Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of March 2, 2015

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Nursery rhymes may not make sense to the 21st-century child. What’s the tuffet that Little Miss Muffet sat on when the first copies of the rhyme appeared in England in 1553? A chair, a stool, a plant, a stone or maybe a small animal? And what are the curds and whey she is eating?

The food is our familiar cottage cheese. Curds are the cheese, whey is the liquid. The tuffet is more difficult. Official definitions say a tuffet is like a footstool with no feet. Modern ones are padded balls, flattened at the top and bottom to make a comfortable seat. But because tuffets are so much like stools, decorators and casual collectors and those on Pinterest use either word to describe a small padded footstool with tiny feet.

But there also is another tuffet – a rounded clump of grass that might make a comfortable seat for Miss Muffet. Children’s books often have drawings of Miss Muffet on a stool, not a tuffet. And even antiques auction houses sometimes use the language of their customers. A pair of “tuffets” sold at a Neal Auction in New Orleans recently for $312. But a careful look at the picture shows the tiny faux ivory feet.

Q: I have what I’ve been told is a Floradora doll that is 105 years old. My grandfather bought it for my mother when she was born in 1909. The doll has a bisque head and hands, a long curly wig, sleep eyes and an open mouth. She’s about 22 inches tall. I’m 82 years old and have no children who would be interested in the doll. I’d like to sell it to someone who’d take care of it and enjoy it. Can you give me an idea as to how to proceed?

A: Floradora dolls were made from 1901 to 1921. Armand Marseille made the bisque heads. The doll bodies were usually made of kid, but composition, cloth, and imitation kid bodies were also made. Armand Marseille also sold the bisque heads to other companies. The dolls were made in several sizes. A 14 1/2-inch Floradora doll with bisque shoulder head and hands, sleep eyes, wig and kid body could be bought at a department store for 50 cents in 1909 (when the average worker made 22 cents an hour). Floradora dolls have sold at recent auctions for $50 to $70.

Q: I have a silver tea service that has a teapot, sugar and creamer marked “Tiffany & Co., quality 925-1000.” The tray is marked “Dixon & Sons, Sheffield.” Can you tell me the value of this tea set?

A: The tray was not originally part of this set, since it was made by a different company. Charles Lewis Tiffany opened a store in New York in 1837 and the name “Tiffany & Co.” was used beginning in 1853. The company still is in business. In 1852, Tiffany & Co. set the standard for sterling silver in the United States, which is 92.5 percent silver. James Dixon began working in silver in Sheffield, England, in 1806. The company was called James Dixon & Sons by 1835. The company made Britannia, nickel silver and silver-plated ware. It was out of business by 1992. The quality numbers on the teapot, sugar and creamer indicate they are sterling silver, but the tray is silver-plated. The name Tiffany adds value. Your set might be worth $1,000, depending on the weight of the silver.

Q: We own a Coca-Cola upright dispenser with a water dispenser on one side. We had it fixed and it still runs. I plug it in sometimes to keep drinks cool. The price on the front advertises a Coke for 10 cents. What is its value as a Coca-Cola collectible?

A: Coca-Cola made many different shapes and styles of coolers and dispensers. Yours dates no earlier than the 1950s – the decade when the price of a Coke increased from a nickel to a dime at various times and places across the country. If you’re interested in selling, do some research online to check on similar dispensers. If yours is in great condition, it could be worth a few hundred dollars.

Q: I have a bronze sculpture titled Trooper of the Plains, by Frederic Remington. It has a marble base and is 13 inches high by 13 inches long. What is it worth?

A: Frederic Remington (1861-1909) created 22 sculptures that were cast in bronze at New York foundries. Some of the original bronze castings were authorized by Remington’s wife, Eva, after the sculptor died. An original Trooper of the Plains bronze sculpture of a post-Civil War cavalry officer on his horse is 24 5/8 inches high by 25 1/2 inches long. One is owned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which lists the date of the sculpture as 1908, and this particular sculpture’s casting as “before 1939,” which was the year the bronze was given to the Met. Remington’s original molds were destroyed after his wife died, so anything cast after that is not “original.” The copyrights on Remington’s bronzes expired in the 1960s. Copies of his bronzes have been made in various sizes. Your bronze is a copy. Still, it could sell for $250 to $350 if its quality is good. An original Remington bronze would sell for tens of thousands.

Tip: If a marble tabletop is damaged, a good repair is preferred to a new top. If there is a lot of damage, an old top from another piece is the best replacement.

Need prices for your antiques and collectibles? Find them at Kovels.com, our website for collectors. You can find more than 900,000 prices and more than 11,000 color photographs that help you determine the value of your collectibles. Study the prices. Go to the free Price Guide at Kovels.com. The website also lists publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques, show lists and more. Kovels.com adds to the information in this column.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to 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 email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount 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.


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.

  • Shaving mug, Odd Fellows, symbols, 3-link chain, initials F.L.T., E. Hitchcock, 1900s, 3 1/2 inches, $35.
  • Match safe, gold washed sterling, Swedish coat of arms, azure enamel, circa 1920, 2 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches, $75.
  • Bradley & Hubbard lamp, candle sconce, patinated metal, smoke caps, circa 1900, 14 x 6 1/2 inches, pair, $100.
  • Rochester Root Beer sign, mug shape, girl looking through glass, paper cutout, 1920s, 15 inches, $150.
  • Bohemian glass ewer, etched white flowers, red ground, circa 1875, 13 1/2 inches, $345.
  • Blanket chest, hinged top, drawer, cutout apron, miniature, 1800s, 10 x 15 inches, $420.
  • Rocking horse, wood, gray, white, red paint, hair tail, leather saddle, bridle, 1800s, 25 x 32 inches, $480.
  • Judith Leiber purse, minaudiere, Panda, multicolor crystals, gold tone chain shoulder strap, 5 x 3 1/2 inches, $980.
  • English silver salver, gadrooned, engraved armorial shield, footed, marked WB, circa 1812, 10 inches, $1,320.
  • Broiler, revolving, iron, ogee edge, heart handle, acorn finial, Continental, 1800s, 25 x 14 inches, $1,845.

New! “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2015,” 47th edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. It’s available now and includes a special bonus section that helps you determine prices if you’re downsizing and selling your collectibles and antiques. If you order directly from the Kovels, you’ll receive our free companion ebook with all of the book’s 35,000 prices-ready for downloading to your ereader. The large-size paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You’ll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks, a report on record prices, and helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available for $27.95 plus $4.95 postage. Purchase directly from the Kovels if you want the ebook companion. Visit KovelsOnlineStore.com, call 800-303-1996, or write to Price Book, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

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