Sometimes the simplest idea is the best. This 19th-century flask held water for the farmer working in fields far from a stream. It sold at a Hess auction for $325. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Sometimes the simplest idea is the best. This 19th-century flask held water for the farmer working in fields far from a stream. It sold at a Hess auction for $325. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Pottery ring was a lifesaver for parched 19th century farmers

The circular tube was a water flask for when streams were far away. An example recently sold for $325.

A pottery ring about 8 inches in diameter was auctioned recently, and few seemed to understand how it was used.

The pottery was shaped like a tube bent into a circle with an opening at the top. It is a 19th-century stoneware ring flask. Farmers worked in the fields all day and they could carry water in the flask. It was worn on the shoulder, so water was always available. This flask was glazed to look like it is made of pottery, but many examples were more elaborate with incised colored decorations, faces or other slightly raised decoration.

The idea of a ring flask dates to the ancient Chinese.

Examples with little decoration and no signature sell for about $300 to $500. Those by well-known makers can get over $500.

Q: How much are Nancy Ann Storybook dolls worth? I have about 10 dolls in their original clothes, all in good condition.

A: Nancy Ann Storybook dolls were first created by Nancy Ann Abbott in 1936. She started Nancy Ann Dressed Dolls in San Francisco in 1937. Bisque dolls were made in Japan until 1939, when production began in California. Artists painted the facial features. The company name became Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Inc. in 1945. The company was the nation’s largest dollmaker in the late 1940s. After Abbott died in 1964, sales declined. The company went bankrupt in 1965 and was sold. Hard plastic dolls were made in Hong Kong beginning in 1967. Production ended about 1971. The company was sold twice since then and several new Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls were made in limited quantities. The last company ceased production in 2019. Collectors look for the original Nancy Ann Storybook dolls and prefer the early bisque dolls. Rare early bisque dolls made in Japan, in original costume and with box, have sold for $1,200. Early Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls were identified by a gold sticker on the front of their clothing. Wrist tags were used beginning in 1941. Girl dolls always wear a hat or a ribbon in their hair.

Q: I like to do upholstery and have four barrel-shaped club or pub style chairs that I planned to recover. The chairs have dark wood with green leather upholstery and are very worn. But someone pointed out a Karpen tag on one, told me they are very rare and that, to maintain their value, maybe they should not be refinished. Is there value to keeping them as-is? Please help.

A: Solomon Karpen started a furniture workshop in Chicago in 1880. One by one, his eight brothers joined the business, called S. Karpen & Bros. By 1900, it was the largest manufacturer of upholstered furniture in the world. By 1927, Karpen had also built factories in Long Island City, New York; Michigan City, Indiana; and Los Angeles, employing 1,800 workers. The company made an endless variety of chairs for every need, budget and decorating plan. Karpen was in business until 1952. It sounds like your chairs are in distressed condition. Any value they might have would be sentimental, so go ahead and re-finish, re-cover and enjoy them!

Q: My grandfather had a trench art shell casing and I have it now. It has etched designs and the front reads “XANIA KPHTH — 1949.” What is its history, the meaning of the lettering and its value?

A: This is a relic from the Greek Civil War that raged from 1946 to 1949. Greek guerilla forces that helped chase Germany out of Greece at the end of World War II formed the Greek Democratic Army, which was controlled by the Greek Communist Party and supported by Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. They fought against the Greek National Army, which was supported by Great Britain and the United States. The words are Greek and stand for Chania, Crete. The date marks the end of the civil war. Trench art sells by size and decoration. Vases are the most common pieces and sell for about $40 to $200.

Q: How can I find out what sheet music from the 1920s through 1970s is worth? I know they aren’t of great value, but it seems some people would enjoy them.

A: Most old sheet music sells online for about $5 to $10, unless it has some special appeal. Prices can be higher if the subject or composer are of special interest. Some collectors buy sheet music just for the cover art. If you don’t want to bother trying to sell your sheet music online, take it to a local music store, used bookstore or to a store that sells vintage items and see if they’re interested in buying it to sell.

Tip: It is said creativity comes from a messy, cluttered environment. It inspires ideas. Remember that the next time you rearrange your collectibles.

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.

Silver ladle, Royal Danish pattern, International Silver Co., 6 inches, $60.

Chocolate pot, lid, Iris mold, green and white tones, pink and red poppy decoration, marked, RS Prussia, 10 inches, $115.

Copper tea and coffee set, rattan handles, teapot, coffeepot, creamer, sugar, six cups and saucers, serving tray, stamped mark, Harald Buchrucker, Germany, circa 1935, tray, 16 by 11 inches, $185.

Lamp, satin cranberry glass, white daisy and fern design, ruffled shade rim, clear glass chimney, Fenton, 21½ by 6½ inches, $205.

Puppet, Mr. Turnip, lead weighted, painted, puppeteer’s mechanism, “By arrangement with Miss Joy Laury and the B.B.C.,” box, 7 inches, $245.

Suitcase, Louis Vuitton, leather, monogram, tan leather trim, zippers, lock, Saks Fifth Avenue, 1970s, 24 by 19 by 8 inches, $625.

Necklace, Bakelite, patriotic, five blue stars, red and white stripes hanging from gold tone chain, 6 by 2 inches, $640.

Sewing table, Neoclassical, mahogany, carved, drop-leaf top, three drawers, basket, trestle base, casters, circa 1810, 28 by 18 inches, $855.

Nesting tables, beech, mixed wood inlay, flowers, butterflies, maple leaves, heron, inlaid signature, Galle, four tables, 1800s, largest 30 by 24 by 16 inches, $1,625.

Figurine, dogs, Shetland Sheepdogs lying down, terra cotta, label, J.W. Fiske, circa 1870, 15½ by 30 by 11 inches, $3,540.

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