Archive for Sunday, February 17, 2002

Painted pottery proves popular

February 17, 2002


Spongeware and spatterware are two types of pottery that are often confused.

Spatterware was first made in the late 18th century in England. Dishes  including cups, saucers, coffeepots and plates  were decorated with a border of spatters of color. The spatters were created by tapping a paint-filled brush. Many pieces also had a hand-painted design in the center, now called by familiar names, like Peafowl, Schoolhouse or Tulip.

It took a lot of time to decorate a spatterware piece. Collectors today pay high prices for spatterware pieces with hand-painted designs.

A less-expensive decoration called spongeware came into use by the 19th century in England and the United States. Color was daubed on with a cut sponge, brush or cloth.

The most sought-after spongeware is white with blue decoration. It is two to three times as expensive as green- or brown-decorated pieces. Examples with sponged decorations in three colors are also high-priced. Blue-and-white spongeware mixing bowls and kitchenwares are still being made.

Twenty years ago, my father gave me a spinet-style desk he inherited from his mother. There is a label on the bottom printed with the name Bay View Furniture Co., Holland, Mich. Typed above Bay View's printed name is the name of another company, Robbins Furniture Co., Owasso, Mich. Can you explain this?

The Robbins Furniture Co. might have been the successor to the Robbins Table Co., which was working around 1888 in West Owasso, Mich. Bay View Furniture Co. made tables and spinet desks in period styles from about 1898 to 1934.

It is likely that Robbins bought your desk from Bay View, then sold it to a furniture store.

Can you tell me the history and value of an old print titled "Custer's Last Fight"? It is 24 by 36 inches and shows the battle at its height. Under the title are the words "The original has been presented to the Seventh Regiment U.S. Cavalry by Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association, St. Louis, Mo."

The name O. Becker is in the lower right corner. My copy of the print is about 50 years old.

Adolphus Busch (1839-1913), the founder of Anheuser-Busch, was an astute businessman.

In 1888, Busch bought a St. Louis bar and its contents, which included an original Cassilly Adams painting of the famous 1876 battle. Recognizing the advertising value of the painting, Busch commissioned another artist, F. Otto Becker, to create a print of the battle scene.

Becker, who worked for the Milwaukee Lithographic Co., completed his version of the battle scene in 1896 and added the Anheuser-Busch name to the bottom. Busch gave the original to the U.S. Army and sent the lithographed print to bars throughout the country. It became a successful advertising tool.

The print has been reissued over the decades. A print from the 1950s is worth about $100. Larger versions are worth up to $1,000.

I have a large collection of antique egg timers. Most of them are 3 to 5 inches tall. The frames are wooden, ceramic or metal. All of them have the typical glass filled with sand to time the eggs. Some are made with a figurine holding the glass timer. Can you tell me what they sell for?

Egg timers like yours date from the last quarter of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th. They were made in the United States or were imported. Most antique and unusual-looking egg timers sell for $50 to $100 each.

I just found a "Weekend Willie" in a box. It is a pottery bird with an open mouth. It sits on a long pottery stake so it can be stuck into the dirt in a flowerpot. The directions on the box say: "Water the plant by putting water into the ceramic bird's mouth. The water will seep out of the porous clay stake."

How old could a plant waterer be? I paid $20 for it. Was that a good price?

The plant waterer seems to be an invention of the 1950s. Many figural waterers were offered for sale.

Weekend Willie was imported by Holt Howard, which made many items that are popular with collectors. The waterer kept the plant damp for a full week.

You can find waterers shaped like worms, owls, flowers, snails, people and plants. Most sell for only $15 to $25. The box can add at least $10 more.

 The Kovels answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for its use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and 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, Lawrence Journal-World, King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.