Interest in advertising art keeps rising

Terry Kovel
This Hires tin sign, 21 x 15 inches, was originally made without a frame. It sold recently at a Morphy auction for $960. 

Advertising art is very popular today and prices keep rising. Collectors want old examples with good graphics, recognized products and great condition. A small amount of restoration is OK. Anything that mentions a product for sale is considered "advertising," even labels on bottles and cans. Most companies keep the look of their ads the same for many years.

Hires Root Beer used a small child in a bib and a distinctive type style for the word Hires. In 1915, they used the googly-eyed man called Josh Slinger, the soda jerk. He was indeed googly-eyed. But most of Hires ads had few pictures, just descriptions of its health values or the good shape.

This tin sign, probably made in the 1920s, features an attractive flapper girl. She is enjoying a glass of Hires Root Beer. If you look closely, you can read the tiny word "good" before the slogan, "and it's always pure. Hires in bottles." 

Hires was developed by pharmacist Charles Hires in 1876, but root beer was already a known drink. He improved the taste of a health drink that was made with many herbs including sassafras oil, a plant root extract. In 1960, sassafras was banned because it contained a carcinogen. Later, they found a way to remove the harmful chemical and still preserve the flavor, so it was still used.

Hires Root Beer was a leading drink, but the company has been bought and sold so often, the drink is now almost out of production. Old Hires advertising is hard to find today, but beware of the pottery mug with a baby wearing a bib. Reproductions are easy to find.

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Q. I have an American Theatre Wing pin I found in a box lot I bought at an auction. It's 1 3/4 inches wide. Can you give me any information about it?

A. Seven women involved in the theater started the Stage Women's War Relief in 1917 to provide support to American soldiers in World War I. It was reestablished as the American Theatre Wing of the Allied War Relief in 1941, when the United States entered World War II. The American Theatre Wing is still in existence, based in New York, and focuses on "education and the advancement of theatre in service of community." The Wing founded the Tony Awards for excellence in theater in 1947. The award is named for Antoinette Perry, one of the women who established the American Theatre Wing in 1941. The pins sell online for a wide variety of prices, from $35 to $90. There are variations in color, and some have an extra piece at the bottom like "Hospital Committee" or "Stage Door Canteen" that might add value.

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Q. I have a Kaviska pitcher. I cannot find any other items with this name. Can you help?

A. You have a piece of Gouda pottery. Collectors use that term for art pottery made in and around Gouda, Netherlands, since about 1898. "Kaviska" is a pattern name. It was made at Plateelfabriek (pottery factory) Schoonhoven in the town of the same name near Gouda. It began making pottery in 1920 and is still working. The sale of decorative pottery decreased during the Depression, and the Schoonhoven pottery replaced expensive designs and hand painting with simpler designs, many spray glazed. Abstract flowers in aqua, orange, yellow and lilac were common on pieces such as bulbous vases and pitchers like yours. Pieces were marked with "Schoonhoven Holland," the mold number, pattern name and sometimes an artist's symbol. Your pitcher was probably made in the mid-1930s and could sell for up to $100 if in excellent condition.

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Q. My dad has been going through items collected over the years and came upon a medal that is a cross with a man's profile. The words "Albertus Animosus" are in the center, and a crown over a shield and "1850" is on the reverse. There's a ring at the top so it can be hung from a ribbon. What is this and what's its possible value?

A. This is a medal for the Albert Order, a Saxony order established in 1850 by Frederick Augustus II. The award was for "useful service to the state," including civil service, art and science. The man pictured was supposed to be Albert III (Albert the Bold), Duke of Saxony, but the wrong image was used until 1875. Several versions of this medal were made. By the time the order was abolished in 1918, there were nine different classes, each with a slightly different medal. Medals with the wrong image are rarely found today. A plain medal like yours is worth about $175. Those that are enameled and include gold swords or other decoration sell for more.

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TIP: Toothpaste makes good silver polish. It also can be used to clean ceramic doll faces. A toothbrush makes a good small scrubber.

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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. 

Garden table, rectangular glass top, scrolling concrete bases, iron mounts, 80 x 46 inches, $120.

Icon, traveling, triptych, passing of Mary, saints, red, blue, green, enamel, silver, Russia, 1 x 2 1/2 inches, $250.

Moorcroft, vase, Lamia, yellow iris, water lilies, cattails, corseted, Rachel Bishop, 1995, 10 x 4 1/2 inches, $290.

German, porcelain group, pianist, dancers, lace, crinoline, flowered skirts, 11 1/2 x 16 inches, $385.

Apache, basket, coiled, stepped geometric pattern, checkerboard pattern, central circle, 15 inches, $640.

Bohemian, glass lusters, green, shaped rim, reverse tapered stem, flowers, crystal prisms, 11 inches, pair, $700.

Stand, renaissance revival, red marble, inverted gothic arches, drop finials, turned supports, dolphin corbels, deer, 16 1/2 x 12 inches, $1,035.

Royal Copenhagen, tureen, Flora Danica, lid, branch handle, flowers, gilt, multicolor, footed, 7 1/2 x 15 inches, $1,540.

Gertrude & Otto Natzler, bowl, mottled red over black, fluted rim, small base, signed, 2 x 6 1/4 inches, $2,430.

Fenton Off Hand vase, red Karnac iridescent, cobalt blue hearts & vines, applied cobalt blue handles, 1925, 9 x 6 inches, $10,325.

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