Antiques & Collecting: Is it pottery or porcelain?

By Terry and Kim Kovel

Experts can identify antique dishes in many unexpected ways. There are several ways to tell if a dish is pottery or porcelain. If your dish is chipped porcelain, the chip is shell-shaped. Pottery is opaque; light does shine through a piece of porcelain. Pottery breaks in a line. Porcelain is thinner, lighter and more stain-resistant. If you hold a pottery plate in one hand and a porcelain plate in the other, you will find the porcelain is colder and the pottery is heavier.

If you are examining a teapot, look inside at the holes leading into the spout. An early pot has few holes, as few as three. Later teapots have many more holes. Cups with no handles are usually older than those with handles. The 19th-century cup had handles. Early teacups usually had no handles because the Chinese drank warm, not hot, tea and did not need a handle. Our favorite tip is an old one. One of the favorite collectibles in the 1950s was early Worcester porcelain made in England in the 18th century. When you hold a Worcester porcelain plate up to a strong light, the white china appears to be light green.

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Q. I have a Prizer Oak 519 antique stove, and I would like to know if you have any information about it, such as where and when it was made. I am trying to put a price to it to sell.

A. The Prizer-Painter Stove and Heater Co. was founded in 1880 in Reading, Pennsylvania. The company made coal ranges, water heaters, furnaces and heating stoves. The height of stove-making efficiency and design was the turn of the 20th century. Thousands of stove foundries made “oak” and other types of stoves in many sizes and designs. Many can still be found today.

The industry declined in the 1920s when central heating became more widespread. Prizer continued to manufacture quality cooking ranges under the Prizer label and for other high-end brands. Since 2002, it has been making restaurant-quality ovens, ranges and range hoods for the residential market under the Blue Star brand name. Your Prizer Oak model is a parlor stove, meant to heat the room. In good but not restored condition, it is worth about $200 to $300.

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Q. I’d like information about an ivory bracelet, earrings and charm set my uncle brought home to my mother in 1940 from the war. The bracelet has carved flowers linked together by elastic to stretch for your wrist. I’ve taken it a few places, but no one seems to know what it’s worth. Or, they tell me it can’t be sold at all. Help!

A. Laws banning the sale of ivory went into effect in the U.S. in 2016 as part of endangered species legislation to protect elephants, making it difficult to sell ivory legally. Laws about the sale of elephant ivory differ by state. In some states, you can sell ivory within your state if you have specific documentation to prove it was lawfully imported before 1990. Other states prohibit any sales of ivory, old or new. You can find current information on the sale of ivory on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website, fws.gov, and any company selling old ivory jewelry will know the rules.


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