Antiques & Collecting: ‘Pile-O-Gold’ was popular gift with financiers
A paperweight that looks like a forgotten mound of gold coins is a vintage puzzle that has been solved. A pristine example was offered for sale recently with the original box. There is an inscribed leather patch on the bottom, and a small leaflet describing the coins and their history. The leather patch had a message: “Your friendship is more precious than gold.” The paperweight was made by the Johnson Bronze Company of New Castle, Pennsylvania. The weights were sold to companies who gave them to customers as gifts. They were very popular with banks, insurance agents, stock brokers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents and other companies that dealt with coins and money. The paperweight is called the “Pile-O-Gold,” and the coins picture presidents, captains of industry, scientists, inventors and engineers. Some of the coins have quotes, and all have the name and embossed head of the honored person, plus the name of the job that brought the person fame. A vintage example sold recently for about $50. We are told the pile of gold coins on a desk often fools visitors.
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Q: I would like some help with the value of an antique clock I inherited from my parents. It’s a walnut shelf clock with a Dutch hood and two small shelves on each side of the dial. The clock measures 33 by 25 inches and was made by Schlinker and Kienzle in Germany in, I’m told, the late 1800s. Is there a market for a clock like this? What might it sell for?
A: The company that made your clock was founded in 1822 by Johannes Schlenker (with an “e”) in Schwenningen, Germany. In 1883, Jakob Kienzle married into the Schlenker family, became a partner in the company and its name became Schlenker & Kienzle. After 1894, the company used standardized parts and perforated plates, an innovative idea at that time called the “American system.” The system reduced the weight and the costs of wall, mantel and alarm clocks. Jakob Kienzle became sole owner of the company in 1897, and the name was changed to Kienzle Uhrenfabrik (clock factory) early in the 1900s. The company continued to expand across Europe and still is in business; it is noted for its watches. Mantel clocks by Schlenker & Kienzle have sold at auction and on eBay from $50 to about $600.
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Q: I found some blue-and-white dinnerware among a relative’s things and many pieces are marked with a rectangle on the bottom that has “Blue Danube/Japan” inside. Can you tell me how old it is and how much, say, a cup and saucer or dinner plate is worth?
A: Blue Danube porcelain dinnerware was made exclusively for distribution by Lipper International Inc. of New York. Lipper started business in 1946 as Lipper & Mann, importers of glass and ceramics. The company bought items from Europe and sold them to department, jewelry and home-furnishing stores. In 1947, it started selling tableware items imported from Japan. The Blue Danube pattern was designed for them in 1951. Porcelain pieces were made in Japan with dark-blue flowers on white ground, copied from Meissen’s Onion pattern. Lipper used a banner backstamp on Blue Danube pieces from 1951 through 1976, a rectangular backstamp from 1977 to 2000, and a 50th-anniversary backstamp was used in 2001. The present mark has “Blue Danube” in scrollwork. In 1963, the name was changed to Lipper International, Inc. In 2004, Portmeirion USA took over distribution of Blue Danube dinnerware and giftware. A cup and saucer with the rectangular mark like yours sells for about $15, and dinner plates have sold from $9 to about $20.
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Q: A friend just told me that a 12 1/2-inch round wooden plate with a center “well” and nine smaller carved wells surrounding it is a gaming board — not an oyster plate like I thought. It is decorated with painted playing cards so that might be true. Any suggestions?
A: It can’t be an oyster plate. The food and the washing would destroy the painted cards and oyster plates usually have four to six wells. That is a generous portion for dinner. There is an old English card game called “Pope Joan” that uses a board like yours. It was known in the 16th century, and still is played today by three to eight players. The game was very popular with families in Victorian times and first recorded in the famous book of card and board game rules by Hoyle in 1814. The game uses the 52-card deck minus the eight of diamonds and making the nine of diamonds an important winning card. All antique game boards are selling well today, and a rare round wooden Pope Joan board sold at auction for a little over $1,000 a few years ago.
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Q: I have an old wooden ruler with “A Good Rule, Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You” printed on one side and “Compliments The Coca-Cola Bottling Co.” printed on the other side. Any information you could tell me about it would be greatly appreciated.
A: Rulers like yours were popular advertising and promotional items given out by Coca-Cola bottlers for years. From 1925 until the early 1960s, they were distributed to schools throughout the United States. Because they were made and given out in such large numbers, they are easily found and not very expensive — about $5 to $10.
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Tip: Ultrasonic cleaners are best for gold jewelry without stones. They should not be used wth porous gems, including coral, lapis, pearls or any dyed stones.
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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, The Journal of New Ulm, Kovels.com P.O. Box 23192, Beachwood, Ohio 44122.
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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
Tazza, bronze, gilt, center medallion, Roman profile, Roman bust support, neoclassical handles, 8 x 16 inches, $86.
Bust, terra-cotta, painted white, wavy hair, green shirt, blue tunic, italy, 1900s, 13 x 11 inches, $104.
Trunk, carriage, leather, embossed, steel straps, brass trim, hinged lid, Morley & Mason, 1800s, 17 x 26 inches, $147.
Roller organ, oak case, glass lid, ebonized base, crank handle, 12 1/2 x 18 inches, $266.
Coronation figurine, George VI, carriage, gilt, blue, horses, red saddle blankets, 1937, 20 inches, $295.
Chinese export, charger, famille verte, alternating reserves, birds, outdoor pavillions, 13 1/2 inches, $405.
Silver beaker, gilt, repousse, 3 reserves, house, field, fruit, flowers, ball feet, Germany, c. 1790, 3 1/2 inches, $461.
Linen press, white pine, applied molded cornice, two doors, eight drawers, 1800s, 82 x 68 inches, $1,107.
Urn, campana, rolled rim, egg and dart, fluted support, black, cast iron, 1800s, 20 x 19 inches, pair, $1,230.
Mid-century pottery, pitcher, goose, cream, black, blue, Pablo Picasso, 1954, 8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches, $10,000.
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