The robin’s egg blue background and good condition of the 5-inch-round flask with a label-under-glass made bidders offer $400 at a catalog and online auction. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

The robin’s egg blue background and good condition of the 5-inch-round flask with a label-under-glass made bidders offer $400 at a catalog and online auction. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

This round flask with a label under the glass pictures a girl

The robin’s egg blue background and good condition of the 5-inch bottle led to it selling for $468.

Most glass bottles identified the contents inside with embossed letters on the container or a paper label. But a special group, usually apothecary bottles or special gifts, were made with “labels under glass.” The medical bottles usually had a label with a black name written in a fancy type style, gold leaf trim, plus a solid glass cover for the label. It was made to fit into a shaped indent on the side of the bottle, making a smooth bottle with a protected label.

There also were bottles with labels under glass made with color pictures of attractive women, season’s greetings or other messages used for gifts, or barber product containers displayed in barber shops. They were made from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. Decorative “back bar” bottles were often whiskey bottles refilled with colored water when the whiskey was sold. They were probably made before Prohibition.

Condition of these bottles is important. The glass label may crack, and the glue used for the paper label discolors.

A small, round flask with a label under glass picturing a girl was in the recent sale by Glass Works Auctions in East Greenville, Pennsylvania. It was made at the end of the 19th century and sold for $468.

Q: I have a metal letter opener that says “American Malting Co., New York, Chicago, Milwaukee” on the handle. Can you tell me anything about it, possibly age and value?

A: Letter openers were popular advertising giveaways. The American Malting Co. made malt for breweries around the turn of the 20th century. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, grain was malted in small malt houses throughout the United States. Profits were slim and competition was severe. Business often depended on friendships between maltsters and buyers. In 1896, Seymour Scott, a maltster in Lyons, New York, proposed the consolidation of several small maltsters in the area to increase efficiency and profits. It became The American Malting Co. in 1897. By 1900, the company owned 38 malt houses and 41 grain elevators in several cities. The business didn’t do as well as expected and was reorganized as American Malt Corp. in 1905. The name on your letter opener shows it was made before the 1905 reorganization. Plain advertising letter openers sell for about $25. Those with insets, enamel decoration, engraving or other decorations can be more expensive. Tiffany letter openers sell for over $100.

Q: I have many Beanie Babies bought back in the ’90s, when they were the craze. I have many originals, including the purple Princess Diana bear. A couple of websites listed it for several thousand dollars, which I hardly think is possible. Where can I find out a true going value?

A: The first Beanie Babies were issued in 1993 and sold for $5 each. Ty Warner, the creator of Beanie Babies, began retiring a few of the plush toys in 1995, and prices rose as collectors tried to find them. Some people collected them as an investment and paid several times the retail price for certain ones. The first Princess Diana Beanie Babies were made in August 1997, two months after Princess Diana’s death. They were made until April 1999. Proceeds were given to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Although there are online sites asking as much as $135,000 for the “first edition,” a First Edition Princess Diana bear stuffed with polyvinylchloride (PVC) is listed on Amazon for $39; a bear with polyethylene pellets (PE) for $22.

Q: I bought a “personal wash set,” four pieces consisting of a chamber pot, pitcher and two smaller pieces. On the bottom they’re marked “Admiral V.P. Co.” I’ve searched online and can’t find any information on the company or item. It’s a pretty floral pattern, purple flowers on a white background, and is in very good shape. The seller thought the piece was made in the 1800s. Can you tell me anything about this set?

A: Wash sets were used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries before indoor plumbing became common. A washstand, usually in the bedroom, held the items necessary to “wash up.” The pitcher was used to fill a washbasin or bowl. The chamber pot usually had a lid. Other pieces could include a soap dish, hair receiver, toothbrush holder and slop jar. This mark was used by Vodrey Pottery Co. of East Liverpool, Ohio. The company made white graniteware and semi-porcelain. It was in business under that name from 1896 until 1928. A pitcher and bowl set from an average maker sells for $100 to $150, the slop jar with lid for about $75, and small pieces for $25-$40.

Q: My mother bought a Lefton Shoemaker figurine, No. 4718, over 40 years ago, and I was wondering how much it’s worth. It’s in excellent condition.

A: The Geo. Zoltan Lefton Co. was founded in 1941 by George Lefton (1906-1996), a Hungarian immigrant who was a sportswear designer and porcelain collector. He came to the United States in 1939 and founded his import company two years later. Pottery, porcelain, glass and other wares were imported from Japan, and later from Taiwan and Malaysia. The company was sold in 2001. Lefton figurines are selling for low prices, $12 to $50.

Tip: You can tell a piece of jade by the feel. It will be cold, even in warm weather.

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.

Decoy, goose, wooden, black, white, tacks for eyes, 11½ by 9 inches, $125.

Pie crimper, whalebone, fluted wheel, turned handle, 1800s, 6½ inches, $220.

Octant, ebony frame, brass hardware, inlaid scale and marker plate, stepped case, signed Whyte Glasgow, 11¼ by 9¾ inches, $280.

Dr Pepper cooler, “Good for Life,” white print, green, metal handle, 14 by 12¾ inches, $450.

Fulper vase, straight neck, alternating light and dark green glaze, dark brown interior, handles, 1915-1925, 12 by 11 inches, $825.

Spool cabinet, J&P Coats, garage door, knob handle, carved intertwined boarder, oak case, 22¾ by 20¾ inches, $840.

Sewing box, mahogany, inlay, checked banding, open winged eagle, banner, 1800s, 8 by 12¾ inches, $625.

Cinnabar dish, peony blossoms, leaves, shallow sides, short black lacquer foot, 12 inches, $1,000.

Secretary, William and Mary style, walnut, two paneled doors, broken arch pediment over 3 long gradated drawers, 92 by 47 inches, $1,200.

Malachite vase, black and white cameo jewels, hexagonal, tapered shape, stepped base, pair, 22 by 8½ inches, $2,820.

Talk to us

More in Life

Amid pandemic, seniors have second thoughts on where to live

Some decide against communal living in retirement communities, and commit to staying in their own homes as long as possible.

Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake, photographed Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. (Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)
These 4 recipes will prevent the heartbreak of blah desserts

Each of them is decadent and well worth the calories, and they’ll all become your new favorites.

Snohomish Historical Preservation Commission member Fred Cruger with his dog, Duffy, in Arlington along one of the history walk sections at Centennial Trail. The event will be up through September. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Discover local history as you walk the Centennial Trail

Take a smartphone quiz as you stroll the trail. If you answer every question correctly, you’ll win a prize.

A man walks past a free flu shot advertisement outside of a drugstore on August 19, 2020 in New York. (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
Q&A: Who should get the flu vaccine, and when?

Flu shots won’t prevent COVID-19, but it’s still important for everybody to be vaccinated, doctors say.

How to find a healthy ‘normal’ during life’s transitions

Avoiding gaps in self-care requires planning and thoughtfulness. Here are some tips from a doctor.

Rosemary Fish Fillets with Lemon Garlic Pasta. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Lemon, garlic sauce, rosemary make flavorful fish dish

This recipe calls for mahi-mahi, but any type of firm white fish will work — snapper, tilapia or cod.

A course of traffic-cone slaloms is one way to help teens improve their driving skills. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Her teen is putting pedal to the metal for accident avoidance

She signed the new driver up for an advanced collision avoidance class taught by Defensive Driving School.

Seattle filmmaker ‘would have been honored’ by being at Emmys

Lynn Shelton, who died in May, was nominated for directing and producing Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”

Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, now a symbol of peace and reunification. (Rick Steves’ Europe)
Rick Steves: Today’s Berlin is freedom’s victory dance

Checkpoint Charlie is now a capitalist sideshow. You’ll be sold fake bits of the wall, WWII gas masks and DDR medals.

Most Read