Fashionable smelling salt holders
Smelling salts have been used to revive someone who is feeling faint or has lost consciousness since the days of the Romans. But it was not until the 18th century that smelling-salt holders became fashionable.
Smelling salts (ammonium carbonate and water) release an ammonia gas that irritates the inside of the nose and causes rapid breathing. This means more oxygen is inhaled. Ammonia was made from shaved deer horns in ancient times and often was called "spirit of hartshorn." Victorians often used perfume with the smelling salts.
The smelling-salt holder was opened and waved near the nose of the troubled patient. Many of the bottles were curved. Some were made of decorated metal and worn as part of a necklace. Some just looked like small salt shakers. A 2 5/8-inch marbleized glass "shaker" made of light blue and milk glass with a threaded cap sold for $293 at a Norman Heckler sale in Connecticut. It probably was made in Boston about 1850.
Q: We have two Campbell Kids spoons. The end of one of the spoons has a figural Campbell Kids boy and the other a figural Campbell Kids girl. They probably date to the 1940s. Are they worth anything?
A: The Campbell Soup Co. was founded in Camden, N.J., in 1869 by Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson. The Campbell Kids were created by Grace Drayton, a popular illustrator, and were first used in an advertisement in 1904. In 1983 they were redesigned and given a slimmer, more contemporary look. The spoons with figural Campbell Kids on the handle are silver plate made by the International Silver Company and are marked "IS" on the back of the handle. They are worth about $15 each.
Q: I have a chair that I bought in a vintage shop for $55. It's wood with very grand carving, a layer of gesso, then a spattered lacquer finish. It looks relatively modern. In a recent antiques magazine, I saw a very similar chair from a museum that was not modern, but made in 1795. That chair was attributed to French designer Charles Percier and called a "Corvisart" chair. Can you shed some light on this likeness?
A: Your chair does seem like a reproduction of the piece you saw in the magazine. The Corvisart chair is part of the collection of the Musee Nationale de Chateau de Malmaison. Malmaison was formerly the home of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine. The chair was named for Jean-Nicolas Corvisart (1755-1821), who was Napoleon's primary physician. The chair was said to be in his office. Corvisart took care of Napoleon until his exile in 1815. He became a member of Academie Nationale de Medecine in 1820, and died the following year. The chair was designed by Charles Percier (1764-1838), Napoleon's chief architect and designer. The attributed maker is Georges Jacob (1739-1814). He was a prominent Parisian furniture maker, who made carved, painted and gilded beds and upholstered seating for the French royals. Copies of furniture from museum collections are popular and relatively affordable. "Authentic reproductions" are made by modern manufacturers who often pay the museum a fee.
Q: We have an antique plate that we would like a value for. It is by Sarreguemines, signed by L. Moux, and dated late 1800s. Can you help?
A: Sarreguemines is the name of a French town that is used as part of a china mark. Utzschneider and Co., a porcelain factory, made ceramics in Sarreguemines, Lorraine, France, from about 1790. In the 19th century, they made majolica and transfer-printed wares picturing peasants in period costumes. When a local innkeeper wanted a table service with local scenes, a local artist Henri Loux (1873-1907) designed a series of 56 illustrations that depicted the daily lives of the people of the Alsace region. Jugs, plates and other dishes were made using the designs starting in 1904. The dishes have come to be known as the Obernai series. Sarreguemines ceased production in 2007, and the factory no longer exists. A factory at Luneville-Saint-Clement still makes several of the designs that made Sarreguemines famous. Your plate features a scene about the 1898 comic play "D'er Herr Mayor" by painter, writer and creator of the Alsatian theater, Gustave Stoskopf. It is worth about $50.
Q: I have a Muggsy Toothache dog cookie jar. The bow is reddish in color and the imprint on the bottom reads just "Muggsy" and no other markings. Is it worth anything?
A: Muggsy cookie jars were made by Shawnee Pottery in Zanesville, Ohio, beginning in 1946. Several versions were made. Usually the dog is wearing a blue bow. He is looking up at the bow and has three lines between his eyebrows. After Shawnee closed, the molds were bought by the Terrace Ceramics Company, who made plain white Muggsy cookie jars. Your cookie jar that features a dog wearing a red bow was inspired by Shawnee's Muggsy, but was made by Shirley Corl of Caro, Michigan, in 1992.
Tip: When replacing old upholstery, look at the marks left by the tacks. Round tack holes indicate a date after 1880.
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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.
Thimble case, egg-shaped, papier-mache, turquoise blue with pink cherry blossoms, gilt highlights, silk lined, c. 1905, 1 x 2 inches, $25.
Sunbonnet Babies bonbon dish, Thursday Scrubbing, two girls cleaning, goldtone center handle, triangular, c. 1910, 7 1/4 inches, $85.
Watering can, Toleware, cream with brown and green cattails, tapered cylinder, dome base, top handle, 1800s, 10 inches, $150.
Mandolin, wood with gilt designs, steel strings, serpentine top and turned handle, American Music Co., 1800s, 22 x 13 inches, $240.
Hatpin, Carnival glass, flying bat, purple, turquoise, gold iridescent, black ground, stars, triangular, c. 1910, 1 1/2 inches, $325.
Nippon chocolate pot, dome lid, red flowers, leaves, gilt double-scroll handle and loop finial, scalloped beaker shape, c. 1905, 9 inches, $490.
Radio, Motorola Bullet, AM, tube, turquoise blue bakelite, gold bullet-shaped dial, c. 1957, 6 x 12 inches, $850.
Windmill weight, long tailed horse, cast iron, brown and black paint, square base, Dempster Mill Mfg. Co., c. 1905, 15 x 16 inches, $975.
Iron planter, standing cherub boy, draped, holding urn, brown patina, cast, round base, Victorian, c. 1885, 34 x 11 inches, $1,250.
Hall tree, carved wood, brass hooks, mirror, molded cornice, baluster turned supports, shelf, lift top box, 1800s, 89 x 43 inches, $2,750.
There is hidden value in contemporary pottery. You find it at shops and garage sales at low prices because the marks are unknown. Kovels special report "Kovels' Identification Guide to Contemporary American Pottery 1960s to Present" (available only from Kovel) includes more than 180 marks and 60 featured artists. Each artist's biography includes a mark, a pictured piece, and this year's price. Learn about Robert Arneson, Jack Eugene Earl, Henry Takemoto and others.
Recognize the newest pottery when you see it at a flea market or garage sale. Available only from Kovels for $19.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996, online at Kovelsonlinestore.com; or mail to Kovels, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.