Buy advertising art from a trusted source

Terry Kovel
This famous sign has been copied many times, but the original is 40 1/2 by 26 1/2, the size of this sign sold by Bertoia Auctions.

How can you tell if a paper poster is old or new? Many have been reproduced.

Sometimes a magnifying glass helps. Reprinted posters usually have small dots visible when examined with a magnifying glass. Sometimes the original is a photograph, so the copy is harder to spot.

Look for extra words at the bottom. Original Currier and Ives prints have a title and perhaps a reference to the Library of Congress. Reprints from calendars have added titles mentioning the company. The calendar was not meant to deceive, but when the pictures are sold separately and framed under glass, it is easy to be fooled.

Buy posters from a source you trust.

We started buying advertising art in the 1960s. One of our first buys was from the man who started "Desperate Enterprises," the company that later made millions of reproduction metal signs and paper posters used to decorate restaurants or family rooms. He sold us the famous "Satin Skin Powder" poster, which pictured a woman with a fan and packages of skin cream, for about $30. A few days later, he called and gave us a partial refund. He found a stack of mint-condition signs - hundreds of them - and cut the price.

Today, there still are many original signs, as well as copies in many sizes.

This sign originally was made for the Alfred F. Wood Perfume Manufacturing Co. of Detroit. It started in 1883 and lasted until about 1910. The company made many cosmetics and perfume. The creams were advertised in newspapers as a cure for "cuts, burns, bruises, scratches and chaps." Samples were available.

The original Satin Skin Cream sign is a chromolithograph and is 40 1/2 by 26 1/2 inches in size. Repros are smaller. An original should cost $250 to $450, while a large mounted and framed reproduction sells for about $100 to $200.

Q: My father has a group of very old telephones and even a 1910 operator's headset in very good condition. He wants to sell them, but is at a loss as to what they are worth. Any help would be greatly appreciated. 
A: Old telephones sell at auctions and at antiques shows and shops. Prices vary depending on the age and style of the phone. Old rotary phone sell for $42-$135. Old wall-mounted crank phones sold for $75 to $120. Most will not work on a new phone line.
Q: I have a dark purple Fenton glass candy dish with fluted or crimped sides. I was told it's "Wistaria" pattern and that Fenton intentionally spelled the word "wisteria" incorrectly. Do you know why?
A: There are two different Fenton patterns: "Wistaria" and "Wisteria." However, your candy dish is Wisteria pattern. Wisteria is a stretch glass pattern made from 1921 to 1928. On the other hand, Wistaria is frosted glass with an acid-etched design, and it was made from 1937 to 1938. The design resembles stylized wisteria blossoms. Fenton may have called this pattern "Wistaria" because it already had a "Wisteria" pattern.
Q: We have an old Lane cedar chest. The style number is 2648-82 and the serial number is 2865110. I have not been able to find any information on it, like when it was made or its value. Thank you for your help.
A: The Lane Furniture Company was started in Virginia in 1912 by Edward Hudson Lane. The company started making cedar chests in the 1920s, which were marketed as "hope chests." In the 1950s, Lane also made television cabinets and occasional tables, then bedroom furniture and recliners in the 1960s and '70s. Learn the age of your Lane cedar chest by examining the serial number. Read this number backward to determine its age. For example, your chest's number is 2865110, so the production date is 01-15-68, or Jan. 15, 1968. Sometimes there is an extra digit that indicates the plant where the chest was made, like the "2" on your chest. The last Lane cedar chest was made in 2001, then the plant closed. Old Lane cedar chests sell from $100 to about $700 depending on the age, condition and whether the hardware is original. Most are worth about $200 to $400. Cedar chests made before 1987 have lids that automatically latch shut when closed, which poses a suffocation risk to children. Chests made after 1987 have               a newer safety lock. Lane will replace old locks for free (visit or call 800-225-0265). 
Q: I looked at many Hall teapots online and have been unable to find a teapot like mine. It's an Airflow, black with a gold spout, and what looks like a gold Chinese design. The number is 0450S, and it says it's 8-cup. Is this a knockoff? 
A: From 1938 through 1941, the Hall China Company of East Liverpool, Ohio, produced whimsical teapots in unique shapes that are sought after by collectors today. The Airflow teapot was one of these. It was first released in 1940, and its round shape and swooping handle hint of the beginning of Atomic Age design. The Airflow, like other Hall teapots, was made in many colors and sold either plain or decorated. Some, like yours, had Hall's Standard Gold trim. In 1984, Hall introduced reintroduced Airflow and some other teapots. The reproduction teapots have the company's post-1969 square mark. Your 8-cup Airflow teapot looks like it is from the 1940s. It is worth about $40.
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Tip: If the drawer on your antique-looking furniture is held together with new screws, nails or staples, it is not an antique.
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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.
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Coca-Cola, sign, woman, white feather hat, green border, paper on wood, 26 x 37 inches, $50.
Political banner, "Win with Wilkie for president," red, black, white ground, 25 x 16 1/4 inches, $110.
Side Table, round, human legs, pink skirt, shoes, 35 x 24 inches, $240.
Libbey, jug, rum, flute, cranberry cut to clear, stopper, 6 1/2 inches, $480.
Lamp, sconce, two-light, George III, carved giltwood, metal, bows, wheat, swags, Italy, c. 1920, 29 inches, $840.
Shaker, washing machine, walnut, brass parts, three tubs, hand cranked turning wheel, model, 3 1/4 x 11 inches, $1,880.
Candelabrum, three-light, empire, bronze, gilt, nike holding cornucopia, lyre, black, France, 1800s, 19 1/2 inches, pair, $2,640.
Ohr, vase, folded rim, ochre, green, gunmetal, 1897-1900, 5 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches, $4,380.
Sampler, register, strawberry vine cartouche, 16 1/2 x 15 inches, $4,500.
Dirk Van Erp, lamp, electric, hanging, bean pot, copper, hammered, mica, 1915-29, 10 x 11 inches, $5,320.
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DVD sets of Seasons 5, 6 and 7 (12 episodes each). Plus, get a FREE DVD with bonus episodes from seasons 5-7 with your order! Available online only at for $29.95 each, or buy the combo for the sale price of $59.95 (you save $29.90), plus $4.95 postage. You also can order by phone at 800-303-1996 or mail a check to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.