COLUMNISTS

Appeal of Lucite products is crystal clear

Terry Kovel
The appeal of this Lucite trunk is crystal clear. It sold for $531 at New Orleans Auction Galleries.

It's essential for designers to stay on the cutting edge of fashion, which often means finding innovative uses for new materials. Lucite, a clear acrylic resin made by DuPont, was available for commercial use by 1937. By the 1960s, it was used in furniture.

Designers often added accents made of smooth, reflective materials like chrome or brass or upholstered their pieces with bright, colorful fabric. 

Another way to decorate Lucite pieces involved enclosing decorations, such as flowers, in the resin. The clear, shiny material made designs – and the rooms they furnished – look lighter.

Some Lucite pieces were made in unusual shapes and styles. Others were more conventional, like this mid-century steamer trunk, which sold at New Orleans Auction Galleries for $531. This may have an advantage over typical wooden or leather trunks: The clear material means you don't have to open it to see what's inside! 

Question: We had a complete service for four of Franciscan's Oasis pattern dishes when we got married years ago. It has blue and gray shaded lines and stars. The only pieces left are a gravy boat with attached underplate and a 13-inch oval platter. We're downsizing and want to sell them in a garage sale. What are they worth? 

Answer: Franciscan made its Oasis pattern from 1954 to 1962. The gravy boat lists in online shops for $40 to $75 and the 13-inch platter for $70 or more. Prices listed online are not always what the items sell for, and you probably won't be able to get as much as an online seller.

Online sellers have the advantage of a larger inventory, thousands of potential customers and many repeat customers. Buyers at garage sales are looking for bargains, so set your price but be ready to lower it if you see there is interest in buying the gravy boat or platter for less. 

Q: I was given a set of silver-plate flatware from my aunt's estate. Is it worth anything beyond the sentimental value? 

A: Silver-plate flatware sets are not selling for high prices and are not popular right now. Because they are plated, they cannot be sold for meltdown value – the silver and other metals mix.

Before doing anything with your set, research the name and history of the maker of the set. Remember your inherited set is certainly nice for holiday table settings and don't forget the sentimental value. A full set of 12 silver-plate place settings sells for about $100 to $200 at auction, but famous brands like Tiffany or Gorham and modern designs can get higher prices. 

Q: What is the difference between cut glass and pressed glass? Which is more valuable?

A: Cut glass is an ancient technique that was revived in Europe in the 1500s. Cut and engraved designs added luster to the glass and helped hide flaws like bubbles. Mold-blown glass used easier and cheaper techniques to imitate cut glass. The mechanical glass press was invented in the 1820s, making production even simpler and less expensive. American manufacturers made pressed glass patterns in a variety of colors.

To tell the difference between cut glass and pressed glass, remember the three Ls: look, lift and listen. Cut glass designs have sharp edges, so they sparkle more than pressed glass, which has rounded edges. When you pick up a cut glass item, it will feel heavier than a similar piece of pressed glass. Tap your finger against a piece of cut glass and it will ring with more clarity than pressed glass.

Cut glass is usually more expensive than pressed glass, but current prices vary from under $20 to thousands of dollars. Cut glass with a signature or famous manufacturer like Baccarat or Waterford tends to sell for higher prices. Embellishments such as silver mounts or colored glass can further increase the price.

Q: I have an old aluminum ice cream scoop with the name "Franklin Ice Cream" on the handle. My grandparents would take me and my sisters to that store for a treat in the 1960s. Are vintage ice cream scoops collectible? 

A: The Franklin Ice Cream Co. started in business in an abandoned blacksmith shop in Toledo, Ohio, in 1922, as the Franklin Creamery Co. It was a success. In the 1950s, the company sold 900,000 gallons of ice cream a year and had 22 stores in Toledo, Maumee, Cleveland and Monroe.

The Franklin Creamery Co. plant closed in 1964 when Franklin was sold to Cincinnati's United Dairy Farmers (a chain that dominates the convenience store business there even today). The plant was torn down in 1969.

Your scoop's value lies in its memories and rarity. Rare scoops can sell for a few hundred to even thousands of dollars. Common shapes will sell for $25 or less.

TIP: Liquid window cleaner is an excellent jewelry cleaner.

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. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallery@kovels.com.

CURRENT PRICES

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. 

Opera glasses, mother of pearl, gold tone, focusing wheel, marked on eyepiece, black carrying case, Swift & Holliday, Topeka, 3 x 5 inches, $25.

Doll set, Effanbee, Suzette, George and Martha Washington, white wigs, painted faces, blue side-glancing eyes, 11 inches, pair, $55.

Porcelain bowl, square, fruit and flower cluster in center, individual fruits around rim and exterior, handpainted, gilt, fluted rim, marked, Herend, Hungary, 3 ¾ x 10 ¼ inches, $75.

Poster, Imagination Celebration, two figures in hot air balloon, monster and horned dog seated on ground, starry sky, multicolor, Maurice Sendak, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, frame, 13 ¼ x 10 inches, $125.

Doll, Madame Alexander, Cissette, bride, curly blond wig, sleep eyes, white tulle dress and veil, bouquet, wrist tag, 9 inches, $200.

Tole tray, tin, painted, red, classical scene, mother and child eating grapes outdoors, gilt, fruit and flowers around border, pierced handles, late 19th century, 22 ½ x 30 ½ inches, $420.

Rug, Shirvan, three octagonal medallions, in navy blue rectangles, stylized birds, geometrics, leaf and wine glass border, ivory, red, navy blue, light green, early 20th century, 5 feet  11 inches x 3 feet 5 inches, $770.

Paperweight, magnifying glass, Eye of Cleopatra, stylized eye shape, brass frame, ruthenium finish, stamped, Hermes, Italy, 20th century, 2 ¾ x 4 inches, $815.

Furniture, stand, magazine, Stickley Brothers, oak, No. 6617, four shelves, notched crest, circular cutouts, two vertical slats on back, paper label, 49 ½ x 14 x 12 inches, $2,340.

Satsuma porcelain figurine, Kwannon, standing, holding lotus blossom, multicolor robes, red mark, signature, early 20th century, 15 inches, $2,560.