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Clues That Help Collectors Identify Chinese Porcelain

October 11, 1986|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL

Collectors have named and renamed Chinese porcelains that were made during the 18th and 19th centuries for the export market. At first it was incorrectly called Lowestoft for an English factory. It was later called Chinese Lowestoft and finally Chinese Export porcelain. The various types of porcelains have now been divided into Canton, Nanking, Rose Medallion and other subgroups. The Rose decorated porcelains are still popular and are still being made. There were two main types. Mandarin was the earliest 19th-Century pattern. It usually had a large design that pictured Chinese figures in a room or garden setting. The border was a selection of fanciful flowers and butterflies. Rose Medallion was the next favored pattern. It was in vogue about 1850. It had four sections of designs around a center medallion. Two of the sections usually showed flowers and birds while the other two had Chinese figures in outdoor settings. No matter what the design, the name "Canton Famille Rose" applies to all of these pieces made with rose, green and other colors in the decorations.

Question: I have an old nickel-plated coal oil lamp with a high, narrow chimney. On the key there is a name, "The Mantle Lamp Co. of America, Inc., Model 11, Made in U.S.A. Chicago." How old is it?

Answer: Victor Johnson founded the Western Lighting Co. in Kansas City, Mo., in 1907. He sold a German kerosene mantle burner called the Practicus. In 1908 he changed the name of the company to Mantle Lamp Co. of America. The Practicus lamp had been better than the earlier lamps. Johnson wanted to develop an even better light, about 60 candlepower and smokeless. He finally acquired the patent for a new type of lamp burner and in 1909 introduced the Aladdin lamp. Model 11 was made for many years.

Q: What can you tell me about the plastic Aunt Jemima syrup pitcher I remember from my childhood breakfasts?

A: We talked to Otto Fiedler, the designer of the Aunt Jemima plastic pieces. He returned to Dayton, Ohio, to work in his father's company after the war in 1946. He installed an injection molding machine and began making tortoise shell plastic purses. The following year they made plastic refrigerator dishes and in 1947 they offered a line of plastic premiums to buyers at a trade show. The Quaker Oats company asked if an Aunt Jemima item could be designed. It would have to sell for a label and about 50 cents. The syrup pitcher was the first Aunt Jemima item made by F & F Mold and Die Works Inc. of Dayton. The name appears molded into the plastic. Later they made a large salt and pepper, a small salt and pepper, a sugar and creamer set and a set of spice holders. The cookie jar was their last item, and it cost $1. The company is still making plastic premiums and has made mugs picturing Roy Rogers, Mr. Quaker, Toni the Tiger, Yogi Bear, Dennis the Menace, the Flintstones, and many more.


Current prices are recorded from antique shows, sales, flea markets and auctions throughout the United States. These prices vary in different locations because of the conditions of the economy.

Skipper, Growing Up, 1975, blond, $15.

Fiesta tumbler, cobalt, $22.

Bank, Electrolux refrigerator, $45.

Fenton ivy bowl, footed, No. 1021, milk glass base and foot, $90.

Sterling silver sardine fork, Dominick & Haff, Renaissance, hollow handle, openwork and engraving, nine tines, 6 inches, $115.

Seth Thomas clock, miniature cottage, octagon top, alarm, $120.

Flying saucer, Cragston, the Best Saucer Made, battery operated, box, $225.

Trestle table, pine, rectangular top, shaped trestle base, 29x31x90 inches, $885.

Jukebox, Wurlitzer Model 700, $1,875.

Daguerreotype, half plate, California gold mining camp, $3,520.

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