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Antiques & Collecting: Recent auction included modern pieces by Italian designer

A table has three or four or more legs and a flat top. But some modern designers can make furniture that is almost unrecognizable but still serve the same purpose. Cottone Auctions had a recent sale featuring a collection of modern furniture, including pieces by Gianfranco Frattini (1926-2004). He is best known as an Italian architect, but he designed unusual furniture for Cassina and modern lamps for many companies. He is considered an important member of the Italian design movement of the late 1950s and ’60s. The strange table pictured here is really a nest of four tables designed by Frattini in the 1960s. The group is fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. The four tables vary in height up to 15 inches. The hammer price for the set was $1,416. The tables were first made by Cassina in 1966, and early examples have sold for almost $4,000.

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Q. I have a bisque or porcelain bride and groom wedding cake topper that was used on my grandparents’ wedding cake. The bride is wearing a white dress with green sprigs on it. She has a wreath of pink roses on her head and is carrying a bouquet of pink roses. The groom is carrying his top hat in one hand and has his other arm linked through the bride’s arm. The bride figurine is hollow. The back of her skirt is embossed with the number “8942” above “Germany.” We’d like to know more about these figures.

A. Wedding cakes were topped with bells, doves, cupid, flowers and sometimes by glass domes in the 1890s. Bride and groom wedding cake toppers weren’t used until the 1900s. They became popular in the 1920s. It’s possible to date many of them from the style of the bride’s dress. You know how old your topper is because you know the date of your grandparents’ marriage, and cake toppers are almost always new. It’s not possible to determine the maker since there is no maker’s mark, just the model number and country of origin. We’ve seen bride and groom cake toppers with these marks selling for $40 or more.

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Q. We bought a New Haven eight-day jeweled mantel clock at an antiques shop several years ago. It has an old-fashioned-looking oval face and looks like it’s from the Victorian era. It’s not working now, but we’ve had it repaired several times in the past. Before we take it in for repairs again or remove the original inner workings, we’d like to know if it has any value and is worth fixing.

A. The New Haven Clock Co. was founded in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1853. The company made brass clock movements for Jerome Manufacturing Co. New Haven bought that company in 1856 and began making clocks. New Haven Clock Company went out of business in 1960. It made hundreds of different clocks. Some sell for less than $50, some for a few hundred or more. Whether or not to repair the clock depends on the cost of the repairs and how much you like the clock. A person who repairs clocks should be able to tell you what it might be worth if it’s in working order.

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Q. I have a tall, black, Chinese vase marked “Beswick Ware England Pekin.” I can’t find anything similar online. Do you have any information about this kind of vase?

A. James Beswick and his two sons started a pottery in Longton, Staffordshire, England, in 1894. The pottery became John Beswick Ltd. in 1936, and the company began using “Beswick Ware Made in England” as a mark. “Pekin” is the shape name. Beswick became part of Royal Doulton Tableware Ltd. in 1969. Production stopped in 2002. The John Beswick brand was bought by Dartington Crystal in 2004.

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Q. I’ve been a small-time collector for many years and have bar signs, signs with clocks, neon lights, beer cans and beer bottles (both full and empty), bar accessories, decanters, ceramic mugs, Barbie dolls, and more. Are there books or places where I can find prices for these?

A. Most advertising items and beer can and beer-related collectibles are sold in special auctions. Barbie dolls are popular collectibles, and there are auctions that specialize in selling them. Check online auction archives to see what items like yours have sold for. You can do research online to identify which version of Barbie you have. Some Barbie dolls sell for high prices at doll auctions, others sell online for just a few dollars. Beer cans and beer-related items are popular collectibles and sell quickly at auctions and shows. Check Breweriana auctions, collectors’ clubs and publications, like American Breweriana Association (AmericanBreweriana.org) and Brewery Collectibles Club of America (bcca.com).

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