Antiques & Collecting: Look for surprises in your collections
History repeats itself, and collectors who research their collections are often surprised by the findings.
In 1892, a group of businessmen in Greentown, Indiana, invested in a company that was brought in by the newly found fuel — natural gas — that had been discovered there. Two years later, the Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Company had attracted workers and changed the economy of the small town. The company joined the National Glass Company in 1899, and they made many types of colored glass that are popular but scarce today.
The company was making pressed glass in colors when Jacob Rosenthal arrived in 1900. He was an experienced glass maker. The first new product was chocolate glass, an opaque brown and white glass that was a huge success. Next was an opaque medium green color called Nile green, then golden agate, rose agate, holly amber, milk glass and Vaseline glass.
Unfortunately, in 1903 there was a fire. The entire factory was destroyed and never rebuilt. But pieces like this Nile green tumbler attract collectors. This 4-inch-high tumbler sold at a Jeffrey Evans auction for $888.
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Q: Several years ago, my grandmother gave me 12 teaspoons with a note that they were given to my great-grandmother for a wedding gift. They’re marked “Justis & Armiger.” The word “Sterling” is upside down on five of them. Does that add value? I’m thinking of selling them and would like to know their value.
A: Justis & Armiger was in business in Baltimore, Maryland, from 1876 to 1892. The company made plated and solid silver. The upside-down “sterling” mark does not add value. The value of sterling silver spoons is at least the value of the silver they contain — that is, the meltdown value of silver throughout the trading day. You can check the current value per ounce online.
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Q: Would you tell me something about this tea set I inherited from my mom. It’s marked “Hand-Painted” and “Gray’s Pottery.” I believe she purchased it in an antiques store in North Carolina or Virginia. Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.
A: Gray’s Pottery was started in 1907 by Albert Edward Gray (1871-1959) in Stoke-on-Trent, England. The pottery often carried a backstamp that included the phrase “Hand-painted.” Gray’s made undecorated pottery, so-called white ware, from various suppliers and also used in-house designers. By the 1950s, hand-painting was rapidly disappearing. Your set was painted by Gray designer Susie Cooper (1902-1995), who started at the company in 1922 and left in October 1929 to start her own business, Susie Cooper Pottery Ltd. In 1959, Susan Cooper-Willis, daughter of the founder of Portmeirion Pottery, bought the company. The name was changed to Portmeirion and is still in Stoke-on-Trent. A Gray’s lusterware creamer and sugar set with a matching tray in the identical pattern with a white background, pink flowers and green leaves recently sold for $24.
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Q: I think an antique snuffbox that has been passed down in my family is from the late 1700s. It was made by the Battersea Enamel Factory. The word “Wrestling” is written on the lid, and it pictures two men wrestling while a crowd of spectators stands nearby. The copper hinge has degraded, but the lid stays on the box. How rare is Battersea and roughly what is it worth?
A: Battersea enamels were originally made in the Battersea district of London from about 1750 to 1756. Early snuffboxes were hand painted. Battersea developed the process of transfer printing decorations on copper. Many similar enamel boxes were made in other towns and are mistakenly called Battersea. New “Battersea” type boxes have been made since 1960. Snuffboxes were in fashion for both men and women from the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries before cigarettes became available. They were popular gifts for that special someone and are collected now. Old Battersea boxes in good condition sell for hundreds of dollars. A different “wrestling” box was offered for sale at $695 recently.
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Q: I’d like some information on my cow picture by Hugo Fisher. My grandparents left it to me. I’m 76 years old and I remember my grandparents in my house. The cows are in a river drinking water. It’s in the original wood frame. Can you tell me anything about it?
A: Hugo Anton Fisher (1854-1916) was born in Kladno, Bohemia (now Czech Republic). He immigrated to New York in 1874 and moved to Alameda, California, in 1886. Fisher is known for his landscape paintings in watercolor and oils. He’s made more than one painting of cows drinking by the water and your painting would have to be seen to be evaluated. A 10- by 15-inch oil painting sells for $400 or more; watercolors are about $150. Large oils sell for thousands.
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TIP: Never allow water to evaporate in a glass vase. It will leave a white residue that may be impossible to remove.
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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.
Bohemian glass bowl, amethyst iridescent, veining pattern, red interior, scalloped rim, polished pontil base, Pallme-Koenig, 2 by 6 inches, $50.
Mt. Washington salt & pepper shakers, yellow, multicolor flowers, fig shape, 2 3/4 inches, pair, $105.
Advertising sign, “Eat Honey, Feel Better, Live Longer,” image of a bee, tin, yellow letters, black ground, 1930s, 4 by 11 inches, $215.
Wristwatch, Raymond Weil, Parsifal, stainless steel, bicolor gold, Roman numerals, date window, 34 mm dial, $340.
Weller pottery Sicardo vase, puffy 5-point star, green & blue iridescent glaze, c.1905, 1 1/2 by 5 inches, $420.
Gentleman’s chest, midcentury modern, walnut, 2 cupboard doors, fitted shelves, 4 drawers, tapered legs, Drexel, 47 by 42 inches, $575.
Doll, fashion, bisque head, brown glass eyes, upswept Gibson Girl style hair, lady body, Edwardian style white gauze gown, Simon & Halbig, Germany, 22 inches, $820.
Betty Boop toy, whirligig, round, celluloid, 2 metal bells, Japan, 1930s, 10 3/4 inches, $1,845.
Compact, sterling silver, fluted top & sides, diamonds, rose gold clasp with 4 blue sapphires, art deco, Boucheron, 5 by 3 1/2 inches, $2,250.
Bitters bottle, Highland Bitters and Scotch Tonic, barrel form with horizontal ribs, golden amber glass, flattened lip, Tennessee, 1865-1875, 9 3/8 inches, $4,800.
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