple. Value of your hat tipper, about $40.
Q: I have a children's bowl with this crown mark on it. I would like to find out the maker.
A: This mark was used by Crown Potteries Company of Evansville, Indiana, c.1950. The company was formed in 1902 when Crown Pottery Company took over Peoria Pottery Company. Crown Potteries made majolica, ironstone, semiporcelain and white granite. The company was out of business by 1962.