A portrait plate made by two different companies? How’s that possible?

At a recent sale, I ran across a great portrait plate from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.  It has a great motif on the front—a gorgeous lady with a gold trim near the edge that has harps and a floral motif.

Royal Vienna ZEH SCHERZER ZS And Co Porcelain Portrait Plate Artist Signed Gracioga

But when I picked it up and looked at the back, it had two different company marks on it.  The first reads ROYAL VIENNA and the other is Z. S. & Co Bavaria.

Royal Vienna ZEH SCHERZER ZS And Co Porcelain Portrait Plate Artist Signed Gracioga plate

This is pretty interesting—the two marks actually have a purpose.  The ROYAL VIENNA mark is for the hand painted decorations on the front of the plate.  The second mark stands for ZEH SCHERZER & Co., and they produced the ceramic plate.

The ceramic plate was produced and then sold to ROYAL VIENNA undecorated.  When ROYAL VIENNA received the plate, they then painted it with this terrific motif.

Sometimes the artist even signs the piece.  It could be anywhere really—I have seen the signature on both the front and the back of the piece.  This plate was signed on the back, and it was signed Gracioga.

You can see this terrific portrait plate in my Etsy shop here.  Have you ever run across anything like this?

The boys of summer…in 1956?

The 1956 TOPPS baseball cards have been a favorite of mine for many years now.  There are quite a few of them in my collection—Jackie Robinson and Al Rosen are just two of them.

1956 topps

When TOPPS came on the sports cards scene in the early 1950’s, they competed with another company named BOWMAN.

When 1956 rolled around, TOPPS bought out BOWMAN.  The wonderful thing that happened for the collectors was that all of the players were featured in just one set.  In the years before 1956, you could only find certain players on BOWMAN cards, while other players were just on TOPPS cards.

Collectors today also look for varieties in the set.  Two of the more famous verities deal the back of the cards with one being called “white back” (this is a white or cream color) and the other is called the “gray back” (this has more of a gray color).

A word of advice though—these cards are a little larger than today’s cards.  Be careful if you want to put these in pages for a three-ring binder (the cards won’t fit).  You may have to buy some pages for these to fit in.

You can also see some of these cards in my Etsy shop here.  Have you ever run into these cards?

At what price do you walk away from a piece?

One of the first questions you ask yourself when you are out shopping for antiques is at what price do you walk away from a piece?  It’s a very simple question that every collector and dealer ask themselves, sometimes even on a daily basis.

It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a piece of pottery, a coin or even an advertising piece.  This question will be asked on pretty much everything that you look at.

A good rule of thumb that I use is I ask myself how much I can actually sell the item for.  I then try to pay half for the item (if I can sell it for $20, I try to buy it for $10).

The reason that I only pay half for the item is that this gives me a good cushion to cover any expenses that I happen to run across.

Some of these expenses that you also have to factor in is the cost of shipping materials like the box, packing peanuts bubble wrap and even tape.  Even the cost of the shipping label also must be considered.

There are also fees that you pay to the selling site whenever you sell an item (you usually will have to deal with these at the start of the month).

When I am looking at a piece, I also look to see if I need to make any repairs or even do something like rewire it or replace parts.  This will definitely drive up the price of the item and eat into (and potentially eat up) any profits that could be made.

What do you consider when you look at the price of an item?

Furniture terms that could make you think they mean something else

Like pretty much every area in the vintage and collectible world, furniture has its own vocabulary.  There are even words and phrases out there that would make you think they mean something completely different.  Here’s a few of them:

Dovetail—this is a term in wood working that’s used to designate a method of joinery. This is used a lot to join corners of drawers and cabinets.  It’s a series of cuts to make a tenon or tongue that looks the shape of a dove’s tail that interlocks with alternating similar cuts piece of wood.

Vitrine—this is a French term for display or china cabinet.  This type of cabinet has large sections made out of glass so that you can show off the items stored inside.

Escutcheon—this is an ornament plate that surrounds a keyhole on a piece of furniture or a door.  These plates come in a wide variety of motifs.

This is only a tiny amount of what is out there.  What have you heard?

Antique furniture parts and pieces

There are many different parts and pieces of furniture, and it can get confusing (especially when you first start to buy and sell it).  Here are some parts and pieces of what I have run across over the years:

Cabriole—This is a double-curved form used in legs (and even feet). The upper portion of the leg curves outward while the lower part curves inward.  This makes an S shape on the legs and is very distinctive.

Bombé—This is a French term for the outwardly curving shape of a piece of furniture.  The most thought of form is that of a chest.

Armoire—This is a clothes cupboard, and this can be a pretty sizable piece of furniture.  In most cases, an Armoire is a type of wardrobe.

Marquetry—This is a decorative technique in which different woods are inlaid into the body of a piece to create an image.  Flowers are a common motif; other images are used though.  Most of the time the inlay work is done with various woods—other materials like mother-of-pearl, ivory, and even tortoiseshell, have been used.

What types of parts and pieces terms have you run across?

Sulfide marbles—what exactly are they?

Cats Eye, Steelies, and Latticino Core are all different types of marbles that you’ll run across.  One of my favorite type of marble is what’s called a Sulfide.

Sulfide marbles were made from the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s.  More often than not, they are the size of a shooter.  This type of marble is made of glass with a chalk inside–and that piece comes in a wide variety of shapes from an animals, buildings, people, flowers and even numbers.

Sulphide Shooter Marble With Lamb

The most common type of glass that you’ll see is clear, but different colors like green and blue have been found.

There are some things that you need to remember when you are either starting to collect these.  Since this was a shooter (and sulfides were actually played with), there is a very good chance that there will be some surface chips or cracks in the marble.

Another thing to remember is that the chalk piece was inserted into molten glass when these were made.  The chalk piece stands a good chance of breaking in half when the marble is made.

Beware though—there are modern varieties of sulfides out on the market.  It’s easy to tell the old from the new marbles when you are looking at them.  The quality of the glass and chalk figure are of a better quality on the new marbles.  Pay attention to the chalk piece itself—it’s almost always painted on the new ones too.

What kinds of Sulfide marbles have you run across?

Great Fenton items for any collector!

The Fenton Art Glass Company opened its doors in a rented space in Martins Ferry, Ohio in 1905.  Since then, the company produced quite a variety of items and colors–you could find a piece for just about any part of your house.

It could be a lamp with a cranberry Fenton Shade for the living room, a vase for your favorite type of flowers, or even something for the kitchen table.  One of the items that you an get for the table is this great pair of candle holders.

This pair of amber colored candle holders sports the hobnail pattern, and they date to the 1960’s.  The great thing about them is that they are low enough so you can look over them and see the person on the other side of the table.  You can see them in my Etsy shop here.

Another thing that Fenton did was that they made glass items for other companies, and that’s what they did with this perfume bottle.

The perfume bottle was made for Devilbiss, and it has the Blue Opalescent Coin Dot pattern on it.  The bottle dates to the 1950’s, and it has a replaced replaced atomizer (the bottle is just a decorator piece now).  You can see it in my Etsy shop here.

Fenton also made a wide variety of bells, like this example.

This pink opalescent variety dates to the 1950’s, which can be dated by the paper label on it.  You can see this wonderful example in my Etsy shop here.

As a matter of fact, you can see all of the Fenton pieces in my Etsy shop here.

You never know what shape, pattern or color you could run into while out shopping.  What have you seen?

Here’s some fun facts about PEZ dispensers

One of the things that I remember having around during my childhood is a PEZ dispenser.  The Hulk, Garfield and even Spiderman were some of the dispensers that I had, and nothing could beat that cherry flavored candy.

PEZ candy was first produced in Vienna, Austria in 1927.  The candy was first advertised as a compressed peppermint sweet, and PEZ is actually an abbreviation for PfeffErminZ (that’s German for peppermint).  These candies came in a tin that looks like what Altoids come in today.

When the dispensers came about, they were not always called that.  They were called “regulars”, and they looked a lot like a cigarette lighter.  They dispensed an adult breath mint that were marketed as an alternative to smoking.

When 1955 rolled around, the dispensers started to have character heads on them, and this happened after PEZ was introduced in the United States.  One example of these character heads is this POLICEMAN dispenser.

pez

As you can see, the dispenser should have a police hat on it, but has been lost over time.  Over the years, PEZ has made dispensers with and without feet.

pez-no-feet

As you can tell from the picture above this great example has no feet, and you can see this dispenser in my Etsy store here.

What kind of PEZ dispensers have you had?

What reference books do you constantly read?

When you dive into the world of buying and selling, you will find yourself searching for reference books to help identify what you have and help put a price on it.  There are plenty out there, and there’s a book that covers just about every aspect of anything vintage.

When I first started to buy and sell antiques, “Schroder’s Antiques Price Guide” and “Kovel’s Antiques And Collectibles Price List” always seemed to be brought along when I headed out to an auction.  Another book that I never leave with is “A Guide Book of United States Coins” (also known as “The Red Book”) whenever I head out to coin shows.

What reference books do you find yourself constantly reading?

Is it “The Collector’s Encyclopedia Of Fiesta” by Bob And Sharon Huxford or “McCoy Pottery” by Bob And Sharon Huxford?  Do you read “Collectible Glassware from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s” by Gene Florence if you love glass?

What are some of your favorite titles?

The crazy world of coin collecting and its vocabulary

When I started collecting coins when I was younger, I found out that the crazy thing about it was the vocabulary.  It’s the craziest thing that I have ever heard—there’s about Good and about uncirculated (which are both terms that you use to grade a coin).  There’s even a matte proof, an inverted date, and even a hub.

Here’s some more words that will make your head spin:

Bag mark—these are marks on a coin that occur when coins bump into each other.  This could happen when they are placed in bags at the mint or being moved in the bag. Larger size coins typically exhibit more bag marks than smaller ones due to their size.

Rim—this is the raised edge of a coin that’s created by a machine called the upsetting mill. The idea of a rim is that if the edge on both sides of the coin is raised as high as the design it will help protect the coins design from wear.  This way the coin can be in circulation a little longer without being replaced.

Walker—this is a nick name for the United States Walking Liberty Half dollar.  The design was made between 1916 and 1947, and this is thought by some to be one of the US most beautiful coin designs. The current American Silver Eagles that United States makes have the same design on their obverse.

These are just a few of the terms that I’ve heard over the years.  What have you heard?