Want a conversation piece for your living room? Look for a piece of Amphora pottery from Bohemia.
Several potteries in Turn-Teplitz, Bohemia, around the turn of the 20th-century made large vases in the Art Nouveau style. Statue-like women in flowing dresses climbed the side of a tall vase. Or a mysterious, exotic vine with large blossoms crept up to the top. Designs also included animals, mermaids or birds, all with curved lines and pastel colors. Some vases look more like strange sculptures.
Early pieces were made by Eduard Stellmacher and are marked with variations of the factory name, Reisner, Stellmacher & Kessel, or with RStK, Amphora, Royal Amphora or an eagle. They also may be marked "Austria" if they were made before 1918, then "Czechoslovakia" until 1945, when the factory closed.
The most popular Amphora vases are large, at least 15 inches high and strikingly unusual. They are not at all like modern vases and many people do not like them, but today's decorators like a unique piece to add interest to a room. Prices at shops can go from $100 for a small piece to $6,000 for a large one, but sometimes you can find a bargain at an estate sale where only the brave buy large, bold examples of design.
Q: I have a few top-quality handbags and wonder what they're worth. One is a Chanel that's covered in little suede patches. Others are by Bottega Veneta, Pierre Cardin and Fendi.
A: The prices of high-quality vintage handbags can be quite high - into the thousands. Many national auction houses include handbags in their vintage couture sales. If your bags are in excellent condition, don't sell them on your own until you consult a reputable auction house. You may get a lot more for them if they are sold by an auction house that advertises widely, sells on land and online, and attracts a lot of interested bidders.
Q: My father gave me his favorite board game from his childhood. It is called "The Uncle Wiggily Game." I have the board, the pieces and the box. The board shows a map with numbered spaces, houses, trees, a rabbit (probably Uncle Wiggily) and other animals. Who made it? When? What is it worth?
A: Uncle Wiggily was a rabbit character created in 1910 for a daily series of bedtime stories. The game was introduced by Milton Bradley in 1916. In 1967 rights to the game went to Parker Brothers, which sold it until about 1971. All of the published versions of the game were similar. Elderly Uncle Wiggily, who wore a top hat, was searching for medicine for his rheumatism. The board for the 1967 game pictures a "2 & 3 Cent Store." Others have a "5 & 10 Cent store." The game board also changed in 1923, 1949, 1955 and 1961. The rabbits were made of a composition material in early sets. From 1947 to 1953, they were made of metal. In 1988, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers made different versions of the game. The Bradley version was a simpler, shorter game with 100 spaces instead of the original 151 spaces. There is a new game today, by Winning Moves, that has a vintage look. Most Uncle Wiggily games sell for under $30.
Q: My large, two-part, floor-standing spool cabinet has the words "The Leonard Silk Co." and "Warehouse Point" on the side panels. It has two rows of seven glass-front drawers above two stacks of four drawers. And it still has some of the removable pegs that held spools of thread. What is its age and value?
A: Leonard Silk Co. was a manufacturer of thread based in Warehouse Point, Conn. It started out as J.N. Leonard & Co. in the 1860s and became the John N. Leonard Silk Co. in 1891. In 1869 John Leonard invented a revolving display cabinet with wire rods to hold spools. He made spool labels with "ornamentally perforated" holes so they could fit over the rods and leave the printed labels intact. Leonard sold his interest in the company in about 1909 and its name was changed to Warehouse Point Silk Co. Spool cabinets were used by salesmen and dry goods stores to display spools of thread. Your spool cabinet was made between 1891 and 1909. Because your spool cabinet is so large, it's worth $1,000 to $2,000.
Tip: In addition to more visible mold, there is a critter called "dry rot," which can get into your wooden items after a flood. It's a silent killer. If the rot isn't killed, it will ruin your wooden items from the inside out throughout a period of 10 to 15 years. It gets into wooden furniture, floor supports and walls, and only eats wood. Take a tank sprayer with a borate solution and spray it into wall cavities and under floors.
Q: I inherited close to 100 limited-edition collector plates when my parents died. The plates were made by several different manufacturers. Most of them are in their original shipping boxes with their original paperwork. Who is buying these plates nowadays? How can I sell them?
A: Collector plates made in limited numbers were a huge collecting niche in the 1970s and '80s. We look back today and consider them a fad - because most of the plates are now worth less than half their original "issue" prices. Many would sell for just a few dollars, if they can be sold at all. The earliest collector plates were Christmas plates made in 1895 by Bing & Grondahl. These and other early plates still sell for good prices. So while it may be daunting to open every box, you should. Check the issue date, maker and design of all the plates. Don't worry about what your parents paid. You can find current selling prices online. Then either try selling the plates online, as small groups or single plates. It's unlikely a dealer anywhere would offer to buy all of the plates, but you could ask. Or you might consider donating the plates to a charity auction in your area.
Need prices for your antiques and collectibles? Find them at Kovels.com, a website for collectors. You can find more than 900,000 prices and more than 11,000 color photographs that help you determine the value of your collectibles. Study the prices. Go to the free Price Guide at Kovels.com. The website also lists publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques, show lists and more. Kovels.com adds to the information in this column.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
Akro Agate flower pot, ivory, marbleized, scalloped top, 3 1/2 inches, $20.
Bank, baseball player, cast iron, painted, A.C. Williams, 5 1/2 inches, $90.
Candle box, hanging, mahogany, lift lid, lower drawer, England, c.1860, 19 x 8 1/2 inches, $185.
Art glass vase, green, tulip-carved overlay, gilt, pinched sides, Honesdale, Pa., c. 1900, 6 3/4 inches, $205.
Toy car, sedan, pressed steel, black & yellow paint, Schiebel, 18 inches, $330.
Chalkware doves, brown, white, branch, white leaf base, Pennsylvania, c. 1860, 10 3/4 inches, pair, $385.
Sasha Gotz doll, "Yamka" Gypsy, painted eyes, black wig, beads, pink dress, tube box, $540.
Man's corset, sateen, linen, lacing, brown, adjustable, c. 1845, $770.
Jugtown Pottery vase, turquoise blue, mottled, red veining, handles, marked, 8 3/4 inches, $885.
Sheraton bureau, mahogany, carved, bowfront, four drawers, beaded, columns, c. 1810, 44 x 41 inches, $1,415.
New! The best book to own if you want to buy or sell or collect - and if you order now, you'll receive a copy with the author's autograph. The new "Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2014," 46th edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. This large-size paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs and more than 35,000 up-to-date prices for 700-plus categories of antiques and collectibles. You'll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks, a report on the record prices of the year, plus helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available for $27.95 plus $4.95 postage. Purchase online at KovelsOnlineStore.com; by phone at 800-303-1996; at your local bookstore; or send a check or money order by mail to Price Book, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Sunday News-Register, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.