Archive for Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kovel’s Antiques: Weller pottery maintains its appeal

February 26, 2012


Weller pottery was first made in 1872 in Fultonham, Ohio, but by 1882 Weller had moved to Zanesville, one of the main cities where pottery was made in Ohio. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of decorative art pottery and florist wares were made at Weller Pottery before it closed in 1948. It was a profitable pottery because its products were designed in the prevailing fashion and appealed to buyers.

By the end of World War I, many pieces were being made in molds, then glazed in a variety of color combinations. Vases, wall pockets, jardinieres and other pieces were made to resemble real logs or frogs, and traditional vases were made with molded shapes that look like branches, animals, birds, flowers and even carved ivory.

One very successful line, called “Woodcraft,” was made from 1917 to 1928. Each piece resembled a real log or tree trunk with raised birds, animals or fruit as extra decoration. The colors added to the illusion of real wood. The pattern is popular with Weller collectors today.

“Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2012” lists a 19-inch Woodcraft vase with a squirrel and owl for $960, an 8-inch wall pocket that looks like a branch with berries for $173 and a 14-inch tree trunk vase with an owl for $325.

My husband inherited an unusual oak chair from his grandmother. Our children call it “the scary face chair” because the chair’s back is a carved wooden face that does indeed look scary. A label on the bottom says “Made in Dayton, Ohio, by Stumps-Barnhardt.” Please tell me how old this chair is and what it’s worth.

Your chair is called a “North Wind chair,” a style popular during the late Victorian era (1880-1900) into the early 20th century. The face, from folklore, was supposed to blow evil spirits away. Many U.S. companies made them. But take another look at the label on your chair. It says “Stomps-Burkhardt,” not “Stumps-Barnhardt.” Gustave Stomps and his brother Joseph founded a furniture manufacturing business, G. Stomps Brothers & Co., in Dayton in 1859. The company became G. Stomps & Bro. in 1869, then Stomps-Burkhardt Co. in 1890, when Richard Burkhardt was named vice president and general manager. The company closed in about 1928. Your chair was made during the 1890s. Today it would sell for close to $500 if it’s in excellent and original condition.

One of our sons found an interesting bottle in the woods near our cabin. It’s a lovely green-blue color and is embossed “Dr. Kennedy’s/Medical Discovery/Roxbury, Mass.” We would like to know who Dr. Kennedy was, what the “medical discovery” was and when this bottle was made.

Donald Kennedy (1812-1889) was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States in 1833. Kennedy apprenticed with a currier, a person who works with leather, and studied medicine in his spare time. He began selling his “Medical Discovery” in 1848. A newspaper ad in 1854 claimed it was “the greatest medical discovery of the age” and that it was “warranted to cure every kind of humor [related to body fluids]” except “thunder humor.” It sold for $1 a bottle and probably contained a mixture of herbs and alcohol. Dr. Kennedy made several other patented medicines and became very wealthy.

His son, Dr. David Kennedy, took over the business when Donald died, and he continued to sell the Medical Discovery until 1928. The value of your bottle in good condition with no stains is $100.

Please help me learn more about an old piece of luggage I own. It’s heavy, covered in burlap and has leather handles. The name tag and zippers are marked “Amelia Earhart Luggage.” The manufacturer is the Baltimore Luggage Co. Was the suitcase made for her, or did she just endorse the brand?

Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) was a famous aviator who disappeared in 1937 while trying to fly around the world. Before that, she had made a lot of money promoting her career. One of the products she endorsed was a line of luggage that bore her name. She didn’t design the luggage, but she did approve its construction and insisted that it be well-made. The brand continues to be sold today, although the Baltimore Luggage Co. is out of business. A lot of vintage Earhart luggage sells online.


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