Antiques & Collecting: Photography grew during the Civil War

By 1861, when the Civil War started, there were already several ways to take a picture. The first photos of a war were taken during the Mexican-American fight from 1846 to 1848. The Civil War (1861-1865) was the fourth. Matthew Brady was a determined photographer who collected his and other photographers’ war photos by buying negatives from others. Most of the pictures in museums today are part of the record saved by Brady, but not all were taken by him.

There are ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, albumen prints and a surprising number of stereo pictures of the war. Many were portraits of soldiers in uniform posing in a studio, but there are also many pictures of battlefields after a fight showing the dead. The portraits were framed and displayed just as we do today.

An unusual painted iron picture frame was offered in an Eldred auction with an estimated price of $500 to $1,000. It held two pictures, and the small glass circle at the top of the frame beneath an eagle was meant for a picture of President Lincoln. The large circle surrounded by American flags and a Union shield held the portrait of a soldier. The frame was marked as “design patented Nov. 25, 1862” and was probably made for years after that.

* * *

Q. When I was little, my mother sent away by mail for a Little Orphan Annie mug for me. It has a picture of Annie on the front saying, “Didja Ever Taste Anything So Good As Ovaltine? And It’s Good For Yuh, Too” and her dog, Sandy, on the back. I also have “Little Orphan Annie’s Song” sheet music. I’m 95 years old and don’t know anyone who wants these things. What I should do with them?

A. Harold Gray created the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” in 1924. The Little Orphan Annie radio series debuted in 1931. Ovaltine sponsored the show from 1931 to 1940 and offered several premiums. The sheet music, a 1931 Ovaltine premium, sells for $10-$35 depending on condition. This mug is from about 1932, sells online for $20 to $30. You can see if a local consignment shop will sell them, or just donate them to charity and take the tax deduction.

* * *

Q. Through the years I’ve added many pieces of Noritake’s Azalea china to the ones I inherited from my mother. I’m now 86 years old and trying to make plans for leaving my treasures to my children and grandchildren. Where is the best place to get current information as to the value of each piece? And what is the best procedure for selling pieces my children do not want?

A. Noritake is a Japanese company that began making dinnerware in 1904. The company is still in business. Azalea, the company’s most popular pattern, was made from 1918 to 1941 as a premium for Larkin Company, a soap manufacturer. You can get an idea of value by checking matching services and other online sites to see what pieces sell for. Azalea plates sell for less than $10, cups and saucers for under $3. Most sites that sell Azalea will also buy it, but at a third or half the price it sells for, since they have to make a profit. It’s usually not worth the cost of packing and shipping the china to the buyer. You can try selling it at a local consignment shop. It’s sometimes better to donate the pieces you don’t want to a local charity and take the tax deduction.

* * *

Q. I love my Precious Moments figurines, but I’m moving to smaller quarters. Are Precious Moments figurines selling for much?

A. Precious Moments figurines were inspired by artist and founder Samuel Butcher’s drawings of children with teardrop-shaped eyes. Butcher and a friend started a company that began selling inspirational greeting cards and posters featuring his artwork in 1975. Precious Moments figurines were first made by Enesco in limited editions in 1978. Since then many new figurines have been added and old ones retired. One of the 21 original figurines, “Love One Another,” is still being made. Interest in collecting limited edition figurines has declined and some Precious Moments figurines sell for less than $10. One of the most expensive Precious Moments figurines, “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver,” sells online for $200 to $300. The Precious Moments children are now used on baby clothes, children’s books, baby dishes, nursery decor and other items.

* * *

TIP: Marble will eventually react to rain and deteriorate. Keep marble ornaments out of the rain and frost.

* * *

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, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

* * *


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.

Jewelry, necklace & earrings, fruit salad beads, plastic, bananas, cherries, apples, pears, multicolor, marked, Austria, c. 1955, necklace 17 inches, $80.

Cut glass milk pitcher, Mirror Block pattern, Mt. Washington, oval, pinched neck, pattern cut handle, rayed base, American Brilliant Period, 7 1/2 inches, $200.

Toy, Batman Batzooka Pop Gun, plastic, scope sight, 4 targets, box with Batman, Riddler & Joker graphics, Lone Star, 1966, 16 inches, $390.

Doll, Vogue, Marge, Ginny Series, plastic, auburn hair, pink dress with appliqued flowers, faux fur coat, tam & muff, 1952, 8 inches, $490.

Furniture, corner cupboard, Chippendale, pine, stained, dentil molded cornice, 2 arched glazed doors over 2 paneled doors, Pennsylvania, c. 1780, 103 x 72 inches, $770.

Sampler, house, urn with flowers, 4-line verse, family initials, Matilda Willits, Wrought in Her 16th Year 1822, silk on linen, 13 x 13 inches, $1,375.

Van Briggle pottery vase, mottled green glaze, stylized leaves forming arches in between, slightly tapered shape, incised AA Van Briggle, CO, 1905, 7 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches, $1,430.

Advertising sign, We Use Genuine Chevrolet Auto Parts, bow tie logo, 2-sided flange, tin, yellow, black, red, 19 x 18 inches, $2,160.

Sterling silver sugar tongs, bright cut, shell pinchers, engraved JNP in oval cartouche, marked with incomplete stamp for Samuel Drowne II, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, c. 1790, 6 3/8 inches, $4,690.

Political, license plate, No. 1, Dist. Of Columbia, 1-31-57, 1957 Presidential Inaugural, jugate, Dwight Eisenhower & Richard Nixon, issued to Eisenhower, metal, 6 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches, $7,995.

* * *

“Kovels’ A Diary: How to Sell, Settle and Profit from a Collector’s Estate” is a step-by-step guide on what to do when settling an estate — from gathering legal papers to dividing antiques among heirs and selling everything else, even the house, as well as how to identify popular collectibles. Find tips on where and how to sell furniture, jewelry, dishes, figurines, record albums, bikes and even clothes. We explain the advantages of a house sale, auction, selling to a dealer or donating to a charity. Learn how to handle the special problems of security and theft. Plus, a free current supplement with useful websites, auction lists and other current information is included. Available only from Kovels for $19.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996; online at Kovels.com; or write to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122. Visit us at Kovels.com.

©2020 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today