Antiques & Collecting: Mermaids have fascinated us since Babylonian era
Mermaids and mermen have been “seen” and pictured since the Babylonian era. In past centuries, Greece, Japan, Ireland, Russia and Scotland have believed in local mermaids. There have been exhibits of mermaid skeletons; the 1837 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, “The Little Mermaid”; the 1989 Disney movie adaptation of “The Little Mermaid” starring Ariel; and a fake documentary on television in 2012.
In the 19th century, mermaids were part beautiful long-haired women and part fish, with a fish tail instead of legs. Collectors look for stories and art about mermaids and other legendary creatures like elves, the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness monster.
A hanging lamp from the 19th century with a carved mermaid, dressed in fashionable clothing and a feathered hat, was auctioned recently by Garth’s. She was holding two light fixtures with glass shades. The fixture, suspended on three decorated chains, sold for $1,500.
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Q: How do I let collectors know I have the entire original set of Franciscan Desert Rose dinnerware set for sale?
A: Franciscan dinnerware was introduced in 1934 by Gladding, McBean and Co. of Los Angeles, California. Desert Rose, the second pattern in the line, was introduced in 1941 and became one of the most popular Franciscan patterns. The company was sold to Wedgwood in 1979. After the plant in the United States closed in 1984, Desert Rose was made in England and Portugal. Production shifted to China in 2004. Desert Rose was discontinued in 2013. Desert Rose dishes made in the United States or England sell for more than dishes made in China because the pattern is raised higher and the paint is better. Sets of dishes are hard to sell. If you sell them online, you have to pack and ship them. It’s earlier to sell them locally if you can. Look for dealers who sell dishes at a local antiques mall; they might be interested in buying the dishes. Online prices show the difference in value. A 5-piece place setting made in the U.S. is $79.95; made in England $65.95; and made in China $28.99.
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Q: I recently inherited my great aunt’s silver tea service and tray. She was married in 1910. The silver has been worn down so much that it’s no longer usable and the insides of the coffee and tea urns are black. I tried using Alka-Seltzer to clean the inside, but it didn’t do anything. I’d love to have the pieces replated and put back into usable condition, but don’t want to lose the details in the process. Is it worth it to have them replated?
A: Replating the silver will not cause it to lose the details, but it is expensive. Before you decide to have the tea service replated, try using silver polish and vigorously rubbing it on. The polish won’t clean where there isn’t any silver, and it will show what needs to be replated. Look for someone in your area who does silver plating and ask if he or she has sales when prices are marked down. The replater should also be able to clean the inside of the urns.
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Q: I’d like to sell my collection of Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grondahl limited-edition plates. I’ve tried several antiques dealers here, and no one is interested. Can you tell me where I can try to sell them? I have about 110 plates, many first editions, and most in boxes.
A: Limited-edition plates were popular in the 1970s and for several years after. There were clubs, publications and conventions for collectors. Some collectors tried to get every plate in a series; some wanted only first editions. Limited-edition plates are hard to sell today, especially if the paperwork and original box are missing. You can try contacting sites that list the plates for sale, but you have to pack them up and ship them, and you’ll get only a percentage of what they can sell them for. Sites that sell limited-edition replacements pay about a third of their selling price. Since dealers in your area aren’t interested in them, you might want to donate them to a charity and take the tax deduction.
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Q: I have two Cabbage Patch Kids dolls from 1985 that I would like to sell. Both have “birth certificates,” “adoption papers” and their original clothes. Would you let me know what they are worth?
A: Cabbage Patch dolls were first made in 1977 by a 21-year-old art student named Xavier Roberts of Helen, Georgia. He called them “Little People Originals” and sold them at craft shows across the South. In 1982, toy manufacturer Coleco Industries became the licensed manufacturer, and the name was changed to Cabbage Patch Kids. The fad had faded by about 1986. In 1987, Coleco introduced a “talking” Cabbage Patch Kid doll as a last-ditch effort to renew interest, but the company went bankrupt in the late 1980s. Cabbage Patch Kids dolls sell in online shops from $10 to about $25. Dolls in original packaging with their adoption papers sell for about $50. Some very rare dolls sell for more.
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Tip: Buy a paint-by-number kit to get an inexpensive assortment of paint colors to use for touch-ups and restorations for paintings and furniture.
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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.
Sandwich glass, dish, Pekinese dog lid, opaque white, 1880, 4 inches, $60.
L.G. Wright pitcher, blue opalescent, flared, crimped rim, reeded handle, 1900s, 9 inches, $80.
Navajo Indian pipe, stag horn bowl and mouthpiece, leather and beaded shaft, 13 inches, $120.
Nippon vase, nasturtiums, painted, gold moriage, Art Nouveau, early 1900s, 8 1/2 inches, $120.
Lacquer, figurine, Ebisu, patron of fisherman, lacquerware and ivory, S. Getsuko, box, late 1800s, 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, $250.
Celadon vase, Longquan, lappets, peony blossom, swirling vines, Chinese, 1800s, 9 3/4 inches, $265.
Fenton, epergne, 4 branch, opalescent, vaseline glass, molded, clear, ruffled rims, 17 x 12 inches, $300.
Nautical, compass, brass, engraved, fleur-de-lis, case, W.T. Gregg, 1800s, 7 1/4 x 15 3/4 inches, $470.
Pedestal, cityscape, chrome-plated steel, brass, signed, Paul Evans, 48 1/4 x 15 1/4 x 15 inches, $1,970.
Pocket watch, 18-karat gold dial, gilt hands, cherubs, flowers, Tobias of Liverpool, Fusee gold key, 1850, 1 17/20 inches, $2,815.