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Good Eye Knows Top European Porcelain

March 24, 2001|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Unusual and unidentified porcelain can sometimes be unrecognized treasures. Pieces made in Europe and never exported to the United States were often overlooked by American collectors because the American eye was not trained to know quality.

Early 20th century wares made in Holland that are not traditional blue-and-white delft are often overlooked. Artists with original ideas were making modern pieces similar to the Scandinavian, Italian and American wares of the time. Artists such as Adolf le Comte, Bert Nienhuis, William Brouwer and Christiaan J. van der Hoef designed pieces they signed with their names and the factory name.

Most collectors and dealers in the United States do not recognize these pieces, but they command high prices in Europe.

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Question: I understand that old TV sets are collectible. Mine is a Philco table model with a 17-inch swivel screen that sits on top of a cream-colored metal tuner. There's a small clock timer and tuning dial on the right side of the perforated metal grille. Can you tell me how old my television is? What is it worth?

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Answer: Your black-and-white TV is a Philco Predicta model made in 1959. Its space-age design makes it popular among today's collectors. The clock worked as a timer that could turn on and off the set automatically. Your set would sell for about $300 today, even if it does not work. If it works, its price would double.

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Q Any tips on how to date old Mickey Mouse items?

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A Mickey has changed in appearance over the years, but, unfortunately for collectors, the changes are not always a good clue. After the 1960s, many pieces were made showing earlier versions of Mickey Mouse. When a movie was reissued, the Disney items made to go with the reissue used Mickey's look in the movie, so they might seem older than they are.

The copyright notice is a help. If a piece has the copyright symbol and the name "Walt E. Disney" or "Walt Disney Enterprises," it was made between 1930 and 1939. After 1939, the name used was "Walt Disney Productions."

School writing tablets made in 1929 were the first authorized Mickey Mouse items. In 1930, authorized handkerchiefs showing Mickey and Minnie were made in Switzerland. Then thousands of Mickey images were licensed and sold. Mickey started with solid black or pie-shaped eyes and skinny, straight legs in 1928. White gloves and shoes were added about 1932. His eyes were changed to white with black pupils in 1939. The American Mickey has always had three fingers and a thumb on each hand.

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Q Please explain what an egg coddler is and how it's used.

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A The egg coddler, a small china cooking vessel, was a British invention. The earliest, dating from the 1890s, were made by Royal Worcester. Most single-egg or double-egg coddlers look like small, flat-bottomed, straight-sided cups, 6 to 8 inches high.

Many are decorated with colorful designs, and most have a metal screw-on cover with a center lifting ring.

To cook an egg using a coddler, you butter the inside, break an egg into it and add seasoning. Screw the lid on and stand the coddler up to its neck in a pan of boiling water. Simmer 7-8 minutes, and your egg is ready to eat.

You can buy new coddlers at American department or specialty stores.

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Q Thirty years ago I bought a pair of lustres at an antique shop. They are light-blue painted glass with pastel flowers painted on each base and candle bowl. Ten long prisms hang from tiny hooks around the bottom of the bowls. Can you tell me where and when they were made?

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A Your lustres are examples of "Bristol glass," a semi-opaque glass decorated with enamel in a style born in Bristol, England. Similar glass was made in the United States and Eastern Europe by the end of the 19th century.

Lustres (or lusters) are tall, glass candleholders, vases or mantel ornaments decorated with several hanging glass prisms. It is also correct to call each prism a lustre.

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Q I inherited a Windsor chair 20 years ago. It is marked with the name of the maker, Nichols & Stone Co. Do you know when and where the company worked?

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A Nichols Brothers Chair Co. was founded in Westminster, Mass., in 1857. After a merger in 1894, the firm became Nichols & Stone Co. It is still in business in Gardner, Mass., making Windsor-style Colonial Revival chairs.

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Q When was my set of dishes made? It is marked "Arcadia pattern by Syracuse."

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A The Syracuse China Corp. of Syracuse, N.Y., made Arcadia-pattern dishes from 1928 to 1932.

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.

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Current Prices

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

* Kool cigarettes Willie & Millie salt and pepper shakers, plastic, penguin-shaped, by F&F, 3 1/2 inches, $20.

* Tom Corbett record, "Space Cadet Song & March," Rockhill Productions, 78 rpm, 1952, $55.

* Fenton China Co. plate, Charles and Diana's wedding, picture of the couple and inscription "29th July 1981," 3 inches, $70.

* Hooked rug, hunter with gun in forest, three rabbits running among trees, circa 1900, 18 3/4 by 36 inches, $325.

* Ride-a-Rocket Circus ride toy, Chein, No. 260, 1950s, 18 1/2 inches, $530.

* Regency rosewood flip-top game table, English, circa 1815, scroll-carved frieze, hexagonal baluster, scroll feet, 29 by 36 inches, $690.

* Needlework sampler, silk on linen, signed "Ann Bells sampler wrought in the 11th year of her age, 1838," birds, flowers, fireplace, swans and strawberry border, 17 by 15 inches, $2,050.

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