Japanese Satsuma pottery prized by collectors

Terry Kovel
This Satsuma vase with intricate reticulation and decoration brought over $14,000 at a Cottone auction.

Satsuma pottery is from Japan. It was made in the 1860s and was sometimes purchased by American visitors to Japan and brought home.

During World War I, American housewives who enjoyed hand-painting china could not get any from Germany, so they imported undecorated white Satsuma and made what is now called "American Satsuma" with stylized art deco decorations. But by the 1950s, the antique Satsuma was rediscovered by collectors and the pottery from Asia was prized.

Old Satsuma has a creamy, slightly yellow background decorated in red, green, blue and orange, and highlighted with gold paint. A rare type of old Satsuma made in the Meiji period (1868-1912) is called Reticulated Satsuma because it has not only painted decorations but also designs made of tiny, shaped holes. A vase of this type needs a liner to hold water if it is used for flowers.

Reticulated china is very complicated and difficult to make. Large pieces often collapse in the kiln. Cottone Auctions had a spring sale that featured a 19-inch vase with 11-inch diameter that was totally covered with a painting of iris leaves and flowers and a partial design of a woman in a garden painted over a black 

background. The vase came with the original insert and was signed by the artist. The successful auction bid of $14,160 was over the high estimate of $10,000. Look for the Shimazu crest mark on old Satsuma. It is a circle with a cross inside.

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Q: This creamer was in my house when I bought it. On the bottom, it is imprinted "Deila Ware, Made in the USA, 3722 1 PT." It also 

says "El Rosa" and has an artist's paint palette on it. What is its value? 

A: Your creamer is Della-Ware (it looks as if part of the first "l" was worn off on your creamer). It was made in America sometime in 

the 1930s or 1940s and has painted roses and a terra cotta interior. The pattern is called "El Rosa." It is 4 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter, and is 6 

inches from handle to spout. A set with an identical creamer but with a matching sugar bowl sold recently for $18. Stangl Pottery began making Del-

la-Ware in 1942. 

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Q: I inherited six place settings and several serving pieces of Vodrey China. The pieces are marked with a bird sitting in a crown and the 

word "Vodrey" above the mark and "China" below it. The china was bought by a man, who died in 1914, and was passed down through the family. 

Can you tell me something about the maker? 

A: Vodrey pottery was made in East Liverpool, Ohio, from about 1857 to 1928. Vodrey Brothers, Palissy Works, was founded by 

brothers William, James and John Vodrey in the remains of a church that had burned and been abandoned. Rockingham and yellowware were made. 

John Vodrey was killed in 1864 while fighting for the Union Army during the Civil War. The name of the pottery was changed to Vodrey Pottery Co. 

in 1896, and the pottery began making semi-porcelain dinnerware for domestic and commercial use. 

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Q: I have two original photos of the Masterson brothers in old frames, along with a newspaper clipping of how they died. Are they 

worth anything? How would I go about selling them? 

A: The Masterson brothers, Ed, "Bat" and Jim, started out as buffalo hunters in the West in the 1870s and later served as lawmen. They're famous for their gunfights. Ed was deputy marshal and, later, marshal of Dodge City, Kan. He was killed in the line of duty in 1878. Bat, the most famous of the brothers, was an Army scout and lawman who served as sheriff of Ford County and later became a sportswriter. He died in 1921. 

He has been portrayed in several TV series, including "Bat Masterson," which ran from 1958 to 1961. Jim was co-owner of a dance hall and saloon in Dodge City and served as deputy marshal and, later, marshal. He died of tuberculosis in 1895. There are many photos of the brothers, and some have been reproduced several times. Your photos would need to be seen by an expert to find out if they are original. If the newspaper clipping is from the 1800s, it would add provenance. If they are original, they would sell well at auctions of old photos or Western memorabilia. There are many copies offered for sale. 

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Q: What is the difference between a bookcase and a bookshelf? Dictionaries disagree. 

A: For most people, a bookshelf is an open shelf attached to a wall to hold books. A bookcase is a piece of furniture with drawers in the 

lower half and a top cabinet with glass doors protecting shelves for books. But in some places the words are interchangeable, or it is called a bookstand or a bookrack. Modern decorators often use piles of books to hold potted plants, in open space under a table, or sort them by color to make a background wall. The shelves can share space with decorative vases or figurines. But a traditional bookcase with or without glass doors is the proper place to store books. Bookcases have been made in many styles: Chippendale, Sheraton, Federal, art nouveau, Arts and Crafts and modern. Every period had furniture with shelves for books, which often were kept behind glass doors that protected them. 

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TIP: Dust your antiques regularly but carefully. Dust leads to mold growth and attracts insects.

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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers' questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures: the object, and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or 

email us at

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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. 

Match holder, Nakara, light-blue flowers, pink shaded ground, octagonal base, round gilt rim, 2 x 2 1/4 inches, $70.

Lamp, electric, black enameled metal pole and cap, telescoping, white plastic diffuser shade, G. Thurston for Lightolier, 51 inches, 


Cut-glass cheese dish and cover, Oxford pattern by J. Hoare, flared dish with notched rim, dome cover, faceted ball finial, American 

Brilliant Period, 8 x 9 inches, $230.

Mechanical bank, Trick Dog, clown holds hoop, dog jumps through and deposits coin, cast iron, Shepard Hardware, 3 x 8 3/4 inches, 


Advertising clock, 7UP Likes You, metal body, glass face, logo, bubbles, orange ground, green border, marked, Pam Clock Co., Brook-

lyn, 15 inches diameter, $675.

Toy, Tom Corbett Sparkling Spaceship, tin, lithograph, space graphics, windup, Marx, box, 1950s, 4 1/2 x 12 inches, $985.

Doll, Madame Alexander, Elaine, hard plastic, Tosca wig, walking body, white organdy gown, hat, pearl necklace,  c.1954, 18 inches, $1,095.

Furniture, slipper chair, Edward Wormley, lacquered mahogany, tufted upholstery, label, made by Dunbar,  c.1965, 32 x 23 x 32 inches, pair, $1,250.

Print, Japanese, Sunset at Ichinokura, from Twenty Views of Tokyo series, by Hasui Kawase, stand of trees at sunset, artist's seal, 1928, 

10 3/8 x 15 inches, $2,215.

Auto sign, Authorized Studebaker Service, round, porcelain, brown and yellow, white letters, marked, Walker & Co., 42 inches diameter, $5,700.