YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Bonnie Style of Scottish Ware From Fife Pottery

ALSO: * Bronze sculpture; * Dating photos


Few types of pottery from Scotland are collected by Americans. The most popular is Wemyss Ware.

The Fife Pottery in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, was purchased in 1837 by Mary and Robert Heron. Their son took over, and in the 1880s he hired artists from Bohemia. They developed a new style of decoration for the pottery. The pottery was decorated on the clay before it was glazed. The new pieces were called Wemyss Ware.

Pitcher and basin sets and mugs were popular. The pottery also started making modeled pigs and cats. The early wares had pictures of fruit and flowers on a white background.

By 1900, the pottery made smaller, less-expensive pieces, including commemorative wares.

The factory changed emphasis in 1916. Candlesticks and pitcher and basin sets were out of fashion. Decorations became more somber. Black backgrounds often were used, and designs were more impressionistic.

The factory closed in 1920. A pottery in Devon purchased the rights to the pieces and began making the colorful traditional designs again.

Collectors can identify the Wemyss pieces because the name is painted or impressed on the bottom. After 1920 the name and a thistle were used as the mark.


Question In 1940 my grandparents gave me a 9 1/2-inch bronze sculpture they called "Till Eulenspiegel." They had owned it for several years. It is a court jester's head mounted on a pedestal. The jester's face is made of a smooth white material that may be marble. It is signed "Roland Paris." Do you know anything about the artist?


Answer Roland Paris was an Austrian sculptor born in 1894. He was a student of Henry van de Velde, one of the founders of the Bauhaus school of design.

Paris specialized in sculpting satirical bronzes. He often used mixed media, such as marble and bronze.

Your sculpture probably was made in the 1920s or early '30s. It is worth more than $1,000.


Q I have a theory that it could be possible to date a male ancestor's picture by the beard, mustache or lack of facial hair. Any suggestions?


A Styles of men's facial hair, as well as haircuts, have changed through the centuries. The facial hair in a photo can offer a clue to its date, but it's hardly definitive.

In the 17th century, early American colonists were heavily bearded. By the end of the century, Louis XIII of France was losing his hair, so wigs became popular and beards were out.

During the 18th century, beards and mustaches remained out of fashion. No signer of the Declaration of Independence had either.

Abraham Lincoln was the first president to have a beard or a mustache.

Sideburns were longer in the early 19th century, but it was not until about 1860 that beards became popular again. Mustaches, mutton-chop sideburns and goatees were also in fashion.

By the 1880s, beards began disappearing. Small mustaches sometimes remained.

The movie idols of the 1920s set the style for slicked-back hair and a clean-shaven face.

It took Clark Gable and other movie stars to bring back the mustache by the 1940s.

Crew cuts and cleanshaven faces were in style from the war years through the '50s.

The Beatles popularized long hairstyles in the '60s, and soon after, mustaches and beards were back in fashion.

Family pictures from the '70s probably still show beards, but by the early '90s, few beards remained.

If you're trying to date a photograph, don't overlook furniture and other clues in the background.


Q My Ingersoll Mickey Mouse wristwatch is in its original 1930s box, which has a picture of Mickey on the cover and inside. The watch has a leather band. There is a Mickey charm on each side of the face. The original price, marked on the box, was $2.95. What is it worth now?


A It's worth a lot more.

The Ingersoll-Waterbury Co. of Waterbury, Conn., made the first Mickey Mouse wristwatches starting in 1933. Since then, hundreds of different Disney character watches have been made by several manufacturers.

Your watch was made about 1936. Another mid-'30s Ingersoll model had a metal band.

With the original box, your wristwatch is valued at close to $700.

For a copy of the Kovels' 1998 leaflet listing 153 books and pamphlets that are price guides for all kinds of collectibles and antiques, send $2 and a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) No. 10 envelope to: Price Guides for Antiques and Collectibles, Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, Ohio 44122.

Los Angeles Times Articles