Nations, like people, have special parties and observances to celebrate birthdays and other successes. In 1876, the United States celebrated its 100th birthday with the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia. It started on May 10 of that year. The exhibition celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
There have been many other exhibitions and fairs, and some collectors specialize in souvenirs, posters and even pieces of buildings or exhibits from these important national events. Medals, photographs, postcards, even sugar packets and other special food-related items have been saved, as well as toys, books and clothing from the fairs, and they sell easily today. The Centennial items are easy to spot from the logos that were used over and over at the fair.
Many items, like this red cloth bandanna, had pictures of presidents Washington and Grant, images of some of the exhibition buildings and, of course, the official name of the event.
One well-known furniture company made a group of tables and other furniture with special inlay trim. They included a symbol in a circle for each of the four major industries in the country and the dates 1776-1876. The furniture today sells for more than $1,000 a piece.
But a less expensive souvenir, this bandanna, sold at Conestoga Auction Co. this year for only $71. It can be stitched to a piece of unbleached muslin and framed as a picture (the stitching can be removed leaving it in nearly perfect shape), or it can be dry mounted and framed.
Q: We are cleaning out my grandparents’ house, and I found a 22-inch-high dark green vase. It has “Louwelsa” curved above the name “Weller.” Any idea what it is worth?
A: What you have is a Weller Pottery umbrella stand. Weller Pottery started in 1872 in Fultonham, Ohio, moving to Zanesville, Ohio, in 1882. By 1915, Weller Pottery was the largest art pottery in the world. Pottery lines included Louwelsa, Eocean, Dickens Ware and Sicardo. Weller closed in 1948. An umbrella stand in good condition sells between $600 and $800, depending on its color, design and condition.
Q: We bought a Drexel dining-room table and six chairs in the 1960s. The style is mid-century modern, but the chairs have unusual backs with spindles that are flattened about two-thirds of the way up. The table is 60 inches by 29 inches by 40 inches and has two leaves. It’s stamped underneath with “Drexel Declaration, 850-330-37, 2/61.” I’ve heard mid-century modern furniture is popular again. What is this set worth?
A: Drexel Furniture Co. began making moderately priced oak furniture in North Carolina in 1903. Higher-end furniture was made beginning in the 1930s. In the 1950s, Drexel began buying other companies, including the Heritage Furniture Co. The company name became Drexel Enterprises Inc., in 1960 and was changed to Drexel Heritage Co. in 1968. After changes in ownership, Drexel became part of Authentic Brands Group in 2020. Drexel’s Declaration line was designed by Stewart MacDougall and Kipp Stewart in the late 1950s. It was made of walnut with a choice of white porcelain or brass pulls on drawers. The line has the spare look of Danish modern, but the dining chairs are inspired by Shaker furniture. The numbers stamped on your table include the model number and indicate it was made in February 1961. Midcentury modern furniture is popular again, and pieces sell for high prices. A Drexel Declaration table and six chairs are worth about $1,000 to $1,500.
Q: I have had a teddy bear for a long time and would like to know more about it. It has glass eyes, a stitched nose and mouth, and rather long brown fur, not plush. The bear’s arms, legs and head move. It has a cloth tag that says “Made in Federal Republik of Germany.” How old is it, and what is its value?
A: The first “teddy bear” was inspired by a 1902 cartoon showing President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear tied to a tree. Morris Michtom asked his wife, Rose, to make a stuffed bear based on the incident to display in the window of their Brooklyn, New York, store. Several customers wanted to buy the bear, and Michtom wrote to the president for permission to call it “Teddy’s Bear.” Roosevelt granted permission and the Michtoms began production. They founded Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. a few years later. Steiff began making a version of the teddy bear in Germany about 1902. Teddy bears are collectible. If the bear was made by a famous maker or has special features, it’s more desirable. The tag helps date your bear. It was made between 1949 and 1990, when the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) existed. East and West Germany were reunited in 1990. It’s not possible to estimate the value without knowing the maker and size of the bear.
Tip: Keep humidity levels between 45% and 55%. Over 65% is dangerous for your collectibles. It encourages mold, fungus and mildew. Too dry an environment encourages wood cracking, color change, flaking paint, yellowing of paper and destroys fabrics.
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.
Advertising soda fountain tumbler, 7-UP, green glass, cylindrical with pinched sides, white, UP logo with bubbles on each side, 1940s-1950s, 5¼ by 2⅞ inches, $35.
Louwelsa pottery vase, painted blackberry vines, leaves and fruit, shaded dark brown glaze, tapered tall cylinder form, handle, signed “M. Lybarger,” impressed Louwelsa mark on bottom, 12¾ inches, $135.
Box, letters, mahogany, open lattice sides, hinged lid with two slots for letters and plaques for “Answered” and “Unanswered” flanking a brass scroll handle, two shaped open compartments on sides, bun feet, England 1800s, 6 by 10¾ by 6 inches, $250.
Furniture, desk, Queen Anne, tiger maple, heavily figured, slant front over four dovetailed drawers, turned pulls, fitted interior, New England, late 18th century, 42½ by 36 by 19 inches, $440.
Minton plate set, Denmark pattern, iron red flowers, leaves and scrolls, white ground, eight-sided, impressed and stamped Minton marks, 10½ inches, 12 piece, $565.
Paperweight, scarab, blue matte glaze, impressed Grueby mark, 1½ by 2¾ inches, $625.
Glass decanter, gold Favrile glass, double gourd body with applied lily pads all around, shaped stopper, paper label for Tiffany Glass & Decorating Co., early 1900s, 9¼ by 4¼ inches, $790.
Print, Japanese, woodblock, Kawase Hasui, Lingering Snow at Hikone Castle, from Selections of Views of the Tokaido, color, published by Watanabe, marked with seal in margin, 1934, 14¼ by 9⅜ inches, $875.
Radio, Sparton Bluebird, round, blue mirror with painted wooden case, black ball feet, Walter Dorwin Teague for Sparks-Withington Co., 1934, 14½ inches diameter, $1,875.
Jewelry, pendant, bow, set with diamonds, three dangling pearls, each with different cap decoration, white and black diamonds, 18K white gold, enamel, chain, La Nouvelle Bague, pendant 2⅜ inches, $2,125.