COLUMNISTS

Royal Worcester remains one of the oldest producers of tableware and decor

Terry Kovel
Royal Worcester is one of the oldest and most famous makers of porcelain. It made this ram's head pitcher in 1888.

Since 1751, Royal Worcester has been known worldwide for its collections of porcelain goods. It remains one of the oldest producers of tableware and decorative items in England. 

In the late 19th century, Royal Worcester designed unique pitchers and ewers with handles that were parts of animals or tree branches. Stag horns, dragons, winged creatures, bamboo branches and artwork popularized their style. 

Painted Japonisme-style chrysanthemums and poppies with gold trim float on the ivory background of the body of this pitcher. The handle is shaped like a ram's head. It sold for $118 at William Bunch Auctions of Pennsylvania. It was marked with the date 1888. The ivory background color became very popular in the late 19th century but was discontinued in 1914.

Question: I have an antique Oriental rug in my living room. Does it need any special care or treatment? 

Answer: If your rug is in a room that gets a lot of use, you should vacuum it once a week and have it cleaned once a year. The best way to clean it depends on what it is made of. If it is silk, it should be professionally cleaned. If it is wool and the dyes don't run, you can wash it yourself with mild soap and water.

Your Oriental rug should last more than 50 years. Keep it flat on the floor with a pad of the same size underneath. Be careful if your furniture has metal legs and feet; they can leave rust stains and tears.

Q: I'm trying to find the value of a violin that has been in our family for more than 100 years. My great-grandfather brought it over from Italy. The inside of the violin is marked "Giovan Paolo Maggini, (brescia) 1636." It has a beautiful sound. A new bridge was put in several years ago. The bow is still in pretty good condition, but the case is badly worn. How can I find the value of this violin? 

A: Giovanni Paolo Maggini was an important instrument maker who was born in Brescia, Italy, in 1580 and lived until about 1630. He made about 60 violins as well as a few other stringed instruments during his lifetime. They are known for the quality of wood, large sound holes and mellow tones.

Many of the instruments have decorations on the back. Maggini died before 1636, the date on your violin. His work has been copied and many violins "in the style of" Maggini have been made since then. They are often labeled with earlier dates than the actual manufacture to give the impression they were made by Maggini. The condition and the quality of the sound of your violin will determine its price. It would have to be seen and played by a knowledgeable musician or appraiser. 

Q: I have a copy of my hometown newspaper, The Plain Dealer, in Cleveland, Ohio, from Nov. 23, 1963. The paper reported the story of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Are old newspapers like that sought after by collectors? 

A: The value of an old newspaper is based on the historical importance of the news on the front page and the newspaper's rarity. If the main story on the front page is continued to back pages, you need to have those pages, too. Value is determined by scarcity and demand.

The Plain Dealer was the largest newspaper in Ohio at the time, with more than 500,000 papers printed daily. Many people would have saved that edition, limiting its value. To preserve your newspaper in the best condition, store it flat with the pages unfolded. The paper can be wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and laid flat in a box with a lid. The box should be stored in a dry, cool place, not in a hot attic or damp basement. It also could be framed with acid-free paper. 

Q: Our dining room table has been in the family for generations. It's sturdy but is very well-used and looks it. If we decide to sell it, is it a good idea to refinish it? Or does that lower the value? 

A: Generally, refinishing a piece of furniture will not lower the value unless it is a museum-quality antique from the 18th or 19th centuries or associated with a famous owner, maker or designer. But if your table is meant to be used, rather than displayed as a work of art, refinishing an old, scratched surface will make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Do you know your table's age or maker? Check it for labels or maker's marks. To guess its age based on family history, take your age and add 25 years for each generation after its original owner. (This will not give you an exact age, but can help you approximate it.) If you are still in doubt about whether or not to refinish your table, consult a professional refinisher or appraiser. You can find some listed on Kovels.com in the business directory. 

TIP: Outdoor bronze garden figures should be waxed twice a year for protection.

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. 

Doll, Western Barbie, blond hair, eye winks, silver Western-style jumpsuit with trim, fringe on cuffs, boots, hat, comb, brush, box, 1980, 12 inches, $65. 

Pottery tobacco jar, man's head, ruddy and wrinkly cheeks, stand-up collar with cravat, Asian-style hat with tassel lifts off for cover, c. 1880, 7 x 5 inches, $125. 

Garden bench, metal, slatted seat, chain link top rail, cutout nautical ship's wheel and anchor on back, shaped arms, 37 x 42 x 20 inches, $245. 

Toy race car, lithographed tin, blue and yellow, "21" on door, open top with driver, exposed engine, moving pistons, motor sound, rubber wheels, TN, Japan, 8 inches, $360. 

Glass vase, green and opalescent green, tall with fluted sides, flared out scalloped rim, clear knop and disc foot, marked Libbey, c. 1930, 8 ¼ inches, $465. 

Jewelry, pin, flower, five round moonstone petals, sapphire center, stem with five leaves, 14K gold, marked Tiffany & Co., 2 inches, $790. 

Furniture, highboy, Queen Anne, cherry wood, flat top, two sections, top with two short over four graduated long drawers, bottom with four short drawers, cabriole legs, American, 18th century, 75 x 38 x 19 inches, $940. 

Doll, Miss Hadley, cloth, oval head, painted features and hair, jointed cotton body, pale blue cotton dress with white floral edging, sash, black stockings, c. 1900, 22 inches, $1,350. 

Pair of lamps, walnut base, four tapered sides, cylindrical paneled banana fiber parchment shade, pointed finial, Robert Whitley, c. 1975, 42 x 18 ½ inches, pair, $1,625. 

Rug, wool, sculpted flat weave, hand knotted, stripes, solid and patterned, contemporary, 104 x 136 inches, $3,000.