Pot Holes and Pottery

There is nothing like doing research on pots to learn little known trivia.  In his book Manufacturing Processes of Tableware During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Robert Copeland explains in the Appendix of the book under Pottery Trade Sizes how the potter working with raw materials dug from the ground learned to be intensely practical.  According to Mr. Copeland, who I had the pleasure of meeting while attending the Northern Ceramics Society summer school in Chester several years ago, the ever practical and sinful Burslem potters in the seventeen century when they ran short of clay dug some clay from the road. Thus the term “potholes” was born!  

Most  journeymen, journeywomen and some of the masters potters in the early days of the Staffordshire pottery industry were illiterate. A system for establishing wages had to be simple and easily understood.  The method adopted was based on the “dozen” for which one price was fixed for a single size of each object, so that to obtain that price a maker needed to make twelve articles.  The price per dozen held for all the other sizes made of the same design, but, in order to obtain that price either more smaller articles or less larger ones had to be made.   The “count to the dozen” was determined by the number of pieces of a given size would fit on a standard size of work-board in the case of clay articles, or which would fit into a warehouse basket, in the case of fired ware. This information all becomes important to the appraiser when appraising a set of 19th or earlier china because of the variance in sizes of plates and other pieces.  While plates were generally 10″, 9″, 8″, 7″, 6″, 5″, and 4″ manufacturers often increased the actual diameter of the plate charged them to the customer, and paid the maker at the lower price so often a 10″ trade plate might measure 10 1/2″.  All this also affected how the tradesman and the potter was paid.  This is a very interesting book and one collectors of porcelain and china would find beneficial in understanding the processes that go into making and sizing of dinnerware of the 17 and 18th century. 

For example, a plate made by Royal Crown Derby may measure 9 3/4″ with none of the replacement patterns showing a 9 3/4″ plate. There is a maker’s name, but no pattern number and a red mark. Royal Crown Derby did not use a pattern name or number on pieces made in the early 1800’s.  They used a number in their pattern books.  Therefore, in a recent appraisal I was able to date the piece with the help of the Royal Crown Derby company, in Burslem, but could not identify the pattern by name.  This is one of the challenges that face an appraiser and keep the profession interesting.        

Checked your insurance policy lately for coverage of your antiques?

As an appraiser I tend to take care of other’s peoples needs far more than my own. My latest homeowner’s insurance policy caused me to take a second look at the coverage for my antiques. Yes, I do have them including some furniture, lots of carnival glass, Belleek porcelain, blue transferware plates, china, depression glass, etc. I also have some nice jewelry my husband of 48 years has given me. I called the agent and discovered I only have $1000.00 coverage on my antiques and $1000.00 on my jewelry! She then informed me I needed an appraisal! Well guess what I am an appraiser and now I have to have someone come appraise my property. So don’t think because you have household contents coverage your antiques are all covered under the contents. Check with your agent and call a certified appraiser to appraise for insurance replacement cost of your property. To further protect yourself inventory the items, photograph them and give a copy to a trusted friend on put on a flash drive in a safe deposit box. In case of loss it will jog your memory.

Washington to Obama Presidential Campaign Buttons

Now that the 2012 presidential campaign is over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief from robo calls and television ads, it’s time to think about what to do with those bumper stickers, convention badges, political buttons and assorted merchandise related to the campaigns.

Anderson Americana, an auction company which regularly holds auctions of political and historical memorabilia held an auction July 10-11, 2012. A catalog of this auction is available from Anderson Americana, Troy, OH. The most expensive button sold was the 1960 campaign between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. The 4 inch celluloid button with “America Needs” and “Kennedy” centering a black and white photograph of John Kennedy sold for $806.00. A 1948 “Truman for Me’ celluloid 11/16” button sold for $50.00.

One of the common terms found in descriptions of political buttons is “jugate”. This means the button has a pricture of the presidential and vice presidential candidates side by side. Like all collectibles the older, rarer, and mint condition buttons are generally more valuable than those with missing pins and damage. A 1904 campaign campaign button printed in red, white, blue and gold for the Democratic candidates, Alton Parker and H. G. Davis centered by an image of the Democratic elephant surrounded by various slogans and in fine condition was reported as valued at $644.00 in the 2008 Antique Trader Collectibles Price Guide.

Not all campaign buttons are old. Reproduction buttons have been issued in 1972 and later dates. If you are considering collecting visit the web pages of collectors such as Hake’s Americana & Collectibles, Ron Wade, John W. Davis, E-Bay, Legendary Auctions Seacom Enterprises. These web sites provide an education in the collection of political memorabilia.

Grape and Cable Collection

Grape and Cable Collection

“One Big Happy Family” room display of Grape and Cable pitchers, tankards and tumblers.

ICGA Carnival Glass Convention

The International Carnival Glass Association Convention was held July 11-14 in Springfield, Illinois. Attendees at the convention were invited to visit individual collectors rooms where displays of carnival glass were presented. A display of colorful five-inch to seven-inch plates of many patterns and finishes was available for viewing in the main convention room. Visitors to individual display rooms were able to learn from the collectors about patterns from various manufacturers and countries. One room display featured glass from Germany, England and Czechoslovakia. Seeck Auctions ended the convention with the sale of a portion of the Leonard Collection of carnival glass. Details of the auction will be included in a future post.