Each of the eight sides of the octagonal case of this sailor’s valentine is 9 inches long, and the case is 18 inches across. The late-19th-century valentine sold for $3,120, almost double the low estimate. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Each of the eight sides of the octagonal case of this sailor’s valentine is 9 inches long, and the case is 18 inches across. The late-19th-century valentine sold for $3,120, almost double the low estimate. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Research shows ‘sailor’s valentine’ wasn’t made by a man at sea

An Antiques Magazine reporter proved the valentines were made by women in Barbados to sell in a gift shop.

You can’t always trust the information in old books and on old websites about antiques, particularly everyday items used in the latter part of the 1800s but not expensive or large enough to be of serious interest to collectors until the 1900s.

A double octagonal frame filled with a design made of seashells is still known as a “sailor’s valentine.” In the 1950s, research said that they were made by sailors on long trips. They made the frames and collected the shells that were artistically placed on a cotton batten background, then covered the work with a piece of glass to hold the shells in place. There were often words: “Love me,” “Home again,” “Home sweet home,” or “A gift from Barbados.”

In 1961, a writer for Antiques Magazine proved that the valentines were made by women in Barbados to sell in a gift shop. A clipping, found when repairing an antique valentine, mentioned the store. The shells were from the West Indies, the wood was Spanish cedar or mahogany, and hide glue was used. Further research found a mention of the shells and the work of the Barbados women in a 1750 source.

A recent marine auction by Eldred’s sold this sailor’s “Love Me” valentine for $3,120. There are very similar modern ones being made, also in octagonal cases.

Q: I have a large aluminum cone-shaped sieve with stand marked “Guardian Service” with the Guardian emblem. I haven’t been able to find anything about it or its worth. Can you help me?

A: Guardian Service cookware was made by Century Metalcraft Corp., a company that started in Chicago in 1933 and moved to Los Angeles in 1938. It closed after the factory burned down in 1956. The Guardian Service line was introduced after the company moved to Los Angeles. Most of the cookware was made after 1945, when aluminum was no longer needed for military use. Guardian Service cookware was sold at home parties. A salesperson cooked a meal for the guests, and the hostess received gifts for holding the party. The first Guardian logo was a knight’s helmet facing left with two crossed swords behind it. Later, the swords were replaced with two stars on each side of the helmet. Still later, three stars were used on each side. The value is $10 to $25.

Q: Can you give me more information about a doll? It’s a kewpie dressed in a blue dotted romper with eyelet trim. It has its original box that reads “Cameo Collectibles” on the front. Can you tell me when it was made and its value?

A: Kewpies were the creation of Rose O’Neill (1874-1944), an author, illustrator, poet and suffragette. They were first pictured in a 1909 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. In 1912, a young sculptor named Joseph Kallus collaborated with O’Neill to create the first Kewpie figures. Soon the impish, cupid-like characters were everywhere. The earliest dolls were bisque, made in Germany. They were marked by a heart-shaped label that read “Kewpie” and “Germany,” and the feet are stamped “O’Neill.” Since then, Kewpies have been made by many firms, of many materials, and with and without clothing. After O’Neill died in 1944, rights to produce “official” Kewpie dolls were given to Kallus and his Cameo Doll Co. by O’Neill’s family. Just before Kallus died in 1982, he assigned his rights to Jesco Inc., which agreed to continue to use original molds. In 2003, Charisma Brands acquired the rights to reproduce Kewpies. You have one of these. The Kewpie dolls are vinyl, come dressed in different costumes, and have a certificate stating “… this Kewpie(r) is created from the original molds …” They do not have the heart-shaped decal that distinguishes the original, older versions, and they sell from about $10 to $35.

Q: My antique copper bowl is lined with silver. Both the inside and outside show the hammer marks made by a metalsmith. It is almost 3 inches high and 8 inches in diameter. The bottom is marked “Gebelein” in a thin rectangle. Under that is a “G” in a diamond, and below that is “Boston.” Is it old? Or valuable?

A: George Gebelein was one of the most famous silversmiths in Boston, and he had an important jewelry store that sold a lot of his metalwork. Your bowl is shown online as an “offering” bowl to be used at an altar. Examples sell for $200 to $400 now, although when they were made some sold for under $50. The silver lining was used to keep the copper from contact with acidic foods that might result in a poisonous substance. It is not safe to use a burned pan with exposed copper. Do not cook or store vinegar, pickles, citrus fruit or other acids, or milk, butter, cream or yogurt where it touches a copper surface. Be extra careful when feeding babies or children.

Q: I have a collection of American Art pottery, which includes Van Briggle, Roseville, Weller and Francoma. I’d like an accurate assessment of their worth. Can you refer me to someone who is knowledgeable in this area? I have a total of about 18 pieces.

A: You can find appraisers in your area by contacting the three major appraisal groups: the Appraisers Association of America (appraisersassociation.org), the American Society of Appraisers (appraisers.org) and the International Society of Appraisers (isa-appraisers.org). They have lists of appraisers by specialty and location. You’ll have to pay for an appraisal, so be sure to find out the cost. Tell the appraiser what kind of appraisal you want, selling price or replacement value for insurance purposes. Any auction house that has had art pottery sales will also be able to give you an idea of value, and so can appraisers at some antiques stores.

Tip: Remove old staples, rubber bands, paper clips, etc., from paper objects. They can stain the paper.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, The Daily Herald, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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.

Whirligig, red-beaked woodpecker pecking at an apple tree, red, white, green, 19¾ by 46½ inches, $90.

Penny scale, white pedestal, diamonds, black trim, American Scale Manufacturing Co., 45 by 25 inches, $280.

Match safe, Uncle Sam head, bearded, smoking red pipe, porcelain, screw off top, 2 inches, $470.

Bookcase, two-piece, carved, figural frieze, rosettes, baskets, upper glass panel door, lower case with carved drawer over door, 85 by 35 inches, $1,280.

Newcomb College pitcher, tapers, blue flower buds, handle, May Louise Dunn, 7¾ by 5 inches, $2,500.

Marblehead vase, overlapping stylized moths, gray, Maude Milner, Sarah Tutt, 6¾ by 5 inches, $3,125.

George Ohr teapot, branches, crimped lid, round finial with crimped edge, glossy brown, 1900, 5 by 8 inches, $4,060.

Fulper lamp, single socket, glazed earthenware, leaded slag glass, brown, green, yellow, 15 by 7 inches, $7,500.

Bank, political, Benjamin Franklin Butler, bald, thick mustache, greenback frog, yellow waistcoat, 1884, 6½ inches, $7,810.

Dedham vase, oxblood, experimental, glazed stoneware, Hugh Robertson, 8½ by 5¾ inches, $11,875.

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