Ad signs as collectibles

Terry Kovel
This charming lady from the 1920s is promoting Edison-Mazda lamps (light bulbs) in a store. The life-size stand-up sign looks real and probably stopped many customers. She was kept in a shipping box until recently, when she was auctioned for $775.

 Advertising signs are popular collectibles at antiques shows, but some are sold as art at galleries or auctions. Travel posters, French Art Deco wine ads, Art Nouveau ads by Alfred Mucha, magazine covers by Rockwell Kent, pictures from calendars by Maxfield Parrish and many other commercial prints are valuable.

Also high-priced are ads that might seem worthless, but are decorative or conversation pieces.

Wm Morford Auctions had a successful advertising sale that included a life-size cutout of a woman with bobbed hair, a straight dress and low-heeled shoes called Mary Janes. The sign was promoting light bulbs in a box labeled "Edison Mazda lamps." The clothes, size and brand name, plus its almost-perfect condition, made this store display desirable and dated as circa 1920s. The sign sold for $775.

General Electric registered the Mazda name in 1909. Before that date, every light bulb company used a different metal base and a carbon filament inside the glass bulb. GE used a tungsten filament that gave more light, but cost more. They licensed the Mazda name, socket size and filament technology to other companies, and the Edison Company used them. The Edison-Mazda name was used until 1945. The name Mazda still is used for automobile lights and batteries.
Q: I'm trying to find a value for an iridescent glass Quezal vase I have, but I haven't seen anything like it online. How can I find out what it is worth? 
A: The Quezal Art Glass and Decorating Co. started in Queens, New York, in 1901. The company made iridescent glass and registered the word "Quezal," the name of a colorful bird found in Central America, as their trademark in 1902. The company was sold, and the name changed to the Quezal Glass Manufacturing Co. in 1924. The factory closed later that year. Quezal vases sell for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on size, color, rarity and condition. Your vase needs to be seen by someone knowledgeable to determine the value. If you plan to sell it, you should contact an auction house or antiques shop that sells similar vases.
Q: I inherited a portable Singer sewing machine, and I have documentation from Singer that it was one of the first portables made. I have a certificate dated 1951 and also the serial number. The case is in poor condition, but it's still usable and the machine itself is in excellent condition. Can you tell me how much it is worth?
A: Isaac Merritt Singer received a patent for an improvement to sewing machines and founded I. M. Singer & Co. in 1851. It became the Singer Manufacturing Co. in 1887. Singer is now part of SVP Worldwide, which bills itself as "the world's largest consumer sewing machine company." Singer introduced its first portable electric sewing machine in 1921. You didn't give us the model number or serial number for your sewing machine, but you can do some research yourself. To find the year your machine was made, check the serial number on the International Sewing Machine Collectors' website, Use the model number and year to find prices for machines like yours that have sold online on sites like eBay, Rubylane or Liveauctioneers. If you do not use a computer, go to your local library for help.
Q: I'd like to know the history of gold-colored tableware. I have several pieces of Dirigold flatware.
A: Dirigold looks like gold, but it's an alloy of aluminum, copper and other metals. It was developed in Sweden in 1914 by Carl Molin. He and Oscar von Malmborg began producing Dirigold and exporting it to other countries. A sales office was opened in Minneapolis in 1924. Shortly after that, a factory was opened in Kokomo, Indiana, where flatware and hollowware were made. The company went into receivership in 1930, was sold and became American Art Alloys in 1935. The company made Dirigold flatware and holloware. After the Federal Trade Commission sued the company in 1935, saying "Dirigold" was misleading because it didn't contain any gold, the company changed the name of its product to Dirilyte. The company name was changed to Dirilyte Company of America. It became the Dirilyte Company, Division of Hand Industries, Inc. in Warsaw, Indiana, in 1971. Production of Dirilyte stopped in 1986. 
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Q: I have a blue porcelain teacup decorated with gold "LP," a crown and laurel leaves for King Louis Philippe of France. It has three marks on the bottom, "Chateau Des Tuileries," "Sevres 1836" and another mark I can't decipher.
A: Sevres porcelain has been made since 1769. The name originally referred to the Royal Porcelain factory, but now is used for any porcelain made in the town of Sevres, France. The "Chateau Des Tuileries" mark indicates the piece was made for King Louis Philippe's palace in Paris. He was King of France from 1830 to 1848, when he abdicated and left for England. Copies of Sevres porcelain pieces have been made and the Sevres mark has been forged. Sevres blanks also were sold and decorated by others. The factory got rid of a large stock of blanks after Louis Philippe abdicated. Since so many new copies of old Sevres are made and sold, we can't tell you what your teacup is worth. 
Tip: Aluminum chairs and other brushed aluminum from the 1950s can be cleaned with a silver polishing paste or a metal cleaner.
Need prices for your antiques and collectibles? Find them at, our website for collectors. You can find more than 1,000,000 prices and more than 11,000 color photographs that help you determine the value of your collectibles. Study the prices. Go to the free Price Guide at The website also lists publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques, show lists and more. adds to the information in this column. 
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
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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.
Terra cotta sculpture, sitting man, braiding ropes, long gloves, 10 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches, $70.
Toy, tractor dump truck, black rubber tread tires, crawling, tin lithograph, Marx, 14 inches, $120.
Music, Melodeon, SD & HW smith, rosewood, reticulated music stand, 32 1/2 x 56 inches, $180.
Tiffany glass, bowl, gold iridescent, scalloped rim, wide ribs, favrile, 1920s, 2 1/4 inches, $210.
Kitchen, trencher, maple, rectangular, rounded ends, robin's egg blue exterior, 5 x 20 inches, $240
Schneider, glass, vase, trumpet-shaped neck over sphere, orange, yellow, round purple base, c. 1900, 14 3/4 x 4 3/4 inches, $345.
Altar Table, hardwood, cylindrical legs, Chinese, 40 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches, $545.
Silver-Scottish, bowl, scalloped walls, repousse mythlogical masks, shells, 9 3/4 inches, pair, $605.
Wall hanging, embroidered, phoenix, flowers, leaves, Japan, 80 x 53 1/2 inches, $1,090.
Shaker, abacus, 12 rows, steel rods, rectangular frame, multicolor beads, 14 3/4 x 12 inches, $1,510.
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