Archive for Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kovel’s Antiques: Halloween ‘foot lantern’ is a find so rare it’s scary

November 7, 2010


Current prices

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the country. Prices vary depending on location because of local economic conditions.

• Porky Pig doll, stuffed fabric, pressed flocked face, paper decal eyes, blue overalls, felt farmer’s hat, 1940s, 14 inches, $115.

• Judith Leiber evening bag, black lizard skin, cabochon jeweled closure, pierced jeweled frame, hidden chain-link shoulder strap, signed, 6 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches, $150.

• Welsh dragon pie bird, Creigiau Pottery, bronze, blue eyes, 1900s, 1 3/4 x 4 1/8 inches, $200.

• World Globe travel inkwell, portable, original paper world map cover, glass inkwell inside, c.1890, 1 1/2 inches, $265.

• 1948 Texas truck license plate, black & orange, MP 7730, $300.

• Cast-iron Victorian gate, palmette finials, hand-wrought, c.1890, 75 x 100 inches, $535.

• Majolica dessert stand, open water lily surrounded by three connected bowls shaped as water lily leaves and buds, impressed “Mintons,” 5 1/2 inches, $575.

• Sterling-silver tray, Marie Antoinette pattern, swag and bellflower border with egg-and-rope bands, Gorham marks, 1956, 17 inches, $745.

• Coin-operated Booz-Barometer arcade game, “Sobriety Test of Champions,” takes nickel coin, metal, wood base, Northwestern Corp., 1930s, 18 x 18 inches, $950.

• George III reading chair, mahogany, leather horseshoe-shaped back & seat, hinged book-rest, detachable reading stand, circular candleholder, late 1700s, $4,880.

Sometimes a vintage or antique item is so unusual it’s hard to figure out what it represents or how it was used. At a recent Morphy auction in Pennsylvania, an item was offered as a “Halloween foot lantern of substantial size.” It’s 7 1/2 inches tall, certainly large enough to be noticed. And it looks like a foot, but a foot with a smiling face on the bottom. It resembles a TV ad for shoe inserts, but the papier-mache lantern doesn’t talk. A candle held by a holder inside the foot lights the eyes and mouth. Faces are painted on the toes, small faces that suggest Halloween jack-o-lanterns, but perhaps they’re ghosts. Bare feet are rarely decorations at parties on Halloween or any other holiday. The amazing lantern, a rare conversation piece estimated at $2,500 to $3,500, auctioned for $10,350.

Q: In 1955 I bought a new solid red mahogany bedroom set and now I’m wondering what the set would sell for. The original tag on each piece says, “Basic-Witz Furniture Industries Inc., Waynesboro, Virginia.” Can you help?

A: Basic-Witz Furniture was in business in Waynesboro from 1889 into the mid-1970s, when it was bought by Stanley Furniture, another company based in Virginia. Stanley is still in business. The price you can get for your 1955 set depends on its style, condition and quality. It also depends on finding a buyer who doesn’t mind picking up the furniture, loading it in a truck and moving it. Good Basic-Witz bedroom sets the age of yours sell for under $1,000.

Q: I have my mother’s Fiestaware dishes from 1936-37. What are they worth?

A: Fiestaware has experienced a renaissance among collectors. That’s why the Homer Laughlin China Co. of Newell, W.Va., started making the dishes again in 1986 and hasn’t stopped since.

Vintage Fiesta dinnerware made in the 1930s is more valuable than pieces made since 1986, but some ’30s dishes — depending on rarity and color — are worth a lot more than others. Rarities include the green disk water jug, worth more than $1,000, the covered onion bowl, the 10-inch cake plate and syrup pitcher in any color.

Original Fiesta colors were dark blue, red, light green, ivory and yellow. Turquoise followed in 1937. Other colors introduced during the first decades of production included chartreuse, forest green, gray, medium green and rose. There are auctions that specialize in Fiestaware and other Homer Laughlin dinnerware. To find more prices, go to

Q: I have an antique parlor stove made by the Richmond Stove Co. of Norwich, Conn. Cast above the stove door are the words “Ivy Franklin,” and ivy is cast into much of the stove’s surface. Centered over the door is a square ceramic tile showing a profile of Benjamin Franklin’s head. Below the rail there’s a cast plate with the words “Olds & Whipple, Hartford, Conn.” Can you tell me the approximate period of manufacture?

A: The Richmond Stove Co. was founded by A. Richmond in 1867. Benjamin Franklin invented a free-standing stove that allowed warm air to circulate in a room while smoke went up the chimney. The invention, originally called a “Pennsylvania Fire-Place,” was first made in 1744 by a friend of Franklin’s. This type of stove became known as the “Franklin stove.” Your stove was made about 1885. It was sold by Olds & Whipple, a retail company that also sold farm equipment, seeds and fertilizers. Richmond Stove Co. became the Richmond Co. in 1902.

Q: My mother has a 4 1/4-inch Kewpie doll made of soap. It dates from about 1918 and advertised Best Pure Baby Soap. I even have the original box. The doll is made of molded soap, and there’s a heart with the word “Kewpie” inside impressed on the doll’s back. What do you think it’s worth?

A: Kewpies were created by American illustrator Rose O’Neill (1874-1944). She drew the first ones for a 1909 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. Kewpies became so popular that within a few years they were made as dolls and figurines and appeared on dishes, spoons and other items. Kewpie’s image was used to promote products like Jell-O and baby soap. We have seen your doll, without the box, selling online for $35. With the box, it would probably sell for close to twice that.

Q: I am looking for information on a metal fishhook disgorger embossed with the words “Dorsey’s De-Hooker No. 1, Pat. No. 2,152,879.” There’s a small hook at one end, and the other end’s grip has finger indentations.

A: Your disgorger, also called a de-hooker, was patented by Benjamin L. Dorsey of Los Angeles in 1939. It’s used to remove a hook from the gullet of a fish. Not much is known about Dorsey, but he holds several patents granted during the 1930s and early ‘40s, most for inventions related to fishing. Vintage fishing equipment can sell for good prices at auction, but single disgorgers like yours don’t attract high prices. Collectors prefer multipurpose angler’s pocket knives, the kind with multiple tools in one knife. Your disgorger might sell for $1 to $10.

Tip: The ladies pictured on old cameos often have long noses. The turned-up nose is seen on modern cameos.


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