Ladies’ fans serve many purposes

A quick look online for a collectible old fan will show electric fans made since the late 1800s. But some collectors want even older fans, the handheld folding fans that were being made by the 1700s. These fans were more than a fashion accessory – they were important indicators of the user’s status and good taste. There was even a “language of love” using the fan that let a lady flirt, ask men to come by to chat, or even hit an irritating person.

Folding fans were made with sticks of bone, ivory, bamboo, wood, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, lacquer, metal or more recently, plastic. They held a decorated cover of silk, paper, leather or canvas. Some had added jewels and artist-drawn oil or watercolor paintings. A talented fan painter was as important as an artist who created portraits or landscapes. Collectors in the 1950s searched for period fans and often mounted them in half-circle frames. Expensive fans of the past are hard to find in good condition. This painted paper fan with carved gilt sticks decorated with mother- of-pearl was offered for sale at a Neal auction.

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Q: My mother has my grandparents’ desk. It is kneehole style, with a curvy front, two drawers on each side and a drawer in the middle. The label on the back reads “Cherry and Maple/Atlas Furniture Co., Jamestown, New York.” What is it worth?

A: Atlas Furniture Co. was formed in 1883 as the Swedish Furniture Co. by Swedish immigrants Lawrence Erickson and Gustave Holmberg in Jamestown, New York. The name was changed to Atlas in 1871. Atlas advertised as “Manufacturers of Bedroom Furniture,” making “better” grades of bedroom furniture, including dressers, chiffoniers and toilet tables from walnut, mahogany and other woods. Atlas closed in 1941. Your desk would sell for $50 to $100.

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Q: I have a porcelain dish decorated with pink and yellow roses and leafy border. It has scalloped and beaded edges. The mark on the bottom is a star above “RS Prussia.” The letters are in red and there is a green wreath between “RS” and “Prussia.” Who made this dish, and how old is it?

A: This mark was used by the Reinhold Schlegelmilch Porcelain Factories. Schlegelmilch started his porcelain works in Suhl, Germany, in 1869. The company had a branch in Tillowitz and moved its operations to Tillowitz in 1932. This mark was used from the 1880s to 1917. The mark has been copied, and reproductions have been made.

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Q: I’m writing on behalf of the owner of 46 original Disney animation cels he wants to sell. Most are in frames, and a few are comics drawings. Most of the cels were purchased during the mid 1990s from Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

A: Early animation cels, original sketches, and painted drawings on celluloid used to make animated cartoons made by the Walt Disney Studios and other studios are popular with collectors. Modern animated cartoons are made using computer-generated pictures. Some of these are being produced as cels to be sold to collectors, but these are not popular with collectors. Early cels were hand-colored and are not mechanical copies. Your originals should be easy to sell, but prices are lower now than they were a few years ago. The owner should contact the auction houses he bought them from to see if they will sell them. If not, ask online or at shops that do sell them. Cels bring between $100 to $500 today. Cels with well-known figures like Donald Duck, and cels with studio backgrounds or authentic autographs, get the best prices.

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Q: I’d like to know something about a medal that pictures a classically dressed woman with a serpent entwined around her arms as she holds a bowl. The bowl reads “American Medical Association, Boston 1906” on the front and “The Whitehead & Hoag Co., Newark, N.J.” on the back. The medal is attached to a ring and hung on a green ribbon with gold letters that says “Guest, A.M.A.” What can you tell me about it?

A: This medal pictures Hygieia, the goddess of health, seated with her right hand holding a patera (shallow bowl). The bowl with an entwined serpent is the symbol of pharmacy. Whitehead & Hoag was founded by Benjamin Whitehead and Chester Hoag in 1892. The company had a lucrative business making medals and badges for organizations. It was sold to Bastian Bros. of Rochester, New York, in 1959. Although production ended, the Whitehead & Hoag trade name was kept until 1965. If you want to sell the medal, search online for a numismatic store, club, or auction near you.

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Tip: A signature on a piece of jewelry adds 30 percent to the value. Look at the pin shank, pinback and catch for the signature.

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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, New Ulm, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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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.

Caughley urn, soft paste, cobalt blue, leaves, square base, 1700s, 6 inches, pair, $75.

Star Wars bust, boba Fett, head tilted, arm out shooting, multicolor, 15 inches, $140.

Boch Freres vase, round, birds, flowers, multicolor, blue to white ground, Chas Catteau, 6 inches, $245.

Clarice Cliff biscuit jar, orange lily, paint, ceramic, metal handle, England, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, $315.

Satsuma censer, relief cord tassels, robed men supports, seated man finial, holds fan, 14 x 8 inches, $380.

Celadon umbrella jar, bamboo stalks, blue flowers, birds, Japan, 24 1/2 x 12 inches, $520.

Birdbath, birds, round basin, column support, pierced base, 34 x 21 inches, $585.

Louis Vuitton suitcase, monogrammed, brass hardware, tan leather, France, 16 1/4 x 27 3/4 inches, $1,200.

Dry sink, softwood, two doors, blue paint, cut bracket base, 30 1/2 x 42 inches, $1,600.

Cloisonne tray, rooster, hen, chick, blue to white ground, flower border, Chinese, 11 1/2 inches, $5,230.