Jacob Petit made and decorated exquisite porcelain pieces

  • Wednesday, October 3, 2012 3:18pm
  • Life

Jacob Petit (1796-1868) was a talented porcelain painter who worked for the Sevres factory in France, then opened his own shop.

He moved his company to Paris in 1869. In less than 10 years, he had hired about 200 people to make and decorate porcelains. They made ornamental vases, statues, clocks, inkwells and perfume bottles.

A specialty was figural veilleuses shaped like sultans or fortunetellers. These were tea warmers meant for use in the bedroom. Each was a stand with space for a candle heater and a teapot.

Most of the Petit pieces had decorations that were colored pink, light green, pale purple, black and gold. He used the cobalt-blue initials “J.P.” as his mark, but many of his pieces were not marked.

His customers wanted “antique”-style china, so he made copies of Sevres vases, Meissen figurines, many patterns of English dinnerware, Chinese export porcelain and more.

These copies often are mistakenly identified as original old pieces. But Jacob Petit porcelains are so attractive and well-made that they are almost as pricey as originals.

Q: I own a heavy wooden chair that I purchased years ago for $25. The back of the chair is marked “P. Derby &Co. Inc., Gardner, Mass.” I am interested in the history of the chair and its value.

A: Derby, Knowlton and Co. was established in Gardner in 1863. Several years later, Mr. Derby bought out his business partners. In 1880 he established P. Derby &Co. By 1897 P. Derby &Co. was listed as the second-largest chair manufacturer in the country.

It had branches in Boston, New York and Chicago. The company specialized in cane furniture, but also made traditional wooden tables and chairs. It went out of business in 1935. Most Derby chairs are worth $25 to $50.

Q: I recently bought a ceramic box at a yard sale. The base color is white, and the box is decorated with gold trim, green vines and a green frog. The bottom is marked “Freeman Leidy, Laguna Beach, Calif.”

A: California pottery-making was in its prime during the 1930s and ’40s. During World War II, California pottery production increased because there were no imports from Japan, Germany or Italy.

Freeman Leidy was active in Laguna Beach from 1944 to 1955. The company made figurines, tiles and giftware. It also made many glazed and footed ceramic boxes like yours, often with floral designs. Price depends on size. Your box could sell for about $200.

Q: Years ago, my great-aunt gave me a hand-colored etching done by Robert Dighton in 1802. It’s 9-by-12 inches and shows an actor named Mr. Braham playing the character of Orlando from Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It.” My great-aunt thought it was worth some money.

A: Robert Dighton (c.1752-1814) was a British actor and printmaker. His first prints were for John Bell’s edition of Shakespeare’s works (1775-76). He eventually made etchings of actors, actresses, military officers and lawyers and sold his prints at his own London shop.

He wound up in legal trouble when it was discovered that he had stolen some of his store’s stock from the British Museum, but he wasn’t prosecuted.

Even if your print is an original and in great shape, it would probably not sell for more than $100. And it is possible your print is a copy of the original and worth very little. It should be seen by an expert to be sure.

Q: I inherited an antique doll I was told dates from the 1800s. It is a 21-inch-tall boy doll with a cloth body. I think the head is bisque. It’s marked “Effanbee.” His features are painted on. He is wearing black pants and a tan jacket that has buttons with the word “Effanbee” on them. Is the doll valuable?

A: Dolls marked “Effanbee” were made by Fleischaker &Baum (F &B) of New York. The company was founded in 1912 by Bernard Fleischaker and Hugo Baum, so your doll is not as old as you thought. The mark can help you date your doll.

If the word “Effanbee” has a capital letter at the beginning, followed by lowercase letters, it is an early mark. All capital letters were used beginning in 1923. After 1923, the middle letters, “an,” were written in smaller capital letters.

The company changed hands several times and is now owned by Tonner Doll Co. of Kingston, N.Y. If your doll is in fair condition, it’s worth about $200. In mint condition, it might sell for $500.

Write to Terry Kovel, (The Herald), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

&Copy; 2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

On the block

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.

Political poster, “Everett C. Benton for Governor,” Massachusetts, cardboard, gray ground, navy letters, 1912, 22 x 18 inches, $65.

Lady’s black ankle spats, wool, 11 black buttons and metal eyes, labeled “Weedies Bootops,” patent dates Sept. 21, 1915, and May 15, 1910, 10 x 7 inches, $65.

Enid Collins box purse, bird design on front, orange, yellow, green, iridescent green and faux-pearl flowers, white plastic handle, hinged, 1960s, 11 x 6 inches, $85.

Buss Fuses advertising display, tin lithograph, silhouette of man by car, “Why Be Helpless When Fuses Blow?” yellow and blue ground, black letters, 1950s, 9 5/8 x 6 x 3 3/4 inches, $110.

Poor Pitiful Pearl doll, vinyl body, blue sleep eyes, rooted golden hair, original outfit of blue and white polka-dot dress, red scarf and blanket, Horsman, c. 1958, 17 inches, $125.

Dollhouse Hoosier cabinet, cast iron, white, top door with clock face, right side door opens, dough board pulls out, drawers open, Arcade, 1930s, $125.

Child’s chair, japanned bamboo, woven reed seat, c. 1880, 25 inches, $395.

Doorstop, drum manor, cast iron, maroon hat and coat, white pants, baton in right hand, 1900-20, 13 x 4 inches, $495.

Roseville Pottery vase, Windsor pattern, fern design in green and gold over muted blue mottled glaze, c.1931, 7 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches, $650.

Tiffany glass vase, dark green and gold English ivy on vines, embossed pulled pattern, rolled rim, marked, 7 1/2 inches, $3,680.

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