Marks on antiques, especially silver or ceramics, can lead a collector to history and age.
However, the mark’s information can sometimes be confusing. A date may be the year the pottery business started. A name may be the name of the seller, not the maker. And sometimes, especially with Asian ceramics, recent copies are so accurate even the old mark is reproduced.
Wemyss Ware is the name used as a mark by Robert Heron & Son (later called Fife Pottery) who started making creamware in Scotland about 1820. They later used the Weymss mark. During the mid-1800s, European artists were hired. The most famous was Karel Nekola, who stayed for 33 years.
In the 1930s, Bovey Pottery of Devon, England, bought the rights to make Wemyss Ware and hired Joseph Nekola, Karel’s son. The pottery by Fife and Bovey is so similar, experts judge the maker by slight color differences. Joseph died in 1952, and very little Wemyss was made in the 1960s and 1970s. But in 1985, Griselda Hill pottery started making it, and they now own the Wemyss Ware trademark.
A ceramic pig that looks like Wemyss sold at a recent Humler and Nolan auction for $472. It is marked “Plichta, London, England” and “Nekola Pinxt Plichta.” Jan Plichta was a pottery and glass wholesaler who worked in London and, by 1916, bought many things from Bovey Pottery. The Latin mark means “Nekola painted design (for) Plichta,” evidence the pig was made before 1952. Very early flower-decorated pigs have auctioned for over $30,000.
Q: I have an Elvis doll made by Hasbro in 1993. The box is labeled “Elvis Jailhouse Rock, 45 RPM.” The doll has never been on display and the box has never even been opened. Can you tell me what is in the box and whether it has any value?
A: In the 1990s, Hasbro made three Elvis Presley dolls to honor the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Your doll’s box includes a numbered 12-inch posable Elvis doll dressed in a red jacket with black trim, a white shirt, black pants and white shoes. He has a removable guitar to commemorate the photo shoot for his hit record “Jailhouse Rock.” The doll is packaged with a doll stand that has an Elvis facsimile signature and a certificate of authenticity. The other dolls in the series commemorate Elvis “Teen Idol” and the Elvis “‘68 Special.” Each doll’s value today is $30 to $40. Sometimes Elvis memorabilia sells higher around Jan. 8 (his birthday) and Aug. 16 (his death).
Q: I just saw an old American Indian belt with silver ovals set with turquoise stones and some wire decorations. It is marked with a strange mark that looks like a wishbone surrounded by leaves and the word “sterling.” I tried to look it up, but had no luck. How can I tell how old it is?
A: Most early Indian jewelry is not marked. It often was made from reworked silver coins, a lower grade, so the word “sterling” did not appear. It was used on many pieces sold in stores by 1906. The silver ovals are called conches and they often were used to decorate leather belts. The old pieces, made before the 1970s, probably are made with stones from American mines, but cutters didn’t like to make round or oval stones. So more recent jewelry often used turquoise imported from Persia or Italy. It takes an expert to tell what kind of turquoise was used and if the setting is made from coins or is sterling. It also takes an expert to recognize the quality of the work. Buy from a recognized dealer in American Indian jewelry to be sure you are getting your money’s worth.
Q: We have a framed poster from the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” It’s signed “Best Wishes, Richard Dreyfuss.” We also have the movie script signed the same way and the music “An American Symphony,” written by Michael Kamen and signed by him and Richard Dreyfuss. We’re wondering what the value of this collection is and if we should add it to one of our insurance policies.
A: You can find out the value of your collection by contacting an auction house that specializes in movie memorabilia. If the value is high, you will need to pay for a written proper legal appraisal in order to add it to your insurance policy. Condition, framing and proof of authenticity are needed to determine price. The movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus” is of moderate interest, but your collection should sell for $1,000 or more.
Q: I’m looking for any information you might have on a scale made by Buffalo Scale Co. about 1880. I believe it’s a doctor’s office scale. It’s stamped with the company name and “Patented July 14th 1874, Feb. 10. 80.” Any idea if it’s rare or valuable?
A: Buffalo Scale Co. was founded in 1861. The company made scales that weighed wagons, trucks, railway trucks and other heavy items, as well as doctor’s scales. It still is in business in Buffalo, New York, now under the name Buffalo Scale & Supply Co. Scales of this type sell for about $75 to $125.
Tip: Try not to vacuum rugs with fringe. The vacuum “eats” corners, damages edge bindings, and edges and tears fringe.
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. Write to Kovels, The Daily Herald, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
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.
Souvenir badge, Atlantic City, bathing girls, woman, swimsuit, navy, white, 2¾ by 1¾ inches, $80.
Kitchen, kettle, apple butter, copper, rolled rim, iron bail handle, 1800s, 11½ inches, $130.
World’s Fair, bandana, 1893, Chicago, fair grounds, celebrity bust portraits, red, 21⅝ by 23⅝ inches, $240.
Shaving mug, occupational, railroad passenger car, yellow, blank name, 4 inches, $290.
Kitchen, broiler, rotating, iron, scrolling, stylized heart, three-footed, straight handle, 1700s, 4¼ inches, $700.
Door handle, pock-marked surface, steel, polished, blackened, James Bearden, 19½ by 3 inches, pair, $1,000.
Teapot, glass, crazy quilt, murrine, pink, blue, white, Richard Marquis, 5½ by 5½ inches, $3,120.
Candlestick, skyscraper, silver plate, brass, rectangular, post-shaped handles, Louis Rice, 1920s, 8¼ by 3¾ inches, $3,620.
Rose Mandarin punch bowl, court, naval officer, carp, gilt chain border, circa 1820, 6½ by 16 inches, $5,500.
Natzler vase, oxblood, green, lavender, melt fissures, bottle shape, signed, 10¾ by 3½ inches, $8,120.