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Classic Jewelry Boxes Are Treasured Chests

January 31, 1998|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Storage of valuable jewelry has been a problem since ancient times, and the tradition of the jewelry box has continued through the centuries.

By the 1700s, men and women used special dressing boxes or "toilet cases," as they were called, to hold toiletries and jewelry. Only the well-to-do could afford to the boxes--not to mention the jewelry that went inside.

The boxes were decorated with paint, ormolu (imitation gold) or wood inlay, as well as precious stones, to match the furniture designs of the period.

In Victorian times, jewelry boxes grew to floor-standing cabinets with drawers that locked.

When inexpensive costume jewelry became available, the jewelry storage box became a common household item.

George Nelson designed a 1950s version of a jewelry chest for Herman Miller. There were four variations of his design. Some had legs or a stand. Early versions had porcelain drawer pulls, while later pieces had metal and plastic handles. The jewelry chests were pictured in the company catalog from 1956 into the 1960s.

Today, a '50s Nelson chest on a stand sells for more than $6,000.

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Question: My Sandeman Armada cream sherry decanter is in the shape of a man wearing a long black cape holding a yellow glass near his left shoulder. It's 10 1/2 inches tall and says "Wedgwood Don Decanter" on the back. The marks on the bottom include "Wedgwood" and "Prince of Wales Caernarvon, July 1969." Is the decanter valuable?

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Answer: The famous English Wedgwood factory made your decanter to commemorate the 1969 investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales. The ceremony took place at Caernarvon Castle in Wales. The sherry inside was made in Spain.

Your decanter sells for about $13. The Doulton version of the Don decanter sells for two to three times as much.

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Q. I purchased a blue glass pitcher with a white picture of Hopalong Cassidy. It reminds me of my Shirley Temple pitcher. What is it worth?

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A. Your Hopalong Cassidy pitcher is a recent product worth about $10.

Shirley Temple pitchers were premiums for Wheaties and Bisquick from 1934 to 1942.

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Q. I found my Ideal dollhouse furniture in my parents' attic. It's plastic and dates from the late 1940s and early '50s. My favorite piece is a TV console with a record player and radio. Should I let my young grandchildren play with the furniture?

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A. Buy the kids some new dollhouse furniture. Your TV console alone is worth about $30.

The Ideal Novelty & Toy Co. of New York started making hard-plastic dollhouse furniture in the '40s, so you have some of its earliest designs.

Other high-priced pieces include a card table with four folding chairs, worth $50 to $75; piano and stool, $20-$30; and washing machine, $20-$25.

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Q. At an antiques show, I bought a 20-inch-long plate shaped like a fish. It's cream-colored with pale green tail and fins and is marked "Shorter & Son Ltd." The dealer said it was designed by Clarice Cliff.

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A. Even though Clarice Cliff's name is not on the back of your dish, most experts say that in the late 1920s she designed the Fish Ware line for an English pottery firm founded in 1906.

Your large Pike platter was added to the Fish Ware set in 1936.

Cliff, best known for her colorful, Art-Deco Bizarre ware, worked at Shorter & Son's Newport pottery.

Fish Ware was a popular line and was made even after Shorter & Son merged with Fieldings in 1964.

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Q. I inherited a 33-inch-tall doll with a bisque head, brown glass eyes, blond hair and a jointed composition body. The mark on the back is "K&R," with a star and the number 8 under the star.

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A. Your doll was made by Kammer & Reinhardt of Waltershausen, Thuringia, Germany, sometime after 1895 and probably before 1920.

The 8 under the mark is the mold number for the head.

If the doll is in excellent condition, it is worth about $2,000.

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Q. What's the difference between enamelware and graniteware?

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A. There is no difference. Collectors call any enameled-metal cookware made between 1870 and 1930 "graniteware."

The St. Louis Stamping Co., one of the early manufacturers of enamelware, used the trade name Granite Iron Ware for its enamelware, and the name caught on in the marketplace because the early wares looked like granite.

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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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.

* "A Love Like This" sheet music, from "For Whom the Bell Tolls," pictures Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, 1943: $25.

* Home version of "The Newlywed Game," Hasbro, 1968: $30.

* Pressed glass tumbler, Bleeding Heart pattern: $95.

* Victorian baby rattle in form of three cats in basket, celluloid: $150.

* Depression glass salver, American Sweetheart pattern, red, 12 inches: $220.

* Sigma cookie jar, Hearts & Flowers: $300.

* Hummel figurine, Kiss Me, No. 311, three-line mark: $355.

* Madame Alexander Treena Ballerina doll, original outfit, 1952, 14 inches: $650.

* Pin-pendant, bow top with suspended heart locket, allover turquoise-blue enamel, applied diamond-set butterfly and flower, 18K gold, 3 inches: $800.

* Windsor love seat, maple with thumb back, rush seat, circa 1820: $1,500.

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