Kovels Antiques and Collecting: Week of Sept. 28, 2015

Images of catfish adorn this silver water pitcher made by Tiffany & Co. It sold for $18,750 last year at Rago Arts auction in Lambertville, N.J.

Images of catfish adorn this silver water pitcher made by Tiffany & Co. It sold for $18,750 last year at Rago Arts auction in Lambertville, N.J.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Silver tea sets, vases, jewelry and other objects can be sold at many jewelry stores and antiques shops for the meltdown value. Sterling silver has been about $21 an ounce, but in mid-2015, it was down to about $14 to $15. Of course, most collectible silver in good condition is worth more than when it’s melted down, and pieces made by important companies like Tiffany or Georg Jensen will sell for many times the scrap value. But as older collectors downsize and young buyers search for useful furnishings for new homes, some things have gone down in price.

Few brides today ask for a silver tea set or even a set of silverware, so those pieces are selling at bargain prices. It is the lucky couple that inherits a sterling water pitcher by Tiffany & Co. Even luckier are those who get Tiffany silver in Art Nouveau patterns.

A water pitcher with raised catfish on a hammered background was estimated at $2,500 to $4,500 at a Rago auction in Lambertville, N.J. There were dents, lost patina, a repair and a monogram, all factors that normally decrease the value. The unusual pitcher, 8 1/2 inches high, sold for $18,750 because of the fine workmanship, unique design and fame of the maker.

Q: I can’t find the value for my antique Conrey & Birely claw foot table. It’s a smaller table and has a sticker that reads “patented Sept 29, 1896, no 568397.”

A: The Conrey & Birely Table Co. was founded by Jacob A. Conrey and Charles Birely in Shelbyville, Ind., in 1885. The company was also listed in Grand Rapids, Mich. The patent was granted to Charles Birely for a method of attaching legs to a table or other furniture. The company was reorganized in 1901 and became Conrey-Davis Furniture Co. Your table, made before 1901, is worth about $200, depending on size and condition.

Q: I have old Popeye and Olive Oyl toys that were given to me when I was about 5 years old, in 1934 or ’35. I have no idea who made them. When new, they squeaked when squeezed. But after more than 80 years, the rubber has dried out and the toys are brittle. Plus, Popeye’s pipe has broken off and both of Olive Oyl’s arms and head have broken off, but have been saved. They could be glued back on, but I don’t want to touch them until I find out more about what should be done. Each figurine is about 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide. I am wondering if they have any value today, or if they’re just not worth saving.

A: Your rubber Popeye figures were products sold by N. Shure and Co., a wholesaler and importer of toys and novelty items that operated in Chicago from 1888 until 1967. The company claimed to be the World’s Largest Novelty House, and sold popular items such as china tea sets, magic sets, Lincoln Logs, metal clamp-on roller skates, plush toys and toys related to Shirley Temple, Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy, the Dionne Quintuplets, Popeye and many other others. Rubber toys deteriorate. Your figures are from 1935 and can’t be fixed, so you should just throw them away. They’re not rare, and are not worth much in good condition.

Q: My stoneware jug is 11 3/8 inches tall. It was my mother-in-law’s. The jug is printed with blue letters, “Globe Liquor Co., 148 & 152 Main St., Buffalo, N.Y.” Can you tell me about it?

A: Your jug doesn’t have a maker’s mark, but a wine and liquor wholesaler operated in Buffalo, New York, at that address from the 1880s until about 1901. Salt-glazed stoneware pottery from Europe was used in America from its earliest days. By the 18th century, it was being made in America by hundreds of small local potters. Early decorations were incised and later designs were painted free hand, usually in cobalt-blue glaze. By 1860, designs were more elaborate and had stylized flowers, leaves, birds and other pictures. Names often were printed or stamped on the jugs. Stoneware crocks held butter, sugar, spices, flour, coffee, tea, honey, molasses, pickles, cheese, smoked fish, meats and cheese. Stoneware jugs and bottles held vinegar and beer and kept water cool and drinkable. Don’t forget whiskey, that’s probably what was in your jug. Stoneware was out of favor by about 1910, after the inventions of canning in glass jars and refrigeration. Now collectors consider salt-glazed stoneware folk art. Prices are determined by rarity, unusual decoration or known maker. Your jug is worth about $80 to $100.

Q: I have an old RCA Victor 78rpm record with “When I Grow too Old to Dream” on one side and “Home on the Range” on the other. The label reads that it’s by Dick Leibert, who played the Music Hall Organ at Radio City in New York. Is it worth anything?

A: Dick Leibert started his career as an organist at Loew’s Palace Theater in Washington, D.C. He moved to New York City and became the first organist at Radio City Music Hall when the organ was installed in 1932. He retired in the 1970s. Leibert also played the organ for radio shows and radio soap operas. He made many recordings for RCA and Westminster. Most old records sell for $5 or less. Rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and rhythm and blues records from the 1950s and ’60s sell for about $10 if in good playable condition. Records by some well-known musicians sell for over $100. A used record dealer can tell you what your record is worth.

Tip: Never steam-clean an old Oriental rug. It will remove the natural lanolin in the wool. Wash the rug with mild soap and water.

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.

  • Target game, Buster Brown, multicolor paper lithograph, cartoon characters, wood, 10 x 23 inches, $60.
  • Chinese export porcelain dish, blue and white, center waterscape, flower borders, octagonal, 18th century, 9 inches, $185.
  • Erector Set, No. 8 1/2, electric, contents new in red metal box, Ferris wheel, A.C. Gilbert Co., postwar, 12 x 20 inches, $295.
  • Sterling-silver sugar and creamer, George III, straight gadroon border, reeded handles, ball feet, gilt wash interior, Alice & George Burrows, 1805, 4 x 8 1/4 inches, $480.
  • Television, Philco, Predicta, tube, bulbous screen, turquoise console speaker base, cloth front, 1950s, 49 x 24 inches, $710.
  • Food chopper, heart pierced, forged iron, copper, maple, elliptical handle, bell-shaped blade, circa 1720, 11 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches, $950.
  • Bennington pottery, slop jar, urn shape, paneled, flint enamel glaze, two applied handles, mid-19th century, 13 1/2 inches, $1,020.
  • Radio, Emerson, AU-190, Catalin, Bakelite, tube, mini-tombstone style, butterscotch, 1930s, 10 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches, $1,035.
  • Tiffany paperweight glass bowl, Diamond pattern, green leaves, lavender morning glories, marked L.C. Tiffany, paper label, 3 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches, $2,440.
  • Settee, Biedermeier, fruitwood, caned seat panel, fan back, scrolled arms, tapered legs, 1815-’48, 35 x 50 x 21 inches, $2,595.

New! “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2016,” 48th edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. It’s available now and includes a special bonus section that tells you how and where to sell if you’re downsizing, settling an estate or selling your antiques. If you order directly from the Kovels, you’ll receive our free Companion eBook with all of the book’s 32,000 prices – ready for downloading to your eReader. “Kovels” is the best book to own if you buy, sell or collect. The paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs and 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You’ll also find hundreds of factory histories. Available for $27.99 plus $4.95 postage. Purchase directly from the Kovels if you want the free eBook Companion, and be sure to include your email address. Visit KovelsOnlineStore.com, call 800-303-1996 or write to Price Book, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

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