By Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel
Artists often express political ideas in their work, and many years later, collectors have trouble understanding the politics.
Kirkpatrick/Anna pottery worked from 1839 to 1896 in Illinois and made pottery jugs and other useful containers. But they also created some very strange jugs. Pottery pigs marked with railroad routes were made in the 1870s and 1880s to give to politicians, important owners or employees of the railroads. Those pigs sell today for about $12,000 up to a record price of $35,000.
But mysterious “Temperance” jugs were decorated with three-dimensional figures that can be confusing to someone from the 21st century. One spectacular salt-glazed jug, 10¼ inches high, was made with more than 18 applied designs representing the Civil War, slavery and the drinking of alcohol. There is a bust of a Union soldier with a goatee being bitten by a snapping turtle. The rear end of a man in red pants “going in” probably is a reference to the evils of alcohol that “trap” him in the whiskey jug. One of the many snakes on the jug is eating a thin, bearded man. The head of a man, perhaps Abraham Lincoln, is shown near an eagle. The head of a black man and loose pottery chains represent slavery. A man smoking a pipe and drinking from a mug, and a classical figure of a woman holding a lyre still are unidentified.
The jug is well-marked, with the words “from Kirkpatrick Anna Pottery, Anna Union Co, Ills.” It may be the most amazing of all of the Anna Pottery message pieces, and it sold at a Crocker Farm auction in Sparks, Md., for $69,000 in March 2014.
Q: I have a glass compote with a frosted stem and foot. The stem has three female faces in relief. The clear-glass bowl has a piecrust edge. It has been in my family for a long time. Can you give me any information about it?
A: Three Face is a pressed glass pattern made by George A. Duncan &Sons, which later became Duncan and Miller Glass Co. It was designed by John Ernest Miller in 1878, and the designer’s wife supposedly was the model for the face. Three Face pattern glass was made until 1892. However, it has been reproduced. Original, early pieces sell for high prices, but reproductions sell for about $100.
Q: I bought a “Vibro-Shaver” at a garage sale and would like some information about it. I have the original box and the instructions, but it doesn’t say who made it or the year it was made. It runs and is in excellent condition. It still has the original price tag of $5. What is it worth today?
A: Vibro was advertised in a 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine as the only non-electric, automatic shaver made. The razor blade is held in the detachable head, which vibrates when the “key” on the front is wound. Shavers are not a popular collectible. Vibro-Shavers with original box sell online for $15 to $20 today.
Q: I have a silver-plated demitasse spoon by Crown Silver Plate Co. The engraving in the bowl of the spoon is of an old battleship. The letters on top read “Battleship Maine,” and underneath the ship it reads “Captain Sigbee.” The ship sunk in Havana Harbor on Feb. 15, 1898. I’d like to know if this spoon has any value.
A: The battleship Maine was sent to Cuba in January 1898 to protect American interests during Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain. On Feb. 15, an explosion onboard sank the ship. The cause was never definitely determined. The sinking inspired the slogan “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain” and spurred America’s entrance into the Spanish-American War. To commemorate the sinking, several silver companies made souvenir spoons picturing the battleship in the bowl and the head of Captain Sigbee on the finial at the end of the handle. The name “Crown Silver Plate Co.” was used on silver flatware made by J.W. Johnson of New York City in 1898. Souvenir spoons like yours sell for about $5.
Q: I have a hobo clown doll that has been in my family since at least the early 1950s. It is 18 inches tall, has a hard-plastic head and cloth body, and a hand crank on the back that produces a laughing sound when turned. The doll has a cloth tag that reads “Gund Mfg. Co., J. Swedlin Inc.” I have tried to learn more about it, and Gund says they have no record of this doll. Can you help?
A: Gund made your clown doll sometime between 1954 and 1957. German immigrant Adolph Gund started his company in 1898 in Norwalk, Conn. He retired in 1925 and sold the business to Jacob Swedlin with the understanding that the Gund name would continue to be used. Swedlin ran the company with his brothers. They changed the company’s name to J. Swedlin Inc. but kept Gund as a trade name. Gund was bought by Enesco in 2008 and continues to make plush toys. The laughing box mechanism inside your clown doll is actually a phonograph-like device that plays a small record. It was patented in 1953. The device was used in millions of toys, including your clown doll and other toys made by Gund and other companies, until 1957. Your laughing clown doll would sell for $25 to as much as $100 if it’s in good condition and still laughs.
Write to Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel at Kovels, The Herald, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
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.
Currier &Ives print, Sinking of the Cumberland, lithograph, hand-colored, frame, 1800s, 17 x 21 inches, $60.
Orrefors bowl, clear, frosted dancing nude women, birds, deer, hexagonal, signed Simon Gate, c. 1945, 3 x 8 x 9 inches, $185.
Staffordshire group, Tithe Pig, minister, man holding pig, woman with baby, tree, c. 1830, 6 1/2 inches, $200.
Barber pole, carved wood, red and white paint, c. 1900, 67 inches, $240.
Indian Motorcycle sign, yellow-and-red logo, wood, round, Springfield, Mass., 1900s, 24 inches, $440.
Apron, flowers, rockwork embroidery, silk, shadowbox frame, Chinese, 50 x 25 inches, $610.
Chair, grain-painted, gilt stencils, turned crest rails, double cornucopia splats, ring-turned legs, c. 1825, 34 inches, pair, $620.
Print, Le Tresor Coree, Japanese woman holding small child, signed Paul Jacoulet, c. 1940, 19 x 14 inches, $710.
Doorstop, Old Salt sailor, cast iron, painted, black face, yellow slicker, holding knife, early 20th century, 14 inches, $1,650.
Schwinn bicycle, Black Phantom, painted black and red, chrome, leather seat, balloon tires, boy’s, c. 1955, 20 inches, $4,025.