Antiques & Collecting: How to serve caviar like the Rockefellers
You probably won’t find a blue cut-to-clear glass caviar server like this one that just sold for $2,318 at a recent Neal Auction in New Orleans, but you might want to serve caviar the right way for a party. The event will be the talk of the town.
Here’s the proper Victorian way. Serve the caviar (tiny fish eggs) in a chilled double bowl, a large bowl filled with ice chips holding a smaller bowl filled with the caviar. And yes, you must have a correct silver caviar spoon. The expensive eggs are served in very small portions on a blini, a small Russian buckwheat pancake that is topped with creme fraise or sour cream then rolled to be held like a taco. Or you can make toast points (triangular pieces cut from a slice of bread) and top with a slice of hard-boiled egg and caviar with a wedge of lemon to be squeezed for juice on top.
Do not ever cook caviar. But you can top soup with a little bit. Serve with vodka or champagne. The fancy service is part of the charm, so find two suitable antique glass bowls and impress your party friends.
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Q. I’m moving and would like to sell 200 pieces of McCoy pottery, in any way possible. Could you suggest any avenues to facilitate selling off my collection?
A. A large collection like this should sell best as a group. There may be some rare high-priced pieces as well as more common low-priced pieces. If you try to sell them separately, you might have trouble selling the low-priced pottery. You can look for auctions that have sold McCoy pottery recently and see if they will sell the entire collection for you. Be sure to find out what the seller’s fees are. The McCoy Pottery Collectors Society (mccoypotterycollectorssociety.org) might have information about places that have major sales of McCoy pottery.
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Q. I want to sell my mother’s doll. It is marked “A.W.” on the back of the head, and “A.W./W./special” on its hip. The doll has long brown hair, brown eyes that open and close, and a slight smile showing four tiny teeth. The head and body are different materials, and the longer I have it, the more the body deteriorates. Can you give me any information or an approximate value?
A. The Gottlob Schafft doll factory was founded in 1851 in Waltershausen, Thuringia, Germany, to make papier-mache dolls. Adolf Wislizenus joined the company about 1870 and was sole owner by 1878, when he changed the company’s name. Wislizenus made dolls with wax heads in the late 1870s and early 1880s, then used bisque heads made by other German doll companies. After 1894, the company made jointed doll bodies. The company operated until 1931. Your doll was made by Adolf Wislizenus about 1910. Her head is bisque. The body is composition (a mixture of sawdust, glue and resin that was painted and varnished) with wooden inserts in the joints. Composition tends to craze or form cracks over time. Light crazing can be acceptable to collectors, but it will decrease a doll’s value. In good condition, Wislizenus dolls have auctioned for $100 to $350. In restored condition, one could sell for about $500.
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Q. My grandfather, born in 1868, had a set of heavy metal bookends with Dante’s profile on one and Homer’s profile on the other. The profiles are gold color, raised and in a circle with laurel leaves below. The bookends look like the front of a building with steps up the middle and pillars on either side. Are these of any value?
A. These bookends were made by Bradley & Hubbard, a company that started in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1854. The company made many cast iron bookends, andirons, clocks, lamps, sewing machines and other items. The company name became Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company in 1875. Charles Parker Company bought the firm in 1940. There is no mention of Bradley & Hubbard after the 1950s. Homer, a Greek poet, and Dante, an Italian poet, were pictured on two different sets of Bradley & Hubbard bookends. Your bookends that include the classical building features sell for $100 to $150.
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Q. I’d like to know how old my upright grand piano is. It says “Adam Schaaf Chicago” under the large front compartment of the piano, and the number “5103” is on the back of the piano. I bought it at an estate auction 10 years ago and it’s in near mint condition. Can you tell me when it was made?
A. Adam Schaaf immigrated from England in 1869. He started selling pianos out of his home in Chicago in 1873. He moved his business to a factory in 1879. Although he sold pianos with his name on them, he did not build pianos at that time. (Pianos that are sold with a name stenciled on the front that isn’t the name of the actual manufacturer are called “stencil pianos.”) Adam Schaaf began making pianos later, and the factory was producing 30 pianos a week in 1894. The company made grand pianos, upright pianos, player pianos and reproducing pianos under its own name, but also made pianos under other brand names. Schaaf’s three sons took over the business in the early 1920s. It survived strikes and fires, but business declined during the Depression. The company was in business until at least 1934. The number on your piano indicates it was made between 1890 and 1895. Some Adam Schaaf upright grand pianos sell for over $10,000 depending on condition. It needs to be seen by an expert to determine the value.
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TIP: Some repairs make the sale of an antique very difficult and lower the price. Don’t buff pewter. Don’t wash ivory. Don’t repaint old toys. Don’t tape old paper. Don’t wash oil paintings.
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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.
KPM plaque, Prussian royalty, jeweled crown, gold dress, lace shoulders, fur cape, porcelain, 8 1/2 x 7 inches, $310.
Teplitz vase, climbing squirrels, berries, leaves, porcelain, Eduard Stellmacher & Co., 19 x 12 inches, $340.
Sugar caster, silver, relief scrolls, finial, monogram, William Hutton & Sons, England, 9 x 3 inches, $750.
Stoneware pitcher, cobalt blue tulips, leaves, tooled neck and body, flared base, 10 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches, $1,125.
Art pottery vase, reclining nudes, leaves, grapes, glazed earthenware, Rene Buthaud, 1920s, 11 1/2 x 8 inches, $3,000.
Garden lounge, wire frame, white, cushion, Richard Schultz, Knoll, 1960s, $4,550.
Tiffany Studios lamp, Zodiac, 1-light, turtleback tiles, gilt bronze, stamped, 1920s, 14 x 10 1/2 inches, $5,940.
Daum pate de verre vase, Amaryllis, blue to green to yellow, trumpet shape, 24 x 12 inches, $7,820.
Wristwatch, Patek Philippe Calatrava, 18K gold, porcelain dial, eel skin band, Germany, $8,100.
German bisque doll, boy, painted blond hair, papier-mache, ball jointed body, 17 inches, $11,685.
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