Mention Tiffany and collectors may think of the very different things made by Louis Comfort Tiffany. He was so talented that it is almost impossible to know everything he did.
He was a popular designer and creator of glass, pottery, jewelry, windows, lamps and even houses, rooms and gardens for many years, then fell out of favor less than 10 years after he died. But today, everything he did is back in style.
Charles Lewis Tiffany, Louis Tiffany’s father, started a jewelry store in 1837 that still is in business with the name Tiffany & Company. Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) started his own business in 1879 and named it Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists (1879-1902). He also was a decorator for his father’s company in the early 1900s. The name was changed to Tiffany Studios after his father died in 1902, and he became vice president. L.C. Tiffany usually signed his name on his famous iridescent glass instead of the Tiffany Studios company name. He also signed his name on his paintings and sketches. The jewelry and clocks he designed were made by and signed Tiffany & Company. The Tiffany Glass Company made the glass for the windows and lamps, but many of the windows were never signed. And Tiffany couldn’t sign the houses and gardens he designed or decorated, even major decorating jobs at the White House, the Presidential Palace in Cuba, and his own homes.
Many metal and glass desk sets, paperweights, candlesticks, bookends, glass scarabs and other small objects also were made. Today’s collectors and art buyers want anything with any of the many Tiffany marks, and some — like the best lamps — sell for over $100,000. The record price for a Tiffany lamp is $2.8 million.
Q: At an antiques show in Pennsylvania, I saw a small quilt that was labeled a “privy bag.” Of course I know what a privy is, but I’ve never heard of a fancy bag used to hold toilet paper in an outhouse. I have a bet with my husband that it is dealer’s joke term.
A: You lose. There are references online dating back to 2010 for books and exhibits in Pennsylvania that feature quilted privy bags made to hold toilet paper. Some examples were at a recent show and one was priced $995. There are other kinds, some embroidered, some from fancy fabric and some just reusable cloth food sacks. The quilted ones have almost all been reported from the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area. Privy toilet paper often was pages of the old Sears and Roebuck catalog, or squares of newsprint that were stored on a large nail. A decorative holder was crocheted in the 1920s-’30s from directions in some sewing magazines. A full, round, colorful crocheted skirt was made to fit a small doll. The legs of the doll were stuffed into the cardboard center and the skirt covered the paper. It was kept near the seating area. Few outhouses in the United States today are left in camping and hiking areas. The parks furnish a portable biodegradable kit that is carried out of the park at the end of the hike.
Q: I think I have a Collier Holland No. 561 planter. The planter is oval, slightly bulbous and has a rolled rim. It looks like the Collier pattern made by Gouda pottery, but it does not say Gouda. Other markings on the bottom are two diamonds, one above the other, and a stylized house. Have you come across anything like this?
A: Gouda pottery is popular with collectors. Gouda, Holland, has been a pottery center since the 17th century. And Gouda is the generic name for pottery made in several factories there. Some early Gouda items are marked with only a pattern name, or a pattern name and a number, and with or without the word Gouda. The Plateelbakkerij Zuid-Holland or PZH factory was founded in Gouda in 1897. In about 1910, the company developed a new process to make matte glazed pottery. Your planter has a version of the famous PZH logo — the little house that represents the Gate of Lazarus, once an impressive stone doorway of the leper infirmary in Gouda. The two diamonds, tip to tip, are the date mark for 1923. Gouda planters of this era sell for about $125 to $250.
Q: I’d like to know what my “Punch and Judy” bank is worth. The bottom is embossed “Made by Shephard Hardware Co., Buffalo, N.Y.-USA, Patd in U.S. July 15 84 and July 22nd 84, Rd in England.” The “stage” is a gold color and the characters inside have reddish-gold hats. The back is black.
A: Mechanical banks became popular after the Civil War. Several hardware companies made cast-iron toys and banks. Shepard Hardware designed and made 15 different banks between 1882 and 1892. Their banks are heavy, well made, and were hand-painted. The “Punch and Judy” bank has two levers. One lever sets the figures in position. The second lever is pressed after putting a coin on the tray. Judy turns and deposits the coin in the bank, and Punch tries to hit her with a stick. Shepard sold its bank business to J. & E. Stevens Company in 1892. That company continued making three of the Shepard Hardware banks, but did not make Punch and Judy. Reproductions have been made. The originals were not all gold in the front but were painted bright colors, usually yellow with red-orange trim and blue-gray curtains. The back was orange. In excellent condition, they can sell for $1,500 or more. In fair condition, they sell for $300 to $750. Your bank seems to be a reproduction with modern gold paint. New replica banks still are being sold for about $20.
Tip: Use coasters under glasses and flower vases on marble-topped tables. Marble can stain easily.
Write to Kovels, The Daily Herald, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.
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.
Rockingham pitcher, raised arm, hammer, inscribed protection to American industry, 9 inches, $90.
Inuit snow goggles, caribou hoof, triangular, slits, leather straps, 1900s, 1⅜ x 5¼ inches, $125.
Inkstand, bronze, onyx, enamel, opaline glass pot, front pen rack, ball feet, France, 1800s, 3½ x 8½ inches, $155.
Window, leaded, transom, slag glass, beveled, green and red border, scroll, leaf, berries, 22¼ x 36¼ inches, pair, $175.
Christmas cookie jar, drummers drumming, around Christmas tree, Fitz & Floyd, 18½ x 13¾ inches, $245.
Royal Copenhagen urn, potpourri, cherub finial, gilt, flowers, double handles, Juline Marie mark, 20 inches, $250.
Cabinet, Louis XV, vitrine, gallery, shelf, courting couple, landscapes, electrified, 58 x 28 inches, $1,125.
Silver epergne, trumpet-shaped vase, fruit, leaves, seated putti, dolphin supports, Germany, 10¼ x 10¾ inches, $1,250.
Royal Worcester urn, reticulated, knopped finial, domed lid, pierced, leaves, flowers, 19 x 7 inches, $,2,700.
Pottery, mid-century sculpture, red fire plug souvenir, Claes Oldenburg, 1968, 8 x 7¼ inches, $8,750.