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Archive for Sunday, August 2, 2009

Haviland pioneer in new vase technique

August 2, 2009

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The mark “Haviland Limoges” means fine porcelain to most collectors, but in the 1870s Charles Haviland wanted to expand his company’s offerings.

He traveled from Limoges, France, to Paris looking for new ideas and hired Felix Bracquemond to head a new operation in Auteuil, France. Bracquemond soon introduced plates and vases that were not decorated with symmetrical, bordered designs. Instead, country flowers, insects, landscapes and Japanese-inspired patterns were used.

Vases were made of a new type of earthenware. It was hand-painted with slip, a thin paste made of white clay and water with added color. Then the vase was dipped in glaze that made the colors brighter and the vase watertight. The finished surface looked like that of an impressionist oil painting. The finished pieces, called “Auteuil” or “Haviland” even “Limoges-style” pottery, inspired Rookwood, some other Cincinnati potters and Pauline Pottery in Edgerton, Wis. They made similar vases using their own techniques. The French pottery was made until World War I.

Q. I bought a chest with shelves covered with wire work so my vase collection can be seen. It came from an estate sale and looks like a mid-19th-century English piece, but a paper label on it says “Beacon Hill Collection.” The label has a picture of couples dressed in Victorian clothes walking on a wooded path. Do you know if Beacon Hill is a maker?

A. Beacon Hill furniture was made in the 1950s by a Boston company. It was top-quality and was made with solid mahogany, inlay, brass hardware and designs that copied or were inspired by 18th-century furniture. The company was out of business by the 1980s, but the name “Beacon Hill” remains important in the world of furniture. It has been a design name and a maker’s brand, and it’s still used by several companies. The label on your chest identifies it as a piece from the 1950s. It would sell for almost as much as the English original it copies.

Q: I have a very old Sorry! board game that belonged to my grandmother. It’s well-used but intact. The label says “Made in England,” and the game includes a card advertising a Sorry! competition in the London Daily Mail. The publisher listed on the box is W.H. Storey & Co., 34 West 33rd St., New York City. The copyright date is 1932. Can you tell me anything about it? How did it become the game we know today?

A: W.H. Storey & Co. was a British firm with a New York office. It introduced the game of Sorry! (a variation of Parcheesi) in 1932 in both England and the United States. It appears that Storey sold U.S. rights to the game to Parker Bros., which started selling Sorry! under its own name in 1934. Today it’s still a Parker Bros. game, but Parker Bros. is a brand now owned by Hasbro. Your Sorry! game is unusual because of the British manufacturer, but it still wouldn’t sell for much more than $10.

Q: Can you tell me anything about my pewter teapot? I bought it about 10 years ago. It’s marked “S. Simpson No. 1” on the bottom.

A: The mark on your teapot was used by Samuel Simpson, a pewter maker who worked in New York City from about 1845 to 1847 and in Yalesville, Conn., before and after that. His career appears to have spanned the years 1835 to 1852. Prices of antique pewter vary widely depending on condition and workmanship. Some teapots sell for less than $100, others for well over $1,000.

Q: My grandfather’s electric cigar lighter now belongs to me, and I’d like to know more about it. It’s metal and shaped like W.C. Fields’s head. If you push in his red nose, the lighter on the top of his hat heats up. What’s it worth?

A: Your lighter was made by Frankart Inc., a New York City company that mass-produced all kinds of sculptures it sold as lamps, ashtrays, lighters and other decorative household items. Frankart pieces were made of white cast metal spray-painted to look darker. The lighting mechanism in your lighter was patented in 1906, but Frankart wasn’t founded until 1921. Since W.C. Fields was not a major movie star until the 1930s, it’s likely your lighter dates from that decade. It would sell for $300 to $500, depending on condition.

Tip: Dust your bronze, then try the Chinese method of polishing. Rub the bronze with the palm of your hand. This puts a little oil on the metal.

— 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, Lawrence Journa-World, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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