Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Vintage Coca-Cola memorabilia: Original or fake?

Bottles, trays, openers, tiny cars and trucks, calendars and signs are just a few of the pieces Coca-Cola has produced over the span of its 126-year history. While these marketing and advertising items were never intended to be collectors’ items, their presence in people’s lives has gained them sentimental as well as real dollar value the world over. And for some people, amassing Coca-Cola keepsakes has become a lifelong passion.

Valuable, early pieces of Coca-Cola memorabilia are often reproduced or faked. Fortunately knowledge of Coke's changing designs can often help to date and authenticate pieces, as many fakes are not accurate. Further confusion arises as some companies who produced Coke advertising in the early 20th century used outdated logos. Pieces by such companies may seem to be earlier than they are but they are not actually fakes.Compare your piece to authenticated originals in reference books and look for differences in the detail. If you can't find an authenticated example of your piece in a reference book, you may have what is known as a 'fantasy'. Such pieces were never released by Coke and have been subsequently invented by forgers.

Forgers sometimes produce Coca-Cola items such as gumball machines, cash registers, penny scale or cast iron banks and toys. But, one should know that these items are pure fake for the simple reason - Coca-Cola company never produced any of those items. So it is impossible to find them as the authenticated items.

Monday, December 15, 2014

What makes antique fashion valuable?

As more and more people buy into the vintage trend, distinctive and well-made fashion accessories have increased in value. The greatest prices are likely to be paid for pieces made by couture houses, but stylish items from other makers can be surprisingly valuable too.

If you are planning to sell, bear in mind that while some collectors buy shoes and accessories to record developments in fashion or because they like the work of the particular designer, most people buy to wear. For many, wearing a vintage accessory is an easy way to add an individual touch to a modern outfit and there is a young and enthusiastic market for pieces such as handbags, scarves, shoes and ties.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Antique copper, brass and pewter

Today many copper, brass and pewter items are obsolete because people are no longer using these objects. However, because they add visual warmth and charm to a home, attractive pieces in good condition still appeal to collectors.

17th century Dutch brass candlesticks
Copper and brass objects became common in the home during the 17th and 18th centuries and these early pieces are the most desirable for buyers today. Items from the 19th and the early 20th centuries are typically not as valuable. Many people keep their brass and copper highly polished, which removes patina. Unlike silver, most brass and copper objects were unmarked until the Companies Act of 1862. This can make dating difficult, but not impossible, if you know what you are looking for. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dating antiques: Late 19th-century style

As the century progressed, and countries such as Italy and Germany became unified, a sense of nationalism pervaded in Europe. This led to a revival of the dominant styles of the previous 500 years, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo. New methods of mass production made goods more affordable and available but it also provoked the Arts and Crafts movement as a reaction against it.

Motifs from architecture

The first of these revival styles was Neo-Gothic. Motifs taken from architecture, such as pointed arches, latticework and quatrefoils, and heraldy, were used on furniture, fabrics and tablewares. Stained glass was revived for domestic use.

In France and Italy, there was a return to the Renaissance style. Oak and walnut furniture was carved with spindles and fretwork. Meissen and Sèvres produced porcelain decorated with classical figures, grotesques and scarabs. In Britain, many factories began making a form of richly glazed ceramic known as ‘majolica’. Its name was based on that of maiolica, a type of tin-glazed earthenware produced in Italy from the Renaissance period.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The object of the day: Flowers on a marble ledge by Elise Bruyere

Flowers on a marble ledge (1776 to 1847 France)
by Elise Bruyere  (1776-1847)

Oil on canvas

26.00cm wide 37.00cm high (10.24 inches wide 14.57 inches high)


Description / Expertise
Élise Bruyère was the daughter of Jean-Jacques le Barbier, who was a noted writer, illustrator and painter of French historical scenes. Both Élise and her sister, who was also a painter studied with their father and subsequently with Jan Frans van Dael in his studio at the Sorbonne University. She exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1798 and was to become highly regarded in the male dominated art scene of the early Nineteenth Century, winning a second-class medal in 1827.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The care of antique works on paper

Porcupine, 1951, woodcut by Leonard Baskin
All works on paper have special needs; some problems, such as the damage caused by sunlight, have been touched on above, but this needs emphasis, and other risks need to be mentioned. Whether used for drawings, watercolours, prints or books, the healthy survival of paper, or otherwise, depends upon its quality. Until the early nineteenth century paper was made from linen rags, and the cellulose content in linen meant that added chemicals were unnecessary: this type of paper is the most resilient.
Paper made from wood pulp, as much was from the 1840s onwards, included lignin, an acidic light-sensitive substance which eventually turns the paper brown and brittle, while certain methods of sizing paper, and bleaching it, have also caused susceptibility to damage.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Antique Art Deco ceramics

Bright colours and attractive white and cream glazes are the keynotes of Art Deco ceramics. Pottery and tableware took on bold geometric shapes with attractive hand-finished decoration. Brightly coloured glazes were popular in America. China figures were produced in great numbers: favourite subjects were modern women, naked or scantily dressed, sporting figures and animals.

In England the Doulton Lambeth potteries made small bone china figures that maintained a cautious balance between traditional crinolined lady and the modern woman. Figures by Phoebe Stabler, Richard Garbe and Gilbert Bayes are especially collectable. The Wedgewood range of vases, bowls, covered boxes and inkstands, many designed by the New Zealander Keith Murray, epitomize machine age geometry, enhanced by monochrome matt glazes of subdued green, grey-blue and ivory.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Toby jugs

The jug was probably named and modelled after ‘Sir Toby Philpot’ a legendary 18th century drinker, who also made an appearance in Francis Fawkes song ‘The Brown Jug’. It has also been suggested that Sir Tony Belch, a character in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, may have influenced the choice of name.

The first Toby jugs were made in the 1760s in Staffordshire, an area already known for the manufacture of Earthenware figures. Today, one of the most desirable of the early Staffordshire Toby jugs is the so-called Ralph Wood-type. Credited with the invention and spread of the jug, Ralph Wood I produced well-modelled figures decorated with translucent coloured glazes. He was amongst the first English potters to mark his work and Wood signed Toby jugs are particularly sought-after. An unmarked Ralph Wood I jug is usually worth over £1,000, depending on condition, but his rare ‘Thin Man’ jugs can be worth double. Jugs marked with a Mould number are often more valuable and examples signed by Wood command a premium, sometimes over £2,500.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Antique English slipware

Slipware is a type of pottery that particularly flourished in England in the 17th century and the early years of the 18th century. Essentially, it is red or buff earthenware decorated with white or coloured slip (diluted clay) that contrasts with the body. A yellowish lead glaze is characteristic.

Decoration took the form of slip-trailing, applied mouldings or sgraffito. In some areas combed (zig-zag), feathered and marbled patterns were favoured from the early 18th century.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What makes glass valuable?

The discovery that a simple mixture of sand (silica) and sodium carbonate could make glass is attributed to the Mesopotamians 5,000 years ago. We still depend on this formula today, exploring its versatility and beauty in countless ways.

Age is not an accurate barometer of value when assessing glass. A colourful 1950s Murano vase might be worth more than a 2nd century AD Roman glass phial. The assumption that a roughly made piece must be old, or that glass full of bubbles is an antique, isn't necessarily true either.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Antique and vintage dance cards

Dance cards became popular items at balls and assemblies during the early 19th century. They were created as a way for a lady to keep track of the gentleman to whom she had promised dances in the course of the evening, and afterwards served as a momento of the occasion.

Dance cards were generally made of paper or card, although sometimes had elaborate covers of bone, ivory, silver or wood, and were small enough to be readily portable. They were generally given only to ladies.Often a small pencil was attached by a cord to the card. The cord also allowed the card to be suspended from a lady's wrist or belt.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Antique textiles: History of English carpets

The history of English carpets is surely not as rich and old as the Asian, but you can still find some of the facts fascinating. English rugs were not produced until the late 16th century and early 17th century. Main centers for production were located in Axminster, Wilton, and Kidderminster. Distinctive patterns on these antique rugs include deep golden coloration and asymmetrical designs. This was the first place to specialize in new innovative forms of weaving, so people started to call it the carpet capital of Britain. The first steam powered carpet mill was called Stourvale Mill and was build in the early 1850s by Henry Woodward. He and Benjamin Grosvenor, who joined later, operated the mill for a first time. The firm called Grosvenor Wilton Company Ltd. is still a major weaver of Brussels and Wilton carpers with 200 years in business and over 10 000 patents.

But let's take a closer look on the various carpets, which made this historical company. They are marked as the "Stourvale Mill Collection".

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Antique Limoges porcelain

Serious collectors know that Limoges specialise in trinket boxes and that those little boxes are worth more than almost anything that could fit inside them. Antique Limoges porcelain is considered the finest hard paste porcelain in the world because of three very specific characteristics.The first being the essential ingredients used in creating Limoges porcelain are all local natural ingredients, kaolin, feldspar and quartz. Then the intense firing process that forms the superb glaze that cannot be penetrated by the elements and gives Limoges porcelain that exquisite translucence. Finally, an abundance of skilled artists and the French flair for aristic design set a standard that other Europeans and American porcelain producers struggle to emulate.

Limoges Coronet hand painted porcelain wall plate
So, if your grandchild has just lost her first tooth or received his first haircut. How do you commemorate such a momentous event? Believe it or not, you’ll find an exquisite Limoges porcelain trinket box designed especially to memorialize those first strands of snipped hair, or that first lost tooth.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The object of the day: 19th century needlework instruction book

One of two extremely rare needlework instruction books with samples from the female model school
Kildare Place, Dublin, Ireland
Sold: $3,304.00($2,800.00)
Comprising "A Concise Account of the Mode of Instructing in Needle-Work... " printed by Thomas I. White, Dublin, 1833, and "Specimens of Needle-Work Executed in the Female Model School..." printed by George Folds, the cover inscribed "Sarah Darby 1837" and including cloth samples of sewing, darning, embroidery, knitting, and miniature clothing. Each in marbleized covers, largest 9 ¼ x 6 inches. (One illustrated)
Provenance: Witney Antiques, Oxon, England.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The object of the day: Caddy spoon by Omar Ramsden

Omar Ramsden caddy spoons were used to measure tea leaves from the caddy to the teapot. This spoon, by Omar Ramsden and Alwyn Charles Ellison Carr, has a planished finish and central red enamelled panel. The price is estimated GBP 1,200 - 1,800. 

The work of Omar Ramsden has become highly desirable in recent years. He produced high-quality re-interpretations of Tudor and Celtic silver, metalwork and jewellery, often featuring hand-hammered finishes, enamels and applied decoration. Ramsden operated a small workshop from 1898 - 1919 in partnership with Alwyn Carr, and went on to register his own mark in 1919.

His workshops produced a large volume of ecclesiastical, civic and corporate work in the Art Nouveau and Art & Crafts styles. He produced numerous presentation pieces and private commissions. His works often have the engraved inscription 'Omar Ramsden Me Fecit' ('Omar Ramsden made me').

Friday, January 10, 2014

Shaker furniture

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as the Shakers, conducted the largest and most successful communal experiment in American history. While today there is only one active Shaker community, with three members, at Sabbathday Lake in Maine, at its height during the mid-nineteenth century, this Protestant sect had more than six thousand members spread across eighteen communities, from Maine to Kentucky. The largest and most influential community was established at New Lebanon, New York, in 1787 and remained active until 1947.

Shakers first came to America from England in 1774. Led by the prophet Ann Lee, this small and radical group of English Quakers believed that the millennium—the thousand years of peace with Christ before the end of the world—was at hand. Known as the Shaking Quakers, or Shakers, because of their penchant for ecstatic movement and dancing during worship (a physical response to their sense of being infused with the spirit of God), these religious dissidents surrendered themselves to God and emulated Christ’s pure and humble life on earth.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Antique cast-iron toys

Toys and banks (novelty money boxes) made of cast iron are almost exclusively American, and the collecting of these toys is largely an American activity.

Cast-iron banks appeared after the American Civil War when America was swept by a craze for hoarding coins in response to paper money of very low denomination printed by both sides during the war. By the 1880s the banks had become quite sophisticated and increasingly popular.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Early Chinese Porcelain

Some porcelain was produced in the Yuan dynasty (1280 - 1368), decorated in underglaze blue. It took some time, however, for the fashionable celadon wares to be superdeded by the crisply decorated porcelains, which were initially seen as vulgar in some quarters.

In 1368 the Mongol Yuan dynasty was overcome and the Ming dynasty was established: it was to last until 1644. During the early years of the first Ming Emperor's reign, porcelain in underglaze blue or red developed further. By the end of the 14th century, porcelain had gained fashionable status.

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