Once in a while, an unfamiliar design shows up in an auction.
At the beginning of this year, the Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches listed a tea set, two cups and a teapot with an Art Deco look and unfamiliar marks. The set was white with black and red blocks of color. The teapot had a vertical spout and rectangular handles creating a new geometric shape.
The mark solved the mystery once it was translated. Written on the bottom of each piece in the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet was the word that translated to “Supremist.” Next to it was the familiar hammer-and-sickle logo.
Some quick research told the story: It was an example of Supremist Art popular in Russia from 1913 to the late 1920s. (The teapot was dated 1923.) The Russian who created the style claimed it to be superior to all art of the past. It was totally abstract, based on the circle, square and cross and the colors red, white and black.
Yet something — the extreme look of the set, the high estimate of $7,000 to $9,000, the lack of demand for a teapot with cups instead of a set with teapot, creamer and sugar, or perhaps the Russian origin — kept bidders away. The group did not sell.
At any auction, there can be valuable items that are passed over because the day’s crowd is looking for something else. Timing and location do have an effect on prices.
Q: I have a piece of pottery with a printed mark of a ship on top of a globe. Below that there is a banner with some words I can’t read. I can make out the word “England,” There also is a banner above the mark, with some blurry words. Who made this dish?
A: W.H. Grindley & Co., a pottery in Tunstall, Staffordshire, England, used this mark from about 1880 to 1914. The pottery was in business from 1880 to 1960, when it was bought by Alfred Clough Ltd. The pattern name is on the banner at the top of the mark.
Q: I’m trying to find the thermos for a 1968 metal dome-top Snoopy lunch box with “Have Lunch with Snoopy” on one side and “Go to School with Snoopy” on the other. I’ve seen them with different thermos bottles, so I’m assuming the sellers are just putting what they can find with them. Which is the correct thermos? I found a plastic one that looks exactly like the lunch box, details and all, but since it was plastic and not metal, I wasn’t sure.
A: King-Seeley Thermos Company made this metal lunch box from 1968 to 1972. A yellow plastic version of the “Have Lunch with Snoopy” lunch box also was made. Some sources show the yellow plastic thermos with the metal dome-top lunch box, but most sources show the metal lunch box with a metal thermos bottle picturing Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Schroeder and Snoopy playing baseball. The thermos bottle picturing the whole gang also has been shown with a matching square metal Peanuts lunch box. The metal dome-top lunch box with thermos is worth about $100.
Q: I have a small clear vase with a “Kosta Sweden” blue label. It is very thin glass, has no etchings, is approximately 41⁄2 inches tall and has no other markings or color. Can you tell me any information about the maker?
A: Kosta has been in business in Sweden since 1742. The company name combines the first few letters in the last names of the founders, Anders Koskull and Bogislaus Stael. Kosta made window glass, glass for light fixtures and drinking glasses until the late 1890s, when it hired its own designers and started making art glass. The name became Kosta Boda after Kosta merged with Boda and Afors in 1976. Your vase was made after 1891, when the country name was required on goods imported into the U.S., and before the 1976 merger. In 1989, Kosta Boda merged with Orrefors and was renamed Orrefors Kosta Boda. The company was sold to the New Wave Group in 2005. The Orrefors factory closed, and only the Kosta Boda label is used today.
Q: I inherited an old teapot my parents said is from the 1800s. It’s marked “James Dixon & Son” on the bottom. What is it worth?
A: James Dixon (1776-1852) began working in silver in Sheffield, England, in 1806. He worked in partnerships as Dixon & Smith in 1806, as Dixon & Son in 1823 and as James Dixon & Sons in 1835. At first, Dixon and his partner made silver spoons and buckles for shoes. The company made electroplated Britannia, nickel silver and silver-plated wares. By the 1870s, it was the largest manufacturer of Britannia metal. Britannia is a pewter alloy made from about 92 percent tin, 6 percent antimony, and 2 percent copper. This name “James Dixon & Sons” was used as a mark beginning about 1851. A trumpet and banner were added to the mark in 1879. James Dixon & Sons became part of British Silverware about 1983 and production stopped in 1992. James Dixon & Sons teapots sell for $30 to $75.
Tip: If you buy an old piece of furniture, smell it. If it smells musty, there must be mold spores somewhere, perhaps on the bottom of the seat. Wipe the furniture with denatured alcohol. Finished wooden surfaces can be cleaned with furniture cleaner.
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.
RS Prussia, celery dish, pink roses, green leaves, light green ground, white handles, 13 1/2 by 7 inches, $30.
Bossons, wall mask, man, smiling, green hat, split moustache, 6 by 5 inches, $20.
Bottle, soda, Catawba Club beverages, 8 1/2 inches, $120.
Mardi Gras, parade bulletin, Krewe of Proteus, Zoraster, Walle & Co., 1912, 28 by 42 inches, $340.
Trunk, Louis Vuitton, monogram, garment bag, rolling, 54 by 22 1/4 inches, $365.
Cupboard, bonnetiere, Louis XIV, stepped crown, three-panel door, drawer, block feet, 86 by 28 inches, $400.
Paul Revere, pitcher, yellow and cream lotus blossom border, taupe, handle, Saturday Evening Girls, 9 by 10 1/4 inches, $510.
Clarice Cliff, vase, bizarre ware, pink flowers, magenta outline, blue ground, 4 1/4 by 8 inches, $615.
Doulton, vase, incised horse, blue chalice band, blue scroll band, Lambeth, Hannah Barlow, 11 1/2 inches, pair, $670.
Tinware, coffeepot, wrigglework, potted flowers, interlacing bands, circa 1840, 11 inches, $1,830.