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Biscuit Jars Began as Teatime Tradition

January 10, 1998|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Cookies at teatime have been a tradition for generations, especially in England, where most cookies are called biscuits.

In centuries past, the English stored biscuits in decorative jars or boxes displayed on a shelf or table in the dining room. About 1865, silverware makers began making silver-plated holders and lids for glass or pottery biscuit jars. Some biscuit jars were made entirely of decorated silver plate.

The biscuit jar was out of style by 1900.

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Question: Our last name is Larkin, and we have started to collect old Larkin Co. premiums. So far we have a soap crate, a wicker rocker and a small glass bottle with a zinc lid marked "Larkin." We passed up a Larkin desk because it was too expensive, $2,000.

What can you tell me about the company? Did it print premium catalogs?

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Answer: John Durrant Larkin and his brother-in-law, Roycroft founder Elbert Hubbard, established a soap company in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1875. The Larkin Co. won customers by offering premium gifts, from postcards and handkerchiefs to clocks and furniture.

In 1901, Larkin founded Buffalo Pottery to manufacture dishes given as premiums. The Larkin Co. closed in 1962.

Dishes and many other Larkin pieces are popular collectibles today. Larkin published semiannual catalogs, which sell today for $10 to $35.

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Q: We recently came across a 9 1/2-inch amber bottle that says "Warner's Safe Kidney & Liver Cure, Rochester, N.Y." There's an embossed picture of a safe before the word "Rochester." When and where was my bottle made?

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A: Hubert Harrington Warner founded his medicine business in 1878.

Your "Safe Cure" bottle held one of the products in Warner's popular Log Cabin line, produced from 1887 to 1892. The bottle was made in various shades of amber, with the embossed safe facing left or right. It's a fairly common bottle worth about $50.

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Q: I have a gold-colored coffeepot marked "Pickard China, Made in U.S.A., 597" on the bottom. The gold is decorated all over with a bumpy floral design. Where was Pickard china made? How old is my coffeepot?

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A: The Pickard China Co. of Chicago was founded in 1898 by Wilder Pickard, who hired artists to paint imported china blanks.

About 1911, Pickard started acid-etching china pieces and coating them with gold. Your coffeepot is decorated with Pickard's most popular etched pattern, Rose and Daisy, which has been copied by many other factories.

The mark on your pot dates it to the late 1930s, the same time Pickard started manufacturing china.

The Pickard China Co. is still in business and continues to use the Rose and Daisy pattern.

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Current Prices

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary because of local economic conditions.

* Koontz Dairy milk box, tin, hinged lid, image of young mother pushing a baby carriage, circa 1950s, 12 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 13 1/2 inches: $35.

* Sterling silver screw-post earrings, silver horse rearing on inlaid abalone ground, shield shape, marked "Hecho en Mexico": $45.

* 1909 calendar plate, red cherries in center, "Compliments of Rudolph Bros., Dealers in Fancy Groceries, Dry Goods, Boots, Shoes, Hdwe., Menominee Falls, Wisc.," gold lettering, Imperial China, 8 inches: $50.

* Official Girl Scouts Brownie doll, plastic, vinyl head, Brownie outfit, 1950s, 8 inches: $65.

* Heisey glass cherry jar and stopper, Old Williamsburg pattern, 9 ounces: $95.

* Rubber hot-water bottle, light blue, Red Riding Hood, metal-screw top, 1908: $150.

* Plastic Handbag by Dooner, dark gray, "Robbin' Peter to Pay Paul" interlocking circle pattern, 8 1/8 by 4 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches: $175.

* Shaker sewing box, mahogany, flame mahogany veneer, inlay and ivory finials and eyelets, two drawers, red velvet pincushion, 8 3/4 by 6 1/2 inches: $1,100.

* Staffordshire bust of George Washington, polychrome enamel, dark-blue coat, black base, marked "Enoch Wood 1818," 8 1/2 inches: $1,875.

* Gorham sterling tea set, engraved flowers, circa 1868, five pieces: $2,400.

If you'd like a listing of helpful books and publications on antiques, send a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope to the Kovels, Los Angeles Times, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

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