It is not easy to identify antique and vintage ceramics, because many were made by small local potteries and not marked. Workmen often moved to another factory but continued to make the same type of wares and decoration.
Spatter ware is a pottery decorated with paint that is actually spattered on the plate by flicking a stick dipped in the paint. Very similar decorations were made by dabbing paint on with a sponge. Many collectors think spatter and sponge are the same, so you must check any written descriptions.
Both types of folk pottery were made in the early 1800s in Scotland, Italy, Holland, France and the United States. Similar dinnerware and other household dishes are still being made but with the help of machines, not often by hand. Tulips are often pictured either as part of a border or as a single flower in the center.
Conestoga Auction Co. sold a collection of this type of pottery, with many early examples selling for hundreds of dollars. A plate with a border of green and blue spatter stripes and a center with two stylized tulips did not have a maker’s mark and sold for $224.
Question: Over many years, I became a plate collector, assembling many numbered sets of various themes. Among them are collections of limited plates patterned after creations by Charles Wysocki, such as Wysocki County Corners. I have about a dozen collections from Wysocki to Norman Rockwell renditions. They were all purchased through the Bradford Exchange. Have they maintained their original values or appreciated in value?
Answer: Collecting limited edition plates became popular in the 1970s, but interest has faded in recent years. Many collector plates sell for $10 or less. You can check prices on sites like eBay but be sure to check “Sold” prices. Asking prices are usually higher.
Q: While cleaning out an old root cellar, I found what seems to be a sample case of Texaco Oil products. There are 20 bottles with different liquids in them. The labels list the ingredients and have the Texaco logo on them. The logo is a white circle outlined in black with a red star and a green “T” in the middle of it. The bottles are 6 inches high and about an inch around and all have cork stoppers. Are they of interest or value to anyone?
A: You have a salesman’s sample case. There are collectors who want sample cases. Collectors of advertising items and those interested in automobile-related items would also be interested. Texaco started out as The Texas Co. in Beaumont, Texas, in 1902. Texaco was a brand name the company used, but it didn’t become the official corporate name until 1959. A red star representing Texas was first used as a logo in 1902 and was trademarked in 1909. The logo on your bottles, a red star on a white circle with black outline, was used from 1936 to 1963. The value of sample cases depends on what type of case it is and the condition and desirability of its contents. Sample cases similar to yours have sold for $150 or more in recent years.
Q: I would appreciate any information you may have on a vintage bottle marked “Federal law forbids sale or re-use of this bottle.” I’m pretty sure it’s about 55 years old.
A: During Prohibition (1920-1933), old liquor bottles were often used to hold homemade liquor. A law prohibiting the resale or reuse of used liquor bottles was passed in 1935. This prevented homemade liquor from being passed off as legal by bottling it in used “legal” bottles. The law was repealed on Dec. 1, 1964. A few liquor bottles with this wording were made in 1934 after the law was passed but before it was in effect, and it was used on some bottles into the 1970s.
Q: My husband’s aunt gave us a bed years ago for our son to sleep in. On the back of the headboard was a small paper specifying that this was a bed Calvin Coolidge slept in. When we moved, the paper was lost. It had been taped to the back of the bed. My husband’s aunt has passed away. Is there any way we can validate the bed belonged to Calvin Coolidge?
A: Probably not. Even if you still have the paper saying it was Coolidge’s bed, it would have to be authenticated. A picture showing the bed in his boyhood home would help. Calvin Coolidge became president on Aug. 3, 1923, after President Warren G. Harding died suddenly. Coolidge was sworn in at his boyhood home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. The home is now owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. The Museum & Education Center there might have something in its archives that shows a picture of Coolidge’s bedroom and includes the bed. Check the website CoolidgeFoundation.org for information on how to contact them. You can also try contacting the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum (ForbesLibrary.org/Coolidge).
TIP: Use a soft bristle toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach spots on silver or jewelry.
Terry and Kim Kovel answer readers’ questions sent to the column. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at [email protected].