Bird feathers adorn delicate Chinese jewelry

The pieces are difficult to make and are vulnerable to damage and decay.

Blue kingfisher feathers embellish this Chinese hair pin. It has phoenix birds with flame-shaped tails and irises as part of the design. The pair sold for $854.

Blue kingfisher feathers embellish this Chinese hair pin. It has phoenix birds with flame-shaped tails and irises as part of the design. The pair sold for $854.

Birds’ feathers furnish the iridescent blue color on some antique Chinese jewelry. Gold-colored necklaces, earrings, pins and even hair ornaments were made in China with kingfisher feathers before the first century.

Few collectors know how difficult it is to make the delicate blue jewelry or how easily it is damaged. The metalsmith places thin strips of hot gilt copper on a flat outline of the finished piece. It is cooled, cleaned and polished, and glue is put into the empty spaces created by the strips. Then, using tweezers, small pieces of the fragile, shaped feathers are put on the glue. The feathers tend to rot over time, so few of the pre-1600 pieces remain. Most similar 20th-century jewelry is made with blue enamel, not feathers, because of efforts to protect the kingfisher.

A few pieces of antique kingfisher feather jewelry made from the 1600s to the 1900s were sold at a recent Neal auction for affordable prices. A pair of Chinese hairpins, each 5¼ inches long with gilt copper outlining blue birds and flowers, was estimated at $400 to $600 and sold for $854, including the premium.

Q: We inherited a table and we are having trouble finding its value. It was bought in Granada, Spain, during the early 1970s and shipped to the U.S. with a duty value of $1,500. The table is wood with geometric inlay and panels that look like Arabic characters. It has two sets of legs, a shorter set for use as a coffee table and a taller set allowing it to be used for dining or games. The 37½-inch-top is octagonal. Your help identifying the table and value would be appreciated.

A: Your table is decorated with marquetry. In Spanish it is called “taracea.” The Moors were the first in Spain to cover surfaces of furniture with geometric patterns made of wood, bone, metal and ivory. The Moors left a legacy of Hispano-Moorish art and design, and Granada still is a center of cabinet work. Multi-sided table tops with star patterns surrounded by floral designs and geometric borders were common. Your table was made by Laguna Taracea in Granada. The company was established by ancestors of today’s owner, Miguel Laguna, in 1877. The characters on your table are Arabic for “God is the greatest.” Tables similar to yours have sold for about $2,000.

Q: I found a creamer in Mom’s home after she died. It’s marked with a crown above “Eschenbach” and “Bavaria-Germany.” She and my dad were in Europe after World War II. Can you tell me who made this and about how old it is?

A: “Eschenbach” is a brand name used by more than one porcelain factory located in Windischeschenbach, Bavaria, Germany. A pottery was established there in 1913 and made ceramics three years later. Oscar Schaller & Co. took over the pottery in 1928. The company made Eschenbach and other household and decorative porcelain. In 1950, the factory was taken over by Gebruder Winterling A.G., which continued to make Eschenbach porcelain. Winterling went bankrupt in 2000 and the trademarks and assets sold. The factory closed in 2003. This mark is no longer being used.

Q: About 30 years ago I won an animation cel in pencil from “Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night.” The tube it came in was from the Cambridge Exchange Limited Inc. in Pompano Beach, Florida. There is a certificate of registration with this information: “Hand drawn in pencil, U.S. GA Reg. No. 9123965. Artist: Filmation Studio, 1987 Number: one of a kind original, Retail Value: $500.00.” What is it worth now?

A: “Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night” was a 1987 animated film produced by Filmation Studio. It can take 24 cels to produce one second of animation. Each cel starts out as a pencil drawing on paper. A piece of celluloid or acetate plastic is put on top of the drawing and the picture is traced with ink onto the plastic or by a xerograph. Then, the color is filled in on the opposite side. The cels are then photographed in sequence to make a film showing moving figures. Collectors tell us the most valuable cels are the original ones used to make the movie. The subject should be an identifiable character looking at you with eyes open. Original Disney cels can sell for $1,000 to $1,500. Your cel is not from the 1940 Walt Disney movie; it’s from the later Filmation film and not worth as much. Cambridge Exchange is out of business.

Q: I’d like some information about a vase I found in a home we bought. It’s marked “McCoy” on the bottom. Can you tell me more about it?

A: Your vase was made by the Nelson McCoy Pottery Co. in Roseville, Ohio. Nelson McCoy and his father, J.W. McCoy, started the Nelson McCoy Sanitary and Stoneware Co. in 1910. Art pottery was made after 1926. The company became the Nelson McCoy Pottery Co. in 1933. The factory closed in 1990. Pottery with the McCoy mark also has been made by other companies unrelated to the original company since 1991.

Tip: If possible, vacuum, don’t dust, your books to prevent the spread of mold spores.

Write to Kovels, The Daily Herald, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

Current prices

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.

Thimble, c-scroll band, 18 karat gold, continental, 1¾ inches, $140.

Cheese trolley, mahogany, curved, applied half turnings, casters, 6½ by 16½ inches, $210.

Satsuma, jar, flowers, butterflies, cream ground, handles, Japan, 13 by 8½ inches, $555.

German silver, figurine, knight, shield, sword, glass stones, 9¾ inches, $750.

Doorstop, poinsettia, two-tone, red, green, stenciled pot, 9¾ inches, $840.

Apothecary cabinet, pine, 36 drawers, dovetailed, porcelain pulls, old grain paint, 14 by 48½ inches, $1,020.

Toy, bus, seeing New York, Mama Katzenjammer, Happy Hooligan, Gloomy Gus, Kenton, 10½ inches, $1,440.

Chair, Egyptian Revival, parcel gilt, bone, mother-of-pearl, paw feet, 43 by 24 inches, $1,665.

Ohr, vase, straight neck, round body, ocher, raspberry, speckled glaze, impressed, 4¾ by 5½ inches, $1,820.

Fireplace mantel, walnut, serpentine shelf, raised panel, flowers, circa 1775, 45 by 82 inches, $1,920.

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