Looking for a collectible that is not yet known in all parts of the country? The folk art of Peter Ompir from the 1930s to the '70s is attracting buyers on the East Coast. Ompir began painting in the 1930s. Portraits were not selling, so he started painting on household objects, from tin pitchers and cigarette boxes to graniteware and tables. His designs were colorful - often pictures of fruit, trains, Colonial soldiers, roosters and other Pennsylvania German symbols. His work attracted buyers, and his items were sold by some large department stores, including Macy's and Neiman-Marcus. The painting took time. Each piece was painted with a base color, dried, sanded, painted again, then varnished. All were signed with his name. When he died in 1979, his co-worker, Warner Wrede, took over and painted Ompir's designs. Wrede signed pieces with his own name. Today a box by Ompir sells for $150 to $400, a dustpan for $385, a deep tin dish for $225 and a tray for $550. But that is in the East. Pieces painted by Ompir that sold at department stores in many states must still be hiding in homes all over the country.
Q: I have a small collection of Griswold cast-iron cookware. Recently I came across some cast-iron pots and pans marked "Favorite Piqua Ware." I have never heard of this brand. Who made it, when and where?
A: "Favorite Piqua" cast-iron cookware was made by the Favorite Stove & Range Co. of Piqua, Ohio, in the early 1900s. The company was founded in Cincinnati in 1848 as the W.C. Davis Co. From the beginning, it manufactured both cast-iron stoves and cookware. The factory was enlarged in 1880 and changed its name to the Favorite Stove Works. The new owner, William King Boal, moved the firm to Piqua in 1889. Favorite's cookware line expanded in 1916, when Boal's son took over the company, and sales reached their peak in the 1920s. Sales plummeted during the Depression and the company went out of business in 1934. That same year, the Favorite cookware line was sold to the Chicago Hardware Foundry Co. of North Chicago, Ill. The word
"Piqua" was taken out of the mark on the bottom of the cookware, but the "Favorite" brand name continued.
Q: I own a grandfather clock that has been in my family ever since my great-great-grandfather bought it in 1884. There is no name on the clock face, but the name John White is on an inside plate. According to my family, the clock was made in England around 1790 and was once owned by Mary Butler Washington, a second cousin of George Washington. Does the family history add value?
A: An expert would have to look at the clock and study whatever written records you have about its history. There were at least three clockmakers named John White in London in the 17th and 18th centuries and at least one in Boston in the late 18th century. (Tall-case clocks, later called grandfather clocks, were first made in England in the mid-17th century.) If the clock runs, if it's as old as you think it is and if the case is in good condition, it's a valuable antique clock. The fact that it was owned by a second cousin of George Washington doesn't add much additional value - a second cousin isn't a close-enough relative.
Q: Years ago a friend gave me the gift of a carved olive pit. I would never have known what it was because it looks like a lovely carved bead. I'm wondering about the history of this lost art form.
A: It's an ancient art form that apparently originated in the Far East, but the art isn't lost. Today it's done all over the world by both amateurs and professionals. Pits from almost any kind of fruit can be used as surfaces for whittling. Peach pits are favorites, but olive pits are often used for jewelry.
Q: Years ago, my mother gave me a pair of vases covered with gold. The gold is etched with tiny flower designs. The vases are about 10 1/2 inches high, and each is stamped with a gold shield with a lion inside and a word across the top that starts with the letter "P." Can you identify the vases?
A: Your vases were decorated at Pickard Inc. of Chicago during the Depression. The mark on your vases includes the word "Pickard" across the top. This particular lion-and-shield mark was used from 1930 to 1938. Pickard, which is still in business in Antioch, Ill., was founded in 1893. Until the late 1930s, when it started manufacturing its own china, the company bought blanks from other makers and hired artists to decorate the pieces. Pickard's allover etched gold designs are among the company's most famous. They were introduced around 1911 and continued to be made for decades. Because so many were made, pieces must be very large or unusual to sell for more than $100.
Tip: Replace broken or scratched watch crystals immediately to be sure no dust or moisture gets into the mechanism.
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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.
¢ 1935 Boy Scout patch, National Jamboree, Washington, D.C., $340.
¢ 1940 7-Up calendar, "I Like 7-Up, It Likes Me," picture of blond woman, metal band, full pad, 15-by-24 inches, $85.
¢ Holt Howard Pixieware Italian dressing bottle, 1959, 7 1/2 inches, $195.
¢ Pairpoint glass perfume bottle, amethyst, hand-painted butterflies, teardrop stopper, marked, 6 3/4 inches, $375.
¢ Simon Halbig doll, key-wind walker, marked "SH 1039 DEP," wood and composition body, mohair wig, 16 inches, $400.
¢ Van Briggle pottery vase, carved stem and flower design, red and blue glaze, marked, 2 1/2 inches, $500.
¢ Cut-glass wine goblets, Hobstar design, 7 1/2 inches, set of 12, $705.
¢ Reed & Barton silver-plated napkin ring, young girl on swing, 1880s, 5 1/2 inches, $765.
¢ Ideal teddy bear, golden mohair, glass eyes, swivel head, humpback, straw stuffing, c. 1910, 32 inches, $1,630.
¢ Punched tin hanging bread safe, red-painted poplar and oak, punched stags on front, "Bread Safe" punched on sides, c. 1894, 36-by-40-by-19 inches, 3,680.