Paul Evans (1931-1987) is one of the famous midcentury designers in America. He made unique furniture that fit into the buildings and houses being introduced after World War II. His studio was in New Hope, Pa., and in the 1960s he was making furniture from steel and other metals. He had to learn to weld, torch-cut and create a patina to make his boxy chests and tables. Unexpected woods and metals were used in the furniture he made at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He was successful as a sculptor and as a designer and maker for the company Directional Furniture. After his death, his work was forgotten for a few years, but soon it was realized that Evans’ designs were important, and prices have been going up. His Cityscape pieces seem to be the most popular, but Argenta chairs and tables are wanted for dining rooms in modern houses with large windows and plain walls. Each piece is handmade, all are heavy, difficult to move, unusual and sure to be noticed. A pair of armchairs made in the 1960s of steel paired with flowered upholstery sold at a Rago Modern Design auction in the fall. The chairs estimated at $9,000 to $14,000 sold for $20,000 — well over the estimate. Each chair is 26 x 25½ x 20 inches.
Q: I’m trying to find the maker of a silver or silver-plated pitcher I have. It’s about 5½ inches high and has several marks imprinted on the bottom. The top row has “W & W,” then underneath that are three symbols: a lion, cat or jaguar head and a lowercase italic letter “f.” There are numbers hand-etched or scratched underneath the row of symbols. Can you tell me who made this pitcher and about how old it is?
Answer: This mark was used by Wakely & Wheeler, London silversmiths. James Wakely and Frank Wheeler worked together by 1884. The “W & W” mark was registered in 1909, the year the company name became Wakely & Wheeler. The lion is the English silver standard mark, which indicates the pitcher is sterling silver. The “cat” mark is a leopard’s head, the town mark for London. The lower case “f” is the London date letter mark for 1961. To learn more about English silver marks, visit Kovels.com.
Q: How can I find the value of four Royal Doulton figural creamers? Each one has the head and shoulders of a historical figure.
Answer: You have character jugs, not creamers. Royal Doulton started making character jugs in 1934. Smaller versions were introduced in 1935. Each jug was a portrait of a famous person’s head. Some of the characters are historical figures or characters from literature while some represent famous people or occupations. The title of the figure may be on the outside of the jug or included in the marks on the bottom. First, determine which of the sizes you have. Kovels’ “Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide” explains the sizes. Then, check current prices online, but be sure to look for sold prices or completed auctions. A large character jug sells for $8 to $90. A few sell for high prices, but most are hard to sell. Asking prices are often higher than the final prices.
Q: I have a whale’s tooth scrimshaw made by Frank Barcelos in very good condition. I want to sell it but don’t know if I should use eBay or an auction. Would you be able to help?
Answer: Scrimshaw — carvings or etchings on whale’s teeth, bone or ivory — was first carved by North American whalers and others about 1800. A scrimshander is someone who makes scrimshaw. Frank Barcelos was born Francisco Jose de Barcelos. He came to the United States from the Azores in 1969. Some of his scrimshaw sells for high prices. There are federal laws governing the sale of whale ivory, and it can’t be shipped between states. You should contact an auction house to see if they can sell it.
Q: We went to Hawaii in 1974 and bought three wood pictures of flowers on a black velvet background. They’re in round Plexiglass-domed frames. The paper on the back of the frames say they are real flowers and leaves handpicked and “Handcrafted in Maui, Hawaii, by Saburo Inc.” It also gives the names of the flowers. We’re interested in selling these and would like to know what they are worth. My husband thinks we paid $125 for them. Can you tell us the best way to go about selling them?
Answer: Saburo Inc. was founded by Saburo Matsushita. The company developed a special process to petrify the flowers and plate them with 24-karat gold. The pictures were made in several sizes with different shaped frames. The pictures were still being produced in the 1980s and sold for $6.50 to $150. They aren’t popular now and prices have dropped. Some sell online for $10 to $45. You can try to sell them locally, so you don’t have to pay for advertising, packing and shipping. The pictures might sell at a house or garage sale, or at a consignment shop.
Q: I bought a “personal wash set,” four pieces consisting of a chamber pot, pitcher and two smaller pieces. On the bottom they’re marked “Admiral V.P. Co.” I’ve searched online and can’t find any information on the company or item. It’s a pretty floral pattern, purple flowers on a white background, and is in very good shape. The seller thought the piece was made in the 1800s. Can you tell me anything about this set?
Answer: Wash sets were used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries before indoor plumbing became common. A washstand, usually in the bedroom, held the items necessary to “wash up.” The pitcher was used to fill a washbasin or bowl. The chamber pot usually had a lid. Other pieces could include a soap dish, hair receiver, toothbrush holder and slop jar. This mark was used by Vodrey Pottery Company of East Liverpool, Ohio. The company made white graniteware and semi-porcelain. It was in business under that name from 1896 until 1928. A pitcher and bowl set from an average maker sells for $100 to $150, the slop jar with lid for about $75, and small pieces for $25-$40.
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.
- Underwood Standard Typewriter, No. 5, round keys, ruler, half-moon opening, black, 11 x 12 inches, $120.
- Coverlet, “Manufactured on the Latest Fashion,” trees, urn, flowers, circles, blue and white, fringe, Seifert & Co., 89 x 96 inches, $330.
- Baccarat vase, cut glass, gold enamel, leaves, 19 x 5 inches, $375.
- Wrought iron gate, 4 sections, scrollwork, repeating kidney shapes, center hinged gate, 73 x 97 inches, $800.
- Galle vase, pink flowers, brown stems, leaves, waisted neck, cameo glass, 15 inches, $81
- Ship’s binnacle, brass, iron, mahogany, lift off dome, doors, gimbal mounted compass, adjustable prism, H. Hughes &
- Son, 19 x 17 inches, $1,230.
- Vanity, mirror, drawer, inlay, bronze mounts, candelabra sconces, curved, 63 x 46 inches, $1,375.
- Minton plate, pate-sur-pate center, cupid, grasses, reticulated rim, gilt, 9 inches, $1,625.