Paris porcelain often a mystery to collectors

Terry Kovel
The Paris porcelain vase pictured is 13 inches high and 7 inches in diameter, large enough to hold a bouquet of flowers or a potted plant. The decoration is very formal and realistic.

Paris porcelain is often a mystery to collectors. Sometimes it is sold as Vieux Paris or Old Paris. It was made in the 18th or early 19th century. Most pieces are not marked, but the porcelain is very white and the decorations are usually elaborate with many colors and gold trim. It was made by several different Paris potteries. 

A 19th-century cylindrical Paris porcelain vase decorated on the front with a painting of Cupid and Psyche sold for $244 at a Neal auction recently. There was standing putto on the back, and the vase had a blue base with gold shaped trim. Other pieces of Paris porcelain at the same auction were appraised at $600 or more.

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Q: I recently found a movie poster from "The Adventures of Robin Hood" while thrifting. It pictures Errol Flynn as Robin Hood and Olivia de Havilland looking on in the background. Printed on the bottom is "Continental Litho Corp. Cleveland O USA 8988." After looking it up, I found a few just like this sold at auctions for a lot of money. How can I tell if my poster is a valuable original or just a copy? 

A: Warner Bros. produced "The Adventures of Robin Hood" in 1938. Continental Litho Corp. made movie lobby posters for Warner Bros. and other companies. Reproductions of this poster have been made in several sizes. The size of the poster and copyright information help authenticate and date movie posters. The standard size, called a "one sheet," is 27 inches by 41 inches. If your poster is a different size, it's a reproduction. The value of an original movie poster is determined by the desirability of the title, the graphics and its condition. Some original movie posters sell for very high prices, but reproductions sell for only a few dollars. If you think you have an original, contact an auction that sells movie memorabilia. They can give you an estimate of value or, if it's valuable, sell it for you.

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Q: We found one of our old family cemeteries in Casey County, Kentucky, and we want to clean several head or foot stones. We want to be able to read the stones and identify our folks to help put our family tree together. Any suggestions on a safe product or procedure? 

A: Make sure the stones belong to members of your family before trying to clean them. The first rule in cleaning an old cemetery stone is "do no harm." Don't try to clean a stone if it's unstable, broken or cracked. Don't use a wire brush or bleach. Use a dry nylon brush to carefully brush away some of the dirt. If more is needed, you can use water to clean the stone, but you may have to bring it with you. A spray bottle filled with water is a convenient way to rinse the stone after you've cleaned it.

Don't try to clean the stone if the weather is too hot or too cold. Using cold water on a hot stone can cause cracks to form. If the weather is too cold, water can get into cracks in the stone and cause more damage. There are special products that will clean stains from mold or algae. Check the website www.CemeteryConservators for more information.

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Q: I'd like some information on a bowl marked "Carlton Ware" written in script over "Made in England, Trade Mark," and the numbers "2/50." The bowl is white with a scalloped rim trimmed with gold. Can you tell me something about the maker and when it was made? 

A: Pieces marked "Carlton Ware" were made by Wiltshaw & Robinson Ltd. in Staffordshire, England. The company was founded in 1890 by James F. Wiltshaw and brothers J.A. and W.H. Robinson. The company used a script mark from 1926 to 1987. The name of the company was changed to "Carlton Ware Ltd." in 1958. Carlton went into receivership in 1989, and the factory closed. "Made in" was used on marks after 1915.

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Q: I'd like to know the value of a gold-plated cast-metal mirror that has a wide border with embossed scrolls on a textured background. It's from about 1908. It measures 15 inches high and 12 inches wide and is marked "B&H" and "3125" on the back. There is a hinged rod on the back so the mirror can stand on a table.

A: This size mirror with attached stand is called a vanity mirror because it sat on a woman's vanity or dressing table. The "B&H" mark was used by Bradley & Hubbard, a company founded in 1854 in Meriden, Connecticut, by Walter Hubbard and his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Lyman Bradley.

The number is probably the model or catalog number. The company made cast-iron frames, andirons, clocks, lamps, chandeliers, sconces, sewing birds and tables. It became Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company in 1875. In 1940, it was sold to Charles Parker Company, and there is no mention of Bradley & Hubbard after the 1950s. Bradley & Hubbard vanity mirrors like your sell for about $100 to $300 depending on design and condition. 

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TIP: Hard plastic dolls will mildew if kept in a damp environment. 

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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer reader's 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. 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. 

Movie poster, "Caddyshack," paper, pictures Chevy Chase, Michael O'Keefe, Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight, autographed by Chase, O'Keefe, Dangerfield and Bill Murray, 1980, 16 x 11 inches, $70.

Furniture, shaving mirror, mahogany, arched, rope twist supports, serpentine marble base, rounded feet, Victorian, 31 1/2 x 28 1/2 inches, $125.

Bank, bank building, Flat Iron Bank, cast iron, triangular form & base, Kenton Hardware, c.1920, 5 3/4 inches, $270.

Photograph, cabinet card, strong man, lifting four men on barrel, Sword Bro's., Professional Photographers, York, Pa., c.1890, 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches, $385.

Lalique, decanter, scarab, clear, frosted scarab panels, pinched neck, flared rim, ribbed stopper, etched Lalique France, 9 x 5 inches, $410.

Iron, gate, wrought iron, hammered, arched, leaf top, stylized floral openwork, 70 x 58 inches, $630.

Weather vane, dog's profile, setter, pointing, copper, patina, hollow body, low relief, late 19th-early 20th century, 33 inches, $1,040.

Art glass vase, King Tut pattern, cobalt blue iridescent, silver iridescent pulled vines, squat form, trifold rim, marked V for Victor Durand, 5 1/4 x 7 inches, $1,875.

Advertising sign, Shell Gasoline, porcelain, die-cut shell shape, black letters, orange ground, stamped, Property of Shell Petroleum Corp., 1930, 25 x 24 inches, $2,770.

Pottery, contemporary, plate, stoneware, round, engobe wash, pass-through, Peter Voulkos, 1974, 5 x 20 inches, $4,800.