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Archive for Sunday, February 1, 2009

Collector creed: If you like it, buy it — if you can

February 1, 2009

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Silver-plated triangular pieces of metal were formed into this 5-3/4-inch-high cigarette box, made by John Otar about 1935. It sold for $1,000 at Talisman Fine Arts of San Francisco at Trocadero.com.

Silver-plated triangular pieces of metal were formed into this 5-3/4-inch-high cigarette box, made by John Otar about 1935. It sold for $1,000 at Talisman Fine Arts of San Francisco at Trocadero.com.

“If you like it, buy it” is the motto of many successful collectors. But sometimes you can’t afford to.

We saw an unusual cigarette box about 20 years ago at a small antiques show. It was made of triangular pieces of silver-plated metal stacked one on top of the other like a deck of cards. The stack was twisted into a spiral. There was a cover over the hole inside that held cigarettes. We didn’t need the box, but it was fascinating, and we really wanted to buy it. But it was $100 — too much money for our budget — so we passed it by.

No one, including the dealers, seemed to know more than we did about the unusual, well-designed box, even though it was marked “Otar USA, Pats. Pend.” We have seen two more, and the price has been higher each time. But now the cigarette box’s history is known, and we realize what a bargain we passed up years ago. John Otaredze was a Russian immigrant who worked in the Santa Cruz, Calif., area from about 1920 until he died in 1939. He made and sold lighting fixtures, andirons, lanterns and other metalwork, but he is now best-known for his Art Deco-modernist metal boxes. He patented the design and marked each box.

Last year, Talisman Fine Arts of San Francisco sold one at Trocadero.com for $1,000. The value continues to rise.

Q: The bottom of my white pitcher is marked “Published July 1, 1842, by Jones & Walley, Cobridge, Gipsey.” Tell me about it.

A: In 1842 Samuel Alcock & Co. of Burslem, England, registered its design for the Gipsey jug. Jones & Walley, of the Villa Pottery in Cobridge, England, made the same design in buff and green stoneware. The popular design was copied in America and Bavaria in brown. Jones & Walley broke up their partnership in 1845.

Q: Does my old mirrored dresser with a Luger Furniture shipping tag have any value? Or should I transform it into a student desk?

A: Dressers usually are higher than desks and don’t have space for a chair. So you might be better off buying an old desk and using the dresser as a dresser. Luger Furniture was founded in Wabasha, Minn., in 1861. From Wabasha, southeast of the Twin Cities, the firm expanded to St. Paul and Fargo, N.D. It stayed in business until the 1950s or ‘60s. Luger had a reputation for making high-quality furniture, so whatever the age of your dresser, it’s a good, solid piece of furniture. Its style can help you date it.

Q: Is Georges Briard, the name I see on many pieces of 1950s decorated glassware, a person or a company?

A: In the 1980s, a book came out that said Georges Briard is a fictitious name. We checked and learned that there is a company called Georges Briard Designs. Georges Briard — a real person born as Jascha Brojdo in Ukraine — created the company’s designs. We know that although Briard designs were available in 1990, they are no longer made. Mr. Briard died in 2005 at the age of 88.

Q: I own a pair of large Belleek mugs that have been in my family for as long as I can remember. I have searched every Belleek catalog I can find, but I can’t find anything that resembles them. I would like to know their age and origin. The mark on the bottom of each is a circle with a three-letter monogram inside and an oval artist’s palette on one side. The word “Belleek” is under the mark.

A: Your mugs were made by an American pottery, Ceramic Art Co., not by the famous Irish company, Belleek Pottery Ltd. The monogram in the mark combines the initials of the American firm, CAC. Ceramic Art Co. was in business in Trenton, N.J., from 1889 to 1906. One of its founders was Walter Scott Lenox, and in 1906 Ceramic Art Co. became Lenox Inc.

Q: A friend of mine from upstate New York gave me a small bronze figure of an ox. The mark on the bottom is “Diecast Art Bronze Corp., Jamestown, New York.” The front of the figure’s base is inscribed “Maddox Tables.” What kind of tables were Maddox tables? I’m guessing butcher tables.

A: We recently answered a question from a reader who owned a desk made by the Maddox Table Co. of Jamestown. You have an advertising piece made to promote the company, which was founded by William Maddox in 1898. Maddox was an inspired inventor and a great promoter of his products. He tried all sorts of advertising ideas.

One of them must have been contracting with a Jamestown foundry to produce advertising figures like your “Mad Ox.” The figures probably were distributed to furniture retailers.

Tip: Postage stamps, produce seals or other gummed paper pieces that have stuck together can be separated with this simple trick: Put them in a freezer overnight. The glue will loosen.

CURRENT PRICES

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.

Kay Finch figurine, Pee-Wee the Penguin, 1949, 3 1/4 inches, $65.

• Souvenir match safe, Prince George Hotel & Restaurant, view of hotel with green floral design around edges, porcelain, 1920s, 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches, $110.

• Roseville Pottery Ming Tree vase, openwork twig-style handles, bonsai foliage on white ground, 14 1/2 inches, $175.

Inuit doll, male figure with carved wooden head, painted features, fur and leather coat, gloves and boots, 1920s, 14 1/2 inches, $290.

• Gene Autry Western side table, Molesworth style, engraved and painted top picture of Gene on his horse, 1920-1950, $295.

Louis Vuitton golf bag, leather logo-printed trim, zippered pocket, 32 1/4 inches, $575.

• Old Hickory rocking chair, branch construction with caned back and seat, rear stile with branded mark, 1930s, 40 x 26 x 18 inches, $975.

• Schoenhut twin dolls, boy and girl, No. 405, intaglio-painted eyes, girl in white-and-red dress, boy in suit and hat, 15 inches, $1,210.

• George III spider-leg table, mahogany with birch, shaped top with turret corners, turned base with double fly legs, pad feet, 1790s, 27 x 31 inches, $2,990.

• Concert poster advertising Jimi Hendrix, The Monkees, Glen Campbell and Rod McKuen, cardboard, Houston Music Hall, 1969, $5,750.

— 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, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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