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Rookwood Pottery Painters Left Stamp

November 28, 1998|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Rookwood Pottery is probably the most famous company making art pottery in America in the 20th century. The company was founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols, who saw some pottery at the Centennial Fair and started to make her own in Cincinnati.

Rookwood Pottery produced vases as well as dinnerware, figurines, bookends and tiles. Business managers, potters, a glaze chemist and decorators were hired. Rookwood was expensive, well-made and artistically decorated from the beginning and won many prizes. It continued to be a world-renowned pottery until the company closed in 1941.

All types of Rookwood pottery are collected today. Most prized are pieces by famous decorators such as Carl Schmidt, Kataro Shirayamadani and Matthew Daly.

Rookwood has always been clearly marked with the initials of the factory and the artist. The famous RP and flame mark helps dates the piece. After 1900, the Roman numeral for the year was included.

The most expensive Rookwood piece sold at auction was $198,000 for a vase by Shirayamadani decorated with an electroplated fish swimming under a sea-green glaze. Average vases made in the 1920s to 1940s sell today for hundreds of dollars.

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Question: My father purchased a few antique clocks over the years and has left them to me. One is a brass and glass rectangular shelf clock, about 16 1/2 inches high, 9 inches wide and 5 inches deep.

There are plain brass columns at each corner, a single glass column at the center of each side and a curved glass door on the front. The brass decorative crown is fancy. On the face of the clock are the words "Manufactured by the Ansonia Clock Co., New York, United States of America."

Can you help me determine age and value?

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Answer: The Ansonia Clock Co. was founded in Derby, Conn., in 1850 by Anson G. Phelps, a wealthy New York importer. After two fires and corporate reorganizations, the company moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1880.

Your clock is called a "crystal regulator" and was probably made between 1905 and 1915. (The 1914 Ansonia catalog has 18 pages of crystal regulators.) It was a popular clock style in 19th century France. If your clock works, it is worth more than $3,000.

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Q My bronze figure of a naked woman is 15 inches high. It is signed "Andreas."

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A Andreas worked in France about 1910. He is not a well-known maker.

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Q My mother's family has passed down a large locket with four small photos mounted inside. The photos are of four people from the same family--the parents and two children. The locket is said to date to before the Civil War. Was this a common kind of jewelry at the time?

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A You have a piece of what is called Daguerrean jewelry. In 1839, Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre invented an early type of photograph called a Daguerreotype, which reproduced images on a silvered copper plate.

Miniature photos were used in bracelets, brooches, buttons, earrings, rings, pendants and pins. They preserved the image of loved ones and were often made for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Although popular at the time, few have survived because the images are so fragile.

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Q Five years ago my mother-in-law gave me a bridal shower gift of 21 coin silver teaspoons and serving spoons. She paid only 10 cents for each spoon. She says they are all English and date before 1850. I love the spoons but can't identify their marks. The marks include "N. Matson," "A. Henderson" and "W. P. & H. Stanton." Some of the spoons have additional small hallmarks of a lion, star and single initials.

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A Your mother-in-law was a great shopper, but your spoons are American. Newell Matson and his partners worked as N. Matson & Co. in Chicago from about 1867 to 1888. A. A. Henderson worked in Philadelphia in the mid-1830s. William P. and Henry Stanton worked in Rochester, N.Y., from about 1826 to 1841.

Some 19th century American silversmiths also used pseudo hallmarks to make the public think the silver was English. The letter mark "D" indicates the amount of silver (900/1000) in the metal used to make the spoons.

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Q I collect plates decorated with a calendar and an ad for a business. When were the first advertising calendar plates made?

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A The oldest plate we have heard about is for the year 1877. It was by J. W. Harrison of Liverpool, England. Most of the plates made in the United States date after 1906. Plates dating from the 1930s are common. Those made in the 1940s are scarce.

For a listing of helpful books and publications, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope to Kovels, Los Angeles Times, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

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.

* Electric sad iron, "Pluto," dated 1907, leather bag: $55.

* Bronze Swiss cow bell, leather collar, embossed designs, floral saints & 1875-Viglino, 7 1/2 inches: $65.

* Cut glass punch cups, Strawberry, diamond & fan pattern, set of 6, 2 1/4 inches: $75.

* Bennington cuspidor, brown Rockingham glaze, "1849" mark, 9 inches: $110.

* Ritz Cracker wristwatch, windup, cracker dial, 1960s, unused, box: $150.

* Christy Mathewson baseball figure, by Hartland, circa 1950s, 7 inches: $270.

* Royal Doulton Gibson Girl plate, Failing to Find Rest in the Country, blue & white, 10 inches: $320.

* Terri Lee Bonnie Lou doll, brown complexion, plastic, socket head, pouty lips, 16 inches: $675.

* Federal country-style tall poster bed, painted & turned wood, arched headboard, spiral-turned foot posts, New England, circa 1820, 54-by-79 inches: $1,380.

* Fraktur watercolor, religious, Exodus, Chapter 20, picket fence, gable roof, steeples, flowers, red, green, yellow & black, 1889, 15-by-12 inches: $2,860.

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