Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of June 8, 2009

This 7 1/4-inch blown glass vase sold for $152 at DuMouchelles in Detroit this spring. It's made of mottled blue-to-green glass with gold flecks. The unsigned Monart vase was made at the North British Glassworks of Perth, Scotland.

This 7 1/4-inch blown glass vase sold for $152 at DuMouchelles in Detroit this spring. It’s made of mottled blue-to-green glass with gold flecks. The unsigned Monart vase was made at the North British Glassworks of Perth, Scotland.

Twentieth-century art glass is attracting adventurous buyers who search for relatively unknown European pieces. Because most of this glass is unmarked or marked with a handwritten name or a paper label, it requires study. John Moncrieff started the North British Glassworks in Perth, Scotland, in 1865. He made industrial glass, bottles, tubing and glass for lamps. During World War I, he developed a heat-resistant glass later sold as “Monax glass.” In 1924 his glassworks began to make art glass. It was called “Monart,” a tradename that combined the names “Moncrieff” and “Ysart,” the last name of a family of glassblowers at the factory. One of factory’s designers was Isobel Moncrieff, the wife of John Jr. Most Monart pieces were free-blown. They included everything from bowls and vases to ink bottles and table lamps. Pieces were produced in many colors, some with metallic flecks. Clear glass pieces were made with additions of colored enamels that created intense shades. Bubbly art glass was introduced in the 1930s. Monart was produced until about 1961. The glassworks went through many changes of management and in 1980 was taken over by Stuart & Sons. Art glass pieces sell for bargain prices today. A 7 1/4-inch mottled glass vase sold this spring at DuMouchelles Art Galleries in Detroit for only $152. It looks like the American Cluthra glass made by Steuben.

Q: I have a pair of silver candlesticks marked “Continental Silver.” Does this mean they’re really continental silver? How should they be cleaned?

A: If by “Continental Silver” you mean silver made on the European continent, the answer is no. European silversmiths did not mark their work “Continental Silver.” However, an American firm marked pieces with its name, “Continental Silver Co.” That’s probably the maker of your candlesticks. Continental Silver Co. was in business from about 1920 to 1950. It made plated silver hollowware, including candlesticks. Your candlesticks can be cleaned with any commercial silver polish, but they may not look as bright as sterling silver candlesticks.

Q: I bought a mailbox at an antique shop 20 years ago. The name “Orr, Painter & Co., Reading, Pa.,” is impressed on the front. The box is fixed onto a post. Can you tell me anything about the history of the company?

A: Orr, Painter & Co. made iron parlor stoves, furnaces, fire grates and hollowware beginning about 1885. The company started making mailboxes in the late 1880s. Your mailbox could be mounted on a post or on the side of a building. It had a lock that was opened when the mailman picked up the mail. Orr, Painter & Co. was in business until 1935, but some of its mailboxes were still in use in the 1960s. Old mailboxes used by the post office sell for about $40 if they’re white metal, $300 if brass.

Q: I have a set of dishes I purchased from Sears 50 years ago. They’re white with a pink rose and rosebud in the center. The mark on the back reads, “Harmony House, Catalina, Melmac.” Does my set have any collectible value?

A: Sears introduced its Harmony House brand in 1940. It included household items made by several manufacturers in colors that coordinated to make decorating easier. The first melamine (molded or thermoset plastic, also known as Melmac) dinnerware sold under the Harmony House brand was introduced in 1953. The line was called “Talk of the Town.” “Catalina” is a heavyweight plastic dinnerware line introduced in 1955. It was made by Plastic Masters Co. of New Buffalo, Mich. Plates are rimless and some pieces are squared. The line was sold in four solid colors. Patterned Catalina pieces were introduced in 1957. Melamine dinnerware was popular, colorful, affordable and durable, but it began to lose its appeal in the 1960s, probably because it scratched easily. The Catalina line was discontinued by 1961. Vintage plastic dinnerware in good condition is a popular collectible. Sets of Harmony House plastic dinnerware sell for $50 to about $200.

Q: I recently bought a chair that has a mark on the bottom that says, “Gardner & Co., NY patent.” The seat and back are made from one piece of plywood that has holes drilled in it. The holes on the back form the masonic symbol of the square, compasses and letter “G.” Can you tell me about its age and maker?

A: Gardner & Co. was founded in 1863 in Clarksville (called “Glen Gardner” beginning in 1871), N.J., by brothers George, John, Joseph, Oliver and William Gardner. The company started out making picture frames, but was known for its furniture after 1870. Gardner & Co. made chairs, benches and settees and held several patents for chair seats and backs. The company’s perforated seats were stronger and lasted longer than cane seats, which were in common use at the time. Gardner & Co. had plants in New Jersey and offices in New York, but it was out of business by 1888. A Gardner chair with a perforated seat and back sells for about $200.

Tip: Wash silver every time it is used. Before you polish silver, be sure to wash it to remove all dust. Small gritty pieces of dust will scratch the silver.

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

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.

  • Peter Pan Ice Capades pin, metal, brass luster, yellow, red and white enamel paint, feathered cap, dagger by waistband, wearing ice skates, seated on crescent moon, 1950s, 3 inches, $25.
  • Our Gang Club House play set, hinged door in back, club house with heart reads “Alfalfa Loves Sally,” scooter, benches, Pete the Pug, 6 Our Gang figures, 1975, Mego, $115.
  • Colonial Coffee tin, gold luster accent, image of soldier, Thomas Co., York, Pa., 1930s, 1 pound, $130.
  • Life magazine, black-and-white photo of Elizabeth Taylor on cover, autographed, July 14, 1947, 10 1/2 x 14 inches, $175.
  • Baby Snookums doll, composition head, shoulders and arms, cloth body, open mouth, painted teeth, tuft of hair stands straight up, 1928, Madame Hendren, 14 inches, $250.
  • Crewelwork panels, polychrome wool yarns in curvilinear floral design, brocade rope trim, linen backing, hanging hooks, 1890, pair, each 96 x 70 1/2 inches, $690.
  • DeVez cameo glass vase, mountain, trees and lake scene, green, pink and yellow, signed, 10 inches, $1,000.
  • Sheet-iron rooster weather vane, full figure mounted on iron pole, 36 x 24 inches, $1,175.
  • Sheraton bedside commode, mahogany, bow front, one drawer over cabinet door, pull-out chamber pot, turned legs, England, circa 1800, 34 x 18 x 23 inches, $1,840.
  • Newcomb College pottery vase, carved design of Carolina Jessamine flower in blue, green & yellow glaze, marked, 1915, 7 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches, $5,875.

“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, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2009 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.