Antiques & Collecting: Old storage boxes now treasured

Hand-decorated storage boxes were important for storage in the 18th century when there were few places, other than shelves, to store small personal items. Collectors today treasure the work of the Bucher family in Berks County, Pennsylvania, made from about 1750 to 1800. There are memorials with dates ranging from 1792 to 1876 with Heinrich, the father’s name.

Heinrich Bucher, and eventually his sons, made and sold bentwood boxes decorated with yellow, green, red and white trees, tulips and other foliage on a black background. The boxes sell today for thousands of dollars. This box sold in a Conestoga auction for $4,260 after 26 bids. It had been estimated at only $1,000.

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Q: We bought a four-piece dresser set at a consignment shop for $15. There is a powder box with a lid, a hair receiver, a small tray and a large tray. All four pieces seem to match. Three are marked “T & V Limoges, France.” One is only marked “A.L. Minaud.” There is a small chip on the edge of the powder jar lid. Can you tell me more about this set and an approximate value?

A: Your dresser set was made by Tressemanes & Vogt, a company in business in Limoges, France, from 1891 to 1907. Emilien Tressemanes and Gustave Vogt bought two small porcelain factories in 1891 and began making white porcelain for export to the United States. China painting was a popular hobby in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Amateur painters bought undecorated porcelain dishes and dresser sets and painted them with flowers or other designs. After Tressemanes retired in 1907, Vogt renamed the company Porcelaine Gustave Vogt. He sold the company to Martial Raynaud in 1919. A.L. Minaud is the artist’s name. Dresser sets can be found with a variety of pieces. In addition to the pieces you have, some sets include a hatpin holder, pillbox, trinket dish, small bowl, comb and brush, mirror or candleholder. Your four-piece dresser set might sell for $80 to $100 or more.

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Q: I’m trying to downsize so my children aren’t saddled with “things.” I’d like to sell a large, framed photo taken of my grandfather’s battalion at the Mexican border during the Spanish-American War. It pictures all the men, covered wagons, and a train in the background.

A: The Spanish-American War only lasted for 10 weeks, from April 21 to Aug. 13, 1898. It was fought between Spain and the United States, and took place during the Cuban War of Independence. Theodore Roosevelt, who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, resigned his position and joined the fight. He led his Rough Riders in the battle to capture San Juan Hill. Unless the photo pictures an important person or a unique event, it may be worth only a few dollars. Pictures of Roosevelt, African American troops, and the hanging of a prisoner of war have sold for a few hundred dollars. Contact a nearby auction house that sells photographs to see if there is any interest in your photograph.

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Q. My daughter just got her first apartment, and I found her four Corning Ware casserole dishes in different sizes and one glass lid in a resale shop. I looked up the decoration and learned it is the Pastel Bouquet floral pattern. I paid less than $10 for the whole lot. Is it collectible?

A. Corning Ware was first introduced in 1958 by Corning Glass Works. The company was sold and is now known as Corelle Brands. The most popular patterns of Corning Ware are Cornflower Blue, made from 1957 to 1988; and Spice of Life, made from 1972 to 1987. Your Pastel Bouquet pattern was made from 1985 to 1990. Most pieces in this pattern sell from $15 to $50 each. It’s too bad you only have one lid, but you got a good deal!

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TIP: Never store old paper collectibles and photographs in ordinary cardboard boxes or plastic bags. Buy the acid-free boxes and Mylar wrapping film that are approved for long-term storage. Many picture-framing and supply stores will have these items.


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