Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of Aug. 2, 2010

A bow-shape pin and working watch that are enameled and set with diamonds sold for $863 at a Cottone auction in Geneseo, N.Y. It is marked "J. Laforge Besacon."

A bow-shape pin and working watch that are enameled and set with diamonds sold for $863 at a Cottone auction in Geneseo, N.Y. It is marked "J. Laforge Besacon."

First came the church-tower clock to help everyone in town know the time. Then in the 1500s, a watch on a chain or a ribbon was used by the very rich. By 1700, women could have a watch pinned to a dress as part of a chatelaine that held keys, scissors and other household tools. Later came the traveling clock, then the pocket watch. In the early 1900s, the first watches with a matching pin were made to wear on a lady’s lapel. In 1915 the lapel watch was improved — the watch face was upside down so the wearer could read it more easily. During World War I, the wristwatch was created for soldiers, and by the 1920s the wristwatch was the most popular timepiece to wear. Today, many have given up the wristwatch and rely on a cell phone to tell time. But attractive lapel watches — especially those with enamel finish and matching fleur-de-lis or bow pins — and wristwatches that look like gold or jeweled bracelets sell well. The very best of the brand name watches, like Rolex or Patek Philippe, and those with features that tell more than time sell for extremely high prices.

Q: Could you please tell me what the three-piece oak bedroom suite I bought in 1970 is worth? The pieces have pressed trim, wooden casters and beautiful hardware. Two marks are stenciled on the back. One says, “Fitted with Watson’s Improved Case Construction, Patented Dec. (illegible).” The other says, “Pioneer Furniture Company, Chamber Suits, Wardrobes, Chiffoniers, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.”

A: The Pioneer Furniture Co. once stood in what is now Phoenix Park in Eau Claire. The company made reproductions of old styles of bedroom suites. It was in business from at least the late 1800s until 1930, when a tornado destroyed much of the factory. The mark about Watson’s case construction relates to an 1896 patent granted to William H. Watson, also of Eau Claire. The patent was for a method of constructing case furniture that prevented damage by pests and dust. So, your bedroom set dates from after 1896. The value of the set depends on its quality, style and condition. It could be worth a few hundred dollars or more than $1,000.

Q: I have a tea set made by Camark Pottery. I’m trying to find some information about the company. Can you help?

A: Camark started out in 1926 as Camden Art Tile and Pottery Co. It was established on land donated by the Camden Chamber of Commerce in Camden, Ark. By the end of the year, the company name had been changed to “Camark,” a contraction of “Camden” and “Arkansas.” Production of hand-thrown pottery began in 1927. Vases, planters, figurines and other decorative objects were made. Cast and molded pottery was mass-produced beginning in 1933. Mary Daniel bought the company in the early 1960s. Production ended in 1983.

Q: I was involved in planning the 1998 centennial celebration for my hometown, Titonka, Iowa. One of the century-old souvenirs that turned up was a 6-inch glass hatchet with a clear handle and ruby blade. The glass is inscribed “Souvenir of Titonka.” We think the hatchet was made sometime during the first 10 years of Titonka’s founding. When we displayed the hatchet at our centennial antique exhibit, area residents started bringing in similar pieces that were souvenirs of other Midwestern towns. Can you tell us who made it, why it was used as a souvenir by various towns and what it’s worth?

A: Pressed-glass hatchets, a symbol of “taming” the West, were made as souvenirs for several American towns and celebrations around the turn of the 20th century. Some were made as souvenirs for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Although other glassmakers may have been involved in manufacturing these hatchets, the majority of them were produced by the Libbey Glass Co., which moved from Cambridge, Mass., to Toledo, Ohio, in 1888. Souvenir glass hatchets like your city’s sell for about $20. Those from the World’s Fairs sell for more.

Tip: Cover the nose of your hammer with a piece of felt to protect the wall when you are putting up picture hooks. If the wall is smooth, some of the new stick-on hooks might work.

Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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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.

  • Louis Vuitton soft-sided fold-over garment bag, leather hardware straps, brass, zip-and-buckle closure, LV logo, 17 x 23 x 10 inches closed, $255.
  • J.D. Kestner & Co. child doll, No. 171, bisque socket head, blue sleep eyes, open mouth with upper teeth, blond mohair wig, white cotton lace gown, circa 1900, 16 inches, $260.
  • Fulper vase, mauve Wisteria glaze, curdled texture, marked, circa 1916, 9 3/4 inches, $410.
  • St. Louis Beef Canning Co. sign, lithographed paper, “Cooked Corned Beef,” image of man being served by black servant, red border, 14 3/4 x 12 x 11 inches, $770.
  • Goofy Walking Gardener toy, tin lithograph, pushing wheelbarrow, windup, Marx, 1948, original box, 8 1/2 inches, $860.
  • Plow plane, rosewood body and fence, boxwood arms, nuts and wedge, Lamb and Brownell, 1800s, $960.
  • Silver-plated napkin ring, applied fireman’s hat, Pairpoint Manufacturing Co., circa 1865, $1,555.
  • Pressed-glass nappy, electric blue, shallow, 31-point rim, 40-point star in base, hexagonal stem, dome base, New England, 1850-60, 5 3/4 x 7 inches, $2,645.
  • 1920 Indian bicycle, original brass electric headlight, Klaxton horn, brass tire pump, dark red, older restoration, $2,875.
  • Appliqued and embroidered bachelor’s quilt, 25 floral and geometric blocks, red dividers, made for John Glendy Stuart by his fiancee, Isabel Windsor, circa 1839, 99 x 97 inches, $6,435.

Kovels’ American Antiques, 1750-1900 by Ralph and Terry Kovel is the book that introduces you to the collected antiques from past centuries. Learn about American antiques, from art pottery and old advertising signs to rare silver. Written to help you recognize and evaluate the valuable items of Grandma’s day. Hundreds of color photographs, marks, makers, dates, factory histories and more. Chapters on pottery, glass, furniture, silver, advertising collectibles, prints, jewelry, pewter, tools and ephemera. An easy-to-use book with current information. Available at your bookstore; online at Kovels.com; by phone at 800-571-1555; or send $24.95 plus $4.95 postage to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

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