Emile Galle was a famous artist, a leader of the Art Nouveau movement in France in the mid-1800s.
He started his art while working at his father’s furniture and pottery factory. By 1877, he managed the factory and started making clear glass. He soon developed a style of his own making vases of heavy, opaque colored glass in layers that he carved into plants and flowers. He called it cameo glass.
In 1878, his exhibit at the Paris Exhibition made him famous, and he promoted Art Nouveau designs in his glass and in the marquetry on his furniture. By 1885, he founded a workshop for furniture and made pottery. Many modern collectors only know about Galle’s cameo glass, yet his pottery and furniture are often sold at shows and auctions.
Furniture can be identified by the script name “Galle” as part of the marquetry design. The heavy faience (pottery) vases have thick walls, curved patterns and rounded edges and rims. Each is colorful and decorated with natural shapes of plant life.
But little is written about his seated faience. Each cat is about 12 inches high and 7 inches wide. Most are glazed yellow, although some are blue, black or green, with small scattered hearts and circles as decorations. A few have elaborate drawings of flowers covering the body. Every cat had glass eyes and a grin.
Morphy Auctions sold a signed pair of yellow Galle figurines with scattered hearts and circles on a yellow background for $1,476 despite minor damage. At first glance they look like two cats, but one is a frowning bulldog. We wonder why cats are almost the only animal figure he made.
Q: I have a picture of Tom Mix that was signed personally to my uncle Ronald. Might this have any value?
A: The value of an autograph depends on the fame of the person who signed it, rarity and condition. Handwritten, signed letters usually sell for the most money, an autograph on a piece of paper or card, or cut from a document, for the least. A picture that is inscribed, personally autographed to someone and signed, is usually worth less than a picture with just the signature. An autograph signed in pencil isn’t as desirable as one signed in ink. Tom Mix (1880-1940) was the most popular Western star of his era, starring in over 200 films from 1910 to 1935. Most were silent films. He had his own radio show beginning in 1933. He died in 1940 when his car overturned in a crash. If you want to sell the autographed picture, you should contact an auction that sells autographs and celebrity memorabilia. A photo card of Tom and his horse, inscribed to someone, sold at auction for $250, other pictures for $2,000.
Q: My mother-in-law wants to sell a Van Briggle lamp she got at the factory in Colorado many years ago. It has a matte, turquoise-colored figural base of a woman holding a jug on her shoulder. The matching shade has butterflies on it. How do I help her sell it?
A: Van Briggle Pottery started in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after 1901. The factory closed in 2012. This lamp is called “Damsel of Damascus.” The figure represents Rebekah, who appears in the Bible with a jug of water on her shoulder. Abraham’s servant was sent to the well to choose a wife for Isaac and was told to choose the damsel who would let down her jug and give him and his camels water to drink. This lamp was made in the mid-20th century. It sells for about $150-$200, but you’ll probably only get half the retail value.
Q: We have a Patent Magneto-Electric Machine for Nervous Diseases. It’s in a wooden box. We’d like to know the history and value of this machine.
A: The electromagnetic machine is a quack medical device popular in the late 1800s. The patient held a metal cylinder in each hand while the operator turned a crank to deliver a mild shock to the patient. The flow of electricity was regulated by the speed at which the crank was turned. Some claimed it could cure diabetes, heart disease, cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases. A Davis & Kidder’s Patent Magneto-Electric Machine for Nervous Diseases, patented in 1854, sold at auction for $360 in 2018.
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.
Bookends, horse standing by stall door, cast metal, bronze color, pair, 6¼inches, $75.
Rosenthal fish tray, fish, clams, pond, acanthus leaves, coral, gold trim, 14 by 9 inches, $220.
Dresden vase, double courting scenes, iridescent maroon border, gold highlights, two gold handles, 8¼ inches, $290.
Coralene vase, gold highlights, blue flowers, green leaves, orange background, 1909, 5 inches, $320.
Indo Bakhtiati rug, orange field, geometric medallion, ivory border, 8 feet 9 inches by 11 feet 10 inches, $560.
Sampler, Tree of Life, serpent, flower and vine border, fruit basket, animals, yellow, green, circa 1820, 16½ by 16½ inches, $580.
Galle cameo vase, pink and white background, green leafy overlay, signed, 7¾ inches, $830.
Berkeley Mills “Prairie” sofa, square, cantilevered armrests, two seats, block feet, 27½ by 90 inches, $960.
Porcelain group, woman playing mandolin, man playing cello, dancers, courting couples, continental, 15½ by 22 inches, $1,540.