Tuesday, January 26, 2010


American silver bowlAn American silver bowl (est., $400,000-$800,000) set a record of $5,906,500 at a Sotheby's auction last Friday. The punch bowl was made about 1700-1710 by Cornelius Kierstede and descended from the original Royalist owner to his present-day English relatives, who revealed its existence in 2009.


Baby ShoesI'm just back from The Original Miami Beach Antique Show, one of the largest and oldest in the country. There were many, many booths filled with expensive jewelry--diamonds, precious stones, Victorian, Edwardian, Mexican silver jewelry by Spratling, Los Costillo and Margot de Taxco, pieces by David-Andersen and Georg Jensen of Denmark, and jewelry by top modernist designers like Sam Kramer and Art Smith. Dealers told me the show was "on track" (not as bad as last year, not as good as 2007). The show is known for oversized pieces decorators need for huge houses. There was a sectional mirrored centerpiece with eight attached candelabra and 16 figures of angels, each about 8 inches high, that was longer than my dining room table. It was marked "sold." Also an 8-foot-high concrete fountain, vases over 4 feet high, monstrous double beds with carved headboards too high to fit in my house, and a lace tablecloth with 24 matching napkins (about $50,000). One dealer was selling $30-$50 leather baby shoes, and another was offering Victorian skirt lifters (an accessory to lift long skirts up stairs and over puddles) and boxes of sterling silver spoons marked $10-$15, your choice. I saw plenty of glass and china of all sizes, from a 1-inch cameo vase to a 5-foot Asian vase. No toys, no advertising, very little Arts and Crafts. I'll write more about my own great buy and what I learned that relates to the average buyer in our newsletter and here in the weeks to come.


Last week's ezine drew more comments on our blog than we have seen recently. Some of you are concerned about the TV show "American Pickers." Many felt the pickers were wrong to pay so little for some things they bought from a veteran. Watch another episode or two and let us know how you feel. The show airs on the History Channel on Monday nights.

Also of concern to many of you: How to open a collectible Pepsi can if you plan to save it. Open it from the bottom, doing as little damage as possible, or let it stay full. The carbonated content will eventually escape and the can will be empty.


Coca-Cola Autumn Girl servingQ: I have a Coca-Cola tray with the picture of the Autumn Girl that is 19 x 8 1/2 inches. I can't find anything about this large Autumn Girl tray. Can you tell me when it was made and how much it is worth?

A: The Coca-Cola Autumn Girl serving tray was made in 1921 in the standard size, 13 1/4 by 10 1/2 inches. The girl on the tray is pictured from the waist up. Your tray was first issued in 1973 by Coca-Cola. The picture is a reproduction of the 1921 Autumn Girl calendar. Autumn Girl is sometimes called "Navy Girl." The old, original tray sells for about $850. Your tray is worth less than $30.


Noritake factory in Chikaramachi, Japan Q: My mother received this tea or luncheon set as a wedding gift in the late 1920s. It was never used but was always in our cupboard. We would appreciate any information about the dishes.

A: This crown and wreath mark was used by the Noritake factory on Chikaramachi Street in Nagoya, Japan. In 1876 Baron Ichizaemon Morimura and his brother founded Morimura Bros., a trading company, in Tokyo. In 1904 Morimura established a porcelain manufacturing company, Nippon Toki Gomei Kaisha, in Noritake, Japan. The company began exporting porcelain dinnerware in 1914. "Made in Japan" was used as part of the mark about 1908. The Chikaramachi crown mark was registered in 1928 and was used for several years. The company name became Noritake Co., Limited in 1981 and is still in business.


Legit KMP Mark
I spotted a lot of fake KPM plaques at the Miami Beach show. Someone is decorating plain old plaques with KPM-type portraits, then adding an incised KPM mark with a cutter.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


American Pickers
We haven't seen it, but we hear the new History Channel show, "American Pickers," is good television, especially for collectors. The two hosts, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, make their living searching for antiques and collectibles to resell to dealers. They are followed by a camera crew while they hunt, buy, and sell and throw in history and humor. Watch them find the place we all dream about--the barn chock full of stuff that hasnt been touched for years. We know from the days of our TV shows that it takes hard work, long hours, and dedication to survive a series. Watch this one if you can. The show will only go 10 episodes if there isnt enough interest. It debuted on Monday, Jan. 18.


Did you know that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will provide a government headstone for an eligible veteran's unmarked grave in any cemetery in the world? The headstone or marker is free, but some cemeteries charge a setting fee. Go to www.cem.va.gov/cem/hm-hm.asp.


Brown Eyed SusanQ: This is the creamer from a set of dishes my mother bought in Missouri sometime around the 1940s or 1950s. Any information about this charming dinnerware pattern?

A: Your mother's pattern is called Brown Eyed Susan. It was made by Vernon Kilns, a pottery company founded in 1931 in Vernon, California. Vernon Kilns made dinnerware and figurines until it went out of business in 1958. Brown Eyed Susan decoration was hand-painted and the pattern was used on a wide range of dinnerware and serving pieces. You can also find Brown Eyed Susan glassware, goblets, tumblers, and sherbets made by Imperial Glass Co. in the 1950s.


Duparquet, Huot & Moneuse CoQ: I inherited a set of copper pots about 1950 from a friend of my mother's who had a restaurant in New York City. I estimate them to be at least 100 years old. The large kettle and fry pan have this DH & M mark on the bottom. Can you tell me who made them and how old they are?

A: This D.H. & M. Co. mark was used by Duparquet, Huot & Moneuse Co., manufacturers of stoves and other equipment for restaurants, hotels, steamships, and homes. The company was founded in 1852 in New York City and had branches in Boston and Chicago. Elie Moneuse and L. Duparquet registered patents for tin-lined copper coffeepots in 1869. Duparquet, Huot & Moneuse Co. went bankrupt in 1936. Their Wooster Street address has been converted to loft condos in the fashionable Soho district of New York. Your pots would sell for about the same as any new quality pot.


Shirley TempleR.B., a reader, emailed to ask if removing the cereal from the Rice Krispies box we mentioned last week affects the value. It is important to remove any edible food stuff from any package you want to save. Insect eggs in grain products will eventually hatch, and tiny worms, then moths, will eat through the package. Outside insects and rodents will try to eat into the box, too. Carefully pry open the bottom of the box, remove the contents, then use a dab of paste to reseal the bottom. An undamaged box is worth just as much full or empty.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Shirley TempleTwo future collectibles are at your store now. The Kelloggs cereal boxes with a banner saying Immunity on the front of the box have been recalled. The government thought it did not support immunity so new boxes were made. Look for Cocoa Krispies and Rice Krispies. A few are still on grocery shelves. Also look for the Pepsi Throwback bottles with the yellow throwback banner. They are new, and being sold in limited markets. The content is made with real sugar, not the high fructose corn syrup used in the regular Pepsi now being sold. It was first tested in April, 2009 in a bottle with a blue label or a red, white and blue label with a circle as the center design. Dr Pepper is also trying a new formula using real sugar but so far we haven’t seen any of the new cans in our store. They are marked, “Made with Real Sugar”.

Chinese made children’s jewelry is barred from the U.S. again. This time it is because they used cadmium as the metal. It is dangerous, especially for children. Be sure you have not kept any of the last recalled Chinese jewelry that was made with lead paint. All of this will be rare in the future but hopefully never a popular collectible.

The Waterford Crystal factory building in Ireland is for sale. The glass making machinery is already gone. The brand and assets now belong to an American equity firm. Waterford started in Ireland in 1783.


Shirley TempleQ: I would appreciate any information about these two blue pitchers with the picture of Shirley Temple. We think they came in a box of oatmeal.

A: During the 1930s, General Mills commissioned the Hazel Atlas Glass Co. to produce a breakfast set with the picture and signature of Shirley Temple. A set consisted of a bowl, a mug and a 4 1/2-inch milk pitcher. They were made of cobalt blue honeycomb pattern glass with white decals of Shirley Temple. Some pieces were decorated with the picture of a very young Shirley, others used a picture of Shirley in her 1936 Captain January costume. The pieces were given away as premiums for Wheaties and Bisquick from 1934 to 1942. Hard to spot reproductions have been made. In good condition with an intact decal, original Shirley Temple milk pitchers are worth about $75.


Margaret TafoyaQ: I purchased a pot by the Indian artist, Margaret Tafoya, in 1991. It is 4 1/4 inches tall by 5 3/4 inches wide. At the time I was told the value was $7,200. Since then Margaret has passed away and I would like to know if the value of this piece has increased.

A: Margaret Tafoya (1904-2001) was born at Santa Clara Pueblo, near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her name in Tewa, the language of seven Southwestern pueblos, was Corn Blossom. Margaret learned to pot from her mother, Sara Fina Tafoya (1863-1949), and worked with her until she died. Margaret Tafoya's work is often decorated with bearpaw designs, the symbol of good luck. She is also known for deeply carved designs with the recessed areas in matte finish, the rest highly polished clay surfaces. Indian arts are currently commanding very high prices. The New York Times reported a gift shop sale of a Tafoya pot in 2005 for $19,500.


There is controversy about using leather dressing to preserve leather. It does look great when first used but collectors and dealers are now worried that eventually it darkens the leather and leaves it stiff or sticky. Get expert advice for treating leather.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


In spite of the economy, antiques can still be fun and could be profitable. Here are some collectibles that seem ready to go up in price over the next few years. So go to garage sales, flea markets, malls, and shops and look around. Even if you don't spend any money, the walking is good exercise and it's an inexpensive way to spend the day. Good luck--go find a treasure.
  1. Chinese and Japanese furniture from the nineteenth century, whether dark wood or lacquered, is down in price and not selling well at auction. If you like it, buy it.
  2. Carved wooden sculpture

    Carved wooden sculptures made after 1920 are now low-priced, but they're starting to sell at top auction houses. Look for works at least 12 inches high by known artists like Hans Hagenauer.

  3. Eighteenth-century Chippendale desks with dropdown fronts are very low-priced because they are not practical as computer desks. Some desks have an open area near the drawers in the dropdown section. It can store a laptop--a new idea that makes the desk usable again. Prices will go up.

  4. Enameled metal ashtrays, bowls, vases, and jewelry were very much in style in the 1950s. They were made with colorful, often abstract, decorations. Out of style until the 1990s, they are still low-priced. Buy pieces that are covered front and back with enamel. If a copper back shows, it was probably made by an amateur. Buy signed pieces for best resale value.

  5. Japanese Kaiju

    Japanese kaiju (meaning "strange beast" or "monster") toys have been the rage in Japan for over 25 years. (Think Godzilla.) Plastic and metal toys between 2 inches and several feet tall sell in Japan and in a few shops in other countries. Early kaiju toys are selling for hundreds of dollars. As interest grows, so will prices of newer toys--the way the prices of robot toys grew.

  6. Look for old, working electrical household goods like electric fans, toasters, typewriters, telephones, television sets, computers, and even early handheld electronic games. There are collectors for all of these, usually people who like to repair the items. Often the old item is of little value until repaired, but prices are in the hundreds of dollars for the right make and model in working condition.

  7. DIY works for antiques too. Dig your collection of bottles and it is bound to be profitable. Search attics, river beds, Grandma's house and garage sales for unrecognized treasures.

  8. Furnish your garden and patio with antiques--planters, statues, pieces of old buildings, old flower pots, tools, fences, and even birdhouses and birdbaths. Prices have been going up for large statues, fountains, and urns. Gardening is another way to join the movement of "going green." A collectors garden should always have extra space near plants for collectibles.

  9. Some things seem underpriced for no apparent reason: Glidden pottery, 1960s designer furniture made of metal, 1950s wooden costume jewelry, modern-design aluminum serving pieces.

  10. Buy what you love. There is the joke of the damn fool theory of collecting: "If I was damn fool enough to buy this, there must be another damn fool who will buy it from me.