This brass inlaid inkstand was made in Victorian London. A label on its base provides insight into its history.

This brass inlaid inkstand was made in Victorian London. A label on its base provides insight into its history.

An original paper label adds value to this Victorian inkstand

Information about this specific item’s provenance is not immediately obvious

Brass inlaid inkstands were not a rarity in Victorian times. This one recently sold for $188 at New Orleans Auction Galleries. It features a brass handle, two compartments for ink pots and a stamp box in the center. Its most unusual feature isn’t immediately obvious in a picture: If you turn it upside down, you can see a nearly intact paper label on the base. The original paper label adds value to an antique. It also provides useful information, often more than just a mark.

A label can tell you the name and possibly the address of the maker or retailer. This inkstand was made by “L. Leuchars, Writing & Dressing Case Maker,” located at “38 Picadilly, London.” The label mentions the maker also made “Ink Stands, Chess Men, Tea Chests” and “Work Boxes,” and it includes a crest with a crown showing a royal warrant “To Her Majesty and the Royal Family.” An online search for “L. Leuchars” brought up Lucy Leuchars, the widow of James Leuchars, who took over his business. Later, when their son joined the business, it was called “Leuchars & Son.” The royal warrant was issued in 1837, the first year of Queen Victoria’s reign.

Q: I have many Barbie dolls and collectibles, Ertl metal tractors that were my husband’s and airplane banks that I’d like to sell. None of my great-grandchildren seem to be interested. Do you have a price list that tells what I might be able to sell them for? I could use the money.

A: Old toys sell at house sales, estate sales and garage sales. The price you can get depends on rarity and condition. Parents buy them for their children to play with and may even buy the toy if it’s in worn “used” condition if the price is right. Adult collectors look for vintage Barbie dolls, banks and farm toys in good condition. Prices for toys are listed in our latest price book, Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price List 2023. You can also check eBay and other online sources to see what toys like yours have sold for. Be sure to check “Sold” prices, not asking prices. Barbie dolls sell for $12 or less to a few hundred dollars or more. Barbie’s clothing and accessories sell for a variety of prices. Ertl tractors in used condition sell for $25 or less. Some in good condition sell for $60 to a few hundred dollars. A 1920’s aluminum “Spirit of Saving” airplane bank commemorating Lindbergh’s flight sold for $480 recently. It was in near mint condition.

Q: I have five porcelain ramekins and underplates marked “I.G. Dillon Co., Wheeling, West Virginia.” They also have a mark with a conjoined “WV” surrounded by what looks like wheat. I’d like information on the age and maker.

A: I.G. Dillon was a jeweler who partnered with W.A. Turner to establish Turner & Dillon in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1875. Dillon became the sole owner in 1880 and changed the name of the business to I.G. Dillon Co. It became I.G. Dillon & Co. in 1887. By 1890 it was the largest jewelry company in West Virginia. It sold jewelry, clocks, watches, silver and pottery made by other companies. The conjoined “WV” mark was used by the Ohio Valley China Company in Wheeling. It started as the West Virginia China Company in 1887. It became Ohio Valley China Company in 1891. The company made porcelain tableware, hotel ware and artistic wares. It was in business until at least 1893.

Q: I have a copper mechanical scene of a woman and man seesawing to the tune of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” There is a small house, fence, flowers and umbrella. It’s 10 inches long and 5 1/2 inches high and is in excellent condition. Stickers on the bottom say “Item No. 23890, Happy Days,” “Not a Toys (wrong spelling) for decoration only” and “Do not overwind, Made in China.” Is it worth anything?

A: The song “Happy Days Are Here Again” was written in 1929 and used in a 1930 movie. It was also a campaign song used in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 presidential campaign. The copper sheet metal scene with two people on a seesaw is one of several mechanical musical scenes made of sheet copper in China and imported into the United States. It’s not as old as the song. It was probably made in the late 1900s or later. This scene sells online for $25 to $45. A smaller version with the tune “It’s a Small World” sells for about $20 to $25.

Q: I found an unopened box of 24 cans of King Oscar Brisling sardines in a cupboard while cleaning out my parents’ house. They were given to my father 15 years ago and never opened. Are the sardines still safe to eat?

A: If the cans have been stored properly and not exposed to temperature extremes or moisture, the sardines should be safe to eat for about five years from the date of purchase. The quality and taste might not be as good as it was originally. Fifteen years is too long. Don’t eat the sardines you found. You can use them to fertilize the plants in your garden if the fish were packed in water, not oil. Add the contents of one can of sardines to the hole before planting a new plant. Sprinkle some used coffee grounds on top to discourage animals from digging up the sardines and to absorb the fish odor. The fish and coffee grounds add nutrients to the soil.

TIP: The longer the cylinder on an old music box, the higher the price.

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.

Box, Iroquois, hinged lid, beaded, multicolor, leaf on front and back, green accents, borders alternate clear and color bead clusters, flared base, beaded loop fringe, 3 ¾ by 4 ¼ inches, $70.

Advertising crate, Victor, dog and phonograph logo on front, Nipper, “His Master’s Voice,” hinged lid, latch front, wood, 28 by 20 by 19 inches, $180.

Satin glass, pitcher, water, cased, Cut Velvet, rose pink, diamond pattern, opal interior, square rim, shoulders, applied reeded handle, polished pontil mark, c. 1890, 8 inches, $280.

Lamp, electric, copper dome shade, adjustable, chain pull, round stepped base, brass stand, Hubbell, 1920s, 50 by 7 ¾ inches, $310.

Porcelain-Asian, bowl, blue underglaze garden scene, peony flowers, ivory ground, soft paste, short foot, six-character Chenghua mark, Vietnam, 4 ¾ inches, $360.

Wheatley vase, pottery, mottled blue ground, painted flower spray, wild roses, white and yellow, incised marks, T.J. Wheatley & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, 1880, 8 ½ by 5 inches, $455.

Toy, Universe Traveler, lithographed tin, two-tier track, multicolor space graphics, planets, stars, rockets, space station, blue ground, two spacecrafts, X-100, red & yellow, X-200, silver and yellow, box, Modern Toys, Japan, 10 ¼ by 3 ½ by 2 ¾ inches, $675.

Blanket, Navajo, double saddle, cream field, light brown, pink, 16 Valero stars, eight feathers, early 20th century, 30 by 53 ½ inches, $750.

Chair, Fritz Hansen, beechwood frame, blue wool-blend upholstery, butterfly back, pillow, open sculptural arms, c. 1950, 40 by 27 by 35 inches, $1,600.

Jewelry, necklace, arts & crafts, three multicolor enamel plaques, five amethyst cabochons, two freshwater cultured pearls, gold chain, marked, James Cromar Watt, 1910s, 15 ¾ inches, $5,850.

Talk to us

More in Life

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

This Vacasa rental is disgusting. Can I get my money back?

The vacation rental Carol Wilson books for her group through Vacasa is infested with rats and insects. Vacasa offers to refund one night, but can they get all of their money back?

A woman diverts from her walk on Colby Avenue to take a closer look at a pickup truck that was partly crushed by a fallen tree during an overnight wind storm Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in north Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)
Storm season is coming. Here’s how to prepare for power outages.

The most important action you can take is to make an emergency preparedness kit.

Do you prefer green or red grapes? This antique Moser pitcher is decorated with enameled grapevines on shaded red-to-green glass.
Grapevine pitcher was made by renowned Bohemian company

Also, queries about grandmother’s coffee set and late husband’s Beatles records and memorabilia collection.

The city of Mukilteo is having a naming contest for its new $75,000 RC Mowers R-52, a remote-operated robotic mower. (Submitted photo)
Mukilteo muncher: Name the $75,000 robot mower

The city is having a naming contest for its new sod-slaying, hedge-hogging, forest-clumping, Mr-mow-it-all.

Death of parent with child. Piece of paper with parents and children is torn in half.
Helping children cope with the hard realities of divorce

I’s important to set aside one’s feelings and find a way to make this challenging transition as comfortable for children as you can.