Were rag rugs made of wool strips first made in Canada 150 years ago to cover dirt floors? Or were they first made in England during the early 19th century from short pieces of yarn left over from making woven rugs in a weaving mill? Some even say the Vikings were first to make the rugs.
Collectors want hooked rugs made as early as the 1830s. Almost all old rugs offered for sale are made on backings of free burlap from old feed sacks after 1850. Some of the better-known rugs of the 1900s were made with strips of used clothes. Grenfell Mission rugs of 1916 used silk stockings, and in the 1950s, nylon stockings or T-shirt strips. The rugs became so popular that classes were formed, lessons were given and commercial patterns were sold. This folk-art craft of the poor was wanted by decorators for the well-to-do, so prices went up.
Today, collectors pay the most for early rugs with animal designs or flowers. Rugs made from pre-stamped Edward Frost designs on burlap backing made in the late 1800s also get high prices. All Grenfell Mission rugs and mats are popular, and contemporary mats from the original old patterns still are made.
Hutchinson rugs designed in the 1920s to 1940s are desirable. They often have funny pictures and sayings. A rug showing a man chasing a woman that reads “Take, oh! Take Those Lips Away!” sold at Garth’s Auctioneers for $1,560.
Q: I have a shell-shaped silver-plate dish marked “W” and “A” in shields with something that looks like a carpenter’s compass between the letters. Below that, it reads “England.”
A: Your dish was made by William Adams Inc. of Birmingham, England, and New York City. The company was founded in 1865 and specialized in making compasses. The company also made masonic jewelry and reproduction silver pieces. Much of its silver plate was exported to the United States. The company claimed use of this mark beginning in 1899. Goods exported to the U.S. had to be marked with the words “Made in” and the country of origin in 1921, so your dish was made between 1899 and 1921. The company was bought by Henry Jenkins & Sons Limited, but the date is unknown.
Q: I found an old scale, and I’m having a difficult time getting information about it. It’s cast iron, and has a beam with weights. The base is marked “Property of the U.S. Postal Dept.” in a circle, and the beam is marked “Jones of Binghamton.” I want to auction it for charity, but don’t want to offer it without a rough value.
A: The history of your scale should encourage a good price at auction. Edward F. Jones (1828-1913) was born in Utica, New York, and grew up in New England. He fought in the Civil War before moving to Binghamton to open a scale manufacturing plant. Jones Scale Works was established in 1865. The name was changed to Jones of Binghamton in 1876. The company made many types of scales — for farmers’ hay and grain, coal, cotton and merchandise. Jones served as police commissioner, parks commissioner and lieutenant governor of New York. His son took over the business when Jones became blind at the age of 79. He died in 1913, and the company operated until about 1916.
Collectors love old scales. You have a countertop platform scale. It has a small scoop on a platform on the top for weighing letters and a larger platform on the bottom for packages or bulk mail. It could weigh items from 1/2 ounce to 240 pounds. Your countertop platform is worth $90 to $110.
Q: What is goofus glass?
A: Goofus glass is a type of pressed or mold-blown glass made from about 1900 to 1920 by several American factories. It was the first “carnival glass,” an inexpensive glass given away at carnivals, movie theaters, gas stations and other businesses. The glass was cold painted in bright colors and originally sold under names like “Egyptian Art,” “Golden Oriental” and other exotic names. The colors weren’t fired on, and they flaked off after repeated washing. Because of this, people began calling it by the less flattering names. There are several stories about how it got the name “Goofus glass,” but no one knows for sure where the name came from.
Q: My father was a Lalique glass collector. We inherited several lovely pieces and have no idea where to sell them. I would appreciate suggestions as to where the best venue for these items might be.
A: Lalique glass and jewelry were made by Rene Lalique (1860-1945) in Paris, France, between the 1890s and his death in 1945, and some still is being made. A manufacturing plant was built in Alsace in 1921. Lalique and Art & Fragrance became part of the Lalique Group in 2016. Lalique now makes perfume bottles, jewelry, sculptures, vases and other decorative objects. Vintage Lalique glass pieces sell for several hundred to several thousand dollars. You should contact an auction house to sell your Lalique. Be sure to ask what the seller’s fees and other costs are.
Q: I have a Haeger planter and want to find out what it originally cost, but the company has ceased operations. Can you tell me where I can find that information?
A: Haeger Potteries Inc., began making artware in 1914, but the company traces its beginnings to 1871, when David Haeger founded a brickyard in Dundee, Illinois. The pottery closed in 2016. Several planters were listed in Haeger’s 1951 catalog for prices ranging from $3 to $16. A 7-inch cube was listed for $5 in 1951, which is equivalent to $47 in 2017 dollars. We found a cube planter offered for sale recently for $5. Although the price is the same as in 1951, the value of the dollar has gone down. If you paid $5 for the planter in 1951 ($47 in 2017 dollars) and sell it for $5 today, you lost money on your investment.
Tip: Never wash a “flannel” (also called a “blanket” or “felt”), the small pieces of fabric packed in cigar or cigarette packs about 1914. Some valuable flannels picture baseball players. Washing the fabric will cause it to fade. Instead, put dry flannels and a clean, dry towel in the clothes dryer set on the cool setting. A few tumbles will remove dust.
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. Write to Kovels, The Daily Herald, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., 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.
Fireplace log bin, copper, oval, straight sides, handles, 1800s, 14 by 27 inches, $30.
Kutani, vase, fluted body and neck, 10 facets, double phoenix, sharkskin, 10 by 5 1/2 inches, $105.
Quilt, applique, five pots of red poinsettias, white background, 81 1/4 by 67 1/4 inches, $180.
Coca-Cola toy truck, yellow cab, wood-stake open body, decals, wheels, tin litho, Marx, 19 inches, $210.
Icon, mother and child, painted faces, brass overlay, walnut shadowbox, 13 3/4 by 11 3/4 inches, $240.
Captain Marvel, toy cars, four racers, clockwork, multicolor, box, Automatic Toy Co., 4 inches, $330.
Coffee mill, Enterprise Co., red, two wheels, cast-iron drawer, wood base, 14 by 10 inches, $425.
Animal trophy, elk, shoulder mount, 6-point antlers, circa 1950, 58 by 56 inches, $485.
Scrimshaw, scraping tool, lignum vitae, dolphin shape, tail up, brass tacks, 6 1/2 inches, $970.
Furniture, mirror, Hepplewhite, giltwood, gesso, phoenixes, flowers, urn, ribbon, putti, swags, 54 by 26 inches, $510.