Figurine brings happy marriage to owner
Once long ago in China there was a pair of immortal twins, one bringing harmony and the other union, according to the legends. So, artists made figurines showing the twin brothers, who were called "He-He."
They often were pictured and given to brides, because it was thought they brought a happy marriage. A recent auction had a 5-3/8-inch figurine of He-He wearing green-and-black, flower-decorated robes.
It is easy to recognize the brothers; one carries a lotus flower, and the other carries a box. The auction figurine also had the traditional unglazed base. The twin boys modeled together as a group was estimated at $800 to $1,200, but no one bid high enough.
Perhaps the bidders did not know the figures would lead to a happy marriage.
Q: My friend currently has her floor-model Enterprise coffee grinder for sale for $600 and I want to know how much it's worth. Is she too high or too low on price? It's in good shape.
A: Enterprise Manufacturing Co. was founded in Philadelphia in 1864. The company's 1904 catalog of "patented hardware specialties" included kitchen utensils like grinders and choppers, apple peelers, cheese knives, cherry pitters, graters, jelly presses, raisin seeders, sad irons and slaw cutters, as well as banks, bung-hole borers, faucets, flag holders, lawn sprinklers, tobacco cutters, traps and more. The company was sold to Silex in 1955. Enterprise's floor-model coffee grinders were made in several sizes. Its value depends on condition and size. They usually sell for $500 to over $1,000.
Q: I thought the very strange and modern Memphis furniture was made in the U.S. But I'm told the idea behind the Memphis group was created by Ettore Sottsass, an Italian.
A: Memphis is a design group that started in Italy in 1981. It is said that the name Memphis came from listening to Bob Dylan's song, "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again." Sottsass, already a famous designer, joined others to make colorful mass-produced furnishings with plastik laminate. They made expensive limited editions of furniture, clocks, fabrics, glass, jewelry and ceramics inspired by many old styles. The group only lasted until 1988, and the brand was acquired by Ernesto Gismondi of Artemide, a lamp company. The best known piece by Sottsass was not part of the Memphis group. It's called "Valentine," a pink Olivetti typewriter he designed for the company in the 1960s. The piece that made me realize I had very conservative taste was what I call the Memphis "boxing ring," a fenced-off space in the center of a large room used as a conversation area for guests.
Q: Is there an easy way to date an unused postcard? I know the amount of the postage stamp has often changed and there are lists of the prices and dates. But when were photographs rather than color pictures used? When was it called a "postal card"?
A: Postcard collectors know and have listed the table of postage and postcard changes online, and they are in our book "Kovels' Know Your Collectibles." A postal card is an early card called "pioneer" with no picture used from 1893 to 1898. A government-printed card had printed postage, a privately-printed card required a stamp and a divided-back card was used from 1907 to 1914. Photochrome cards were used after 1939. Collectors call them photographs, although many are lithographs with a shiny finish. Real photo cards were used since 1900. If you want to sound like an expert, refer to them as RPPC. Used cards can be dated by the amount of the postage stamp; the postmark; a two-digit postal code, used after 1943; and a five-digit ZIP code, used after 1963.
Q: My father told me Rose China was the first china allowed to be manufactured by Noritake after World War II. I have 24 place settings, plus platters, serving casseroles, gravy boat, etc. They are marked on the back with a red rose and the words "Rose China" and "Made in Occupied Japan." Does it have much value?
A: A porcelain factory was established in Noritake, Japan, in 1904. Dinnerware was made for export to the United States beginning in 1914. Porcelain was made for the Japanese market beginning in 1928. No china was exported during World War II. Immediately after the war, material was hard to get, and the porcelain was not as high-quality as before the war. Noritake used the name "Rose China" on dinnerware made in 1946 and 1947 because it wasn't up to the company's high standards. China made in Japan and exported to the United States when American troops occupied the country from 1945 to 1952 was marked "Occupied Japan." There are collectors who look for Occupied Japan china. A five-piece place setting of Rose China was offered for sale, at retail, for $70, a gravy boat for $36 and a covered vegetable dish for $65.
Tip: For your health and the well-being of your collection, do not smoke. The nicotine will stain fabrics, pictures and wood.
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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.
Lunchbox, "A Kiss For You," girl feeding a Hershey's chocolate kiss to boy, blue, metal, latch and top handle, c. 1970, 6 x 5 inches, $20.
Tablecloth, cotton, red and white checkered pattern, scroll and leaf design with fringed edge, early 1900s, 88 x 56 inches, $75.
Honey box, pressed glass with etched honeybees and beehives, dome lid, finial and splay feet, Indiana Glass Co., c. 1910, 4 x 6 inches, $150.
Ashtray, oval, hammered iron, molded catfish center and wavy rim, c. 1900, 7 x 5 inches, $330.
School dental chart, pull-down poster depicting teeth and natural human dentition, paper on linen, Hagemann, 1960s, 67 x 47 inches, $525.
Shortwave radio, rounded box shape, brown and tan, 65 watt, AM/FM, pushbuttons and knobs, 1950s, 15 x 23 inches, $1,250.
Hand guard for Samurai sword, Tsuba, iron, old man at waterfall, round with cutouts, marked, Japan, c. 1800, $2,300.
Music box, windmill shape, gilt bronze with enamel panels, propellers move, velvet lined lid, hexagonal base, Austria, 1900s, 9 inches, $3,490.
Filing cabinet, oak and paneled sides, 8 drawers with brass pulls and label holders, square feet, Library Bureau, c. 1900, 52 x 33 inches, $4,000.
The 50th Anniversary edition of Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2018 will be published in September 2017. The book includes a special new section containing Terry Kovels' reflections on 50 years of collecting, with prices, trends, special events and surprises. Kovels' 50th Price Guide will be available soon at KovelsOnlineStore.com.