Glassmakers adapt shell shape to medium

Terry Kovel
This unusual watch holder, 11 inches high, sold for over $700. It had minor wear and unusual color.

Shell-shaped decorative objects were very popular during the 19th century. There were trinket boxes covered in tiny shells, counter bells made with several mother-of-pearl shells put together into a container, or nautilus shells used as part of cleverly shaped lamps that held a special light bulb. Some large conch shells were kept whole as decorations, often with the addition of a cameo carved into part of the shell.

Glassmakers adapted the shell shape to their medium, and during the late 1800s, many "shells" were made of colored glass that was decorated with enamel paint or held in elaborate metal frames.

A shell-shaped cranberry glass watch holder with enameled decorations was auctioned recently. The almost egg-shaped glass was held in a gilt metal frame with leaves, flowers and a bird finial.

The unusual piece, probably American, sold for $708 at a Conestoga auction in Pennsylvania. It was lined with padded fabric to protect the watch. A pocket watch kept in a holder on a table near the bed served as a bedroom clock.
Q: My husband's grandmother left us a two-door chest that has intricate painting and detail. The label on the back reads "Elgin A Simonds Company, Syracuse, N.Y." Can you tell me more about this and what it might be worth? 
A: Elgin A. Simonds was a business partner of Gustav Stickley in the late 1890s in Syracuse. In 1898, Stickley bought out Simonds. Then Simonds bought the Hayden & Couch Chair Manufacturing Co. of Rochester, N.Y., and it became the Brown & Simonds Co. That company was renamed the Elgin A. Simonds Co. in 1901. The Simonds Co. made faithful reproductions of traditional furniture. Your chest probably was made in the early 1920s as a reproduction of a William and Mary chest. It looks like walnut, and the two painted panels with classical figures adds to its value. It's worth about $750.
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Q: I own an 1893 first-edition crepe paper book, "The Story of Coodles - the only Coodles." How rare is this, and what is the value?
A: Crepe-paper books (chirimen-bon in Japanese) were first published by Takejiro Hasegawa, a Japanese publisher, in 1886. A series of children's books were made for the Western market. They were written in English and other languages, and were illustrated with Japanese woodblock prints. After the pages were printed, the paper was dampened, separated with grooved cardboard molds and pressed using a special lever press. The process was repeated several times before binding the pages. Usually the pages were printed on one side, folded in half with the printed side showing, and bound together with the folded side out. First-edition books usually are worth more than later editions. You should take the book to a rare book dealer to see what it is worth.
Q: My mother gave me a small box, 6 1/2 by 3 3/4 by 1 1/4 inches, with five small dolls inside. Each doll is 3 1/2 inches tall. It says on the top of the box "Best Maid Quintuplets," "No. 63077" and "Made in Japan." Is this of any value?
A: The Dionne quintuplets, Yvonne, Annette, Cecile, Emilie and Marie, were born in Canada on May 28, 1934. They were the first quintuplets to survive infancy. When they were four months old, they became wards of the Canadian government and were put under the guardianship of Dr. Dafoe, the doctor who delivered them. The girls lived in the Dafoe nursery, where they became a major tourist attraction. They returned to live with their family in 1943. Thousands of special dolls and souvenirs were made picturing the quints at different ages. Annette and Cecile are still alive. The value of your dolls is about $20. 
Q: I'm helping an elderly gentleman sell some of his New Hall Pottery collection. He has collected over 200 pieces, including many tea sets and matching pieces. I have had no luck finding anyone interested in these pieces. Is there any market for New Hall?
A: New Hall Porcelain Works was in business in Newhall, Shelton, Staffordshire, England, from 1781 to 1835. Simple decorated wares were made. Large collections are hard to sell. You can try an antiques shop that sells 18th-century pottery or an auction house that sometimes sells early 19th-century porcelains.
Tip: Some vintage buyers are getting a chrome blender to display like a work of art in the kitchen. And sometimes it is even used to mix drinks.
Take advantage of a free listing for your group to announce events or to find antique shows, national meetings and other events. Go to the Calendar at to find, publicize and plan your antiquing trips.
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.
Calendar, 1941, Bensing Bros. and Denney, pin-up girl, bathing beauty, brunette in black swimsuit, cardboard litho, Earl Moran, 10 x 5 inches, $15.
Serving dish, dachshund dog shape, 2 hot dog trays with "mustard and relish" condiment sections, 1950s, 7 x 10 inches, set of 3, $60.
Paper Doll, Cecelia, "My Kissin Cousin," stand-up easel, five dresses and coat, cardboard, James & Jonathan, factory sealed, 1960, 30 inches, $125.
Restaurant sign, "Chicken in a Bucket ... with Spaghetti or French Fries," black and tan, hand-painted metal, 1950s, 30 x 22 inches, $285.
Eye exam chart, wooden plaque, two-sided, black metal frame, E.B. Meyrowitz Surgical Instruments Co., 1935, 8 x 6 inches, $375.
Wedding parasol, ivory silk with embroidered leaves and vines, fringe, bone handle and ball finial, Spain, Victorian, c. 1880, 25 x 20 inches, $560.
Pocket watch, metal open case with enamel dial, moon phase calendar, engraved masonic symbols, sun and moon, Swiss, 1800s, 2 3/4 inches, $725.
Phonograph, metal and brass horn, 3 wax cylinders, wood base with hand crank, cover and reproducer, Thomas Edison, c. 1905, $1,100.
Patio chair, flying saucer-shaped, rattan sphere on iron frame, flared legs, vinyl seat cushions, Ritts Tropitan, c. 1945, 30 x 28 inches, pair, $1,350.
Sterling creamer, figural cow, hinged lid with engraved bee, long horns, tail forms loop handle, Belgium, c. 1905, 5 1/2 inches, $3,900.
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
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