The ‘make-do’ mirror of a frugal era is prized today


“Use it, use it, do it, or do it without.” These were words to live by in the days before mass production, online shopping and overnight shipping.

This leaf-shaped hand mirror in an irregular wooden frame is a makeshift mirror, made by placing a broken mirror in a frame so it can still be used. It sold for $438 at Cowan’s Auctions. The shape of the mirror and the chipping on its frame and handle show that it has been carefully crafted – a piece of folk art as well as a utilitarian object.

Q: I hope you can tell me about this Coca-Cola Santa doll. It belonged to my grandmother-in-law. My brother thinks he’s about 75. He stands 17 inches tall and has a “Rushton Toy Company” stamp on the bottom of his boot. He has a 3 inch Coke bottle in his hand. Can you tell me more?

A: The Rushton Toy Company in Atlanta made the Santa Claus dolls for the Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola gave the dolls as gifts to its bottlers in 1957. The dolls were also sold in stores in the 1950s and 1960s. They wear the traditional red Santa Claus costume trimmed with white fur and black rubber boots or white. They have hand-painted rubber faces and hands that hold a miniature Coca-Cola bottle filled with glass liquid. They recently sold for between $45 and $300. Santas with bottles, like yours, are more valuable. You can find an empty Coke bottle for sale online to use for your dolls. Save all your holiday decorations. They become more valuable every year.

Q: Our family inherited a framed print entitled “Ram’s Head” by Eugenie Fish Glaman. The print is number 22 of 75. Number 30 in the same series is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC We would like to donate our print to a local museum. Is his work collectible and does it have a value?

A: Eugenie Fish Glaman (1873-1956) was an American artist inspired by her childhood as a rancher’s daughter in Kansas. When she first saw paintings of sheep, she thought the animal’s eyes showed no personality and they all looked the same. She strived to capture the soul and individuality of animals in her works. The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have several prints by Glaman in their collections. A Glaman painting recently sold for $840. Your engraving is best assessed by an expert.

Q: I recently saw dishes with red, green and yellow flowers labeled “Delft”. I always thought Delft was blue and white. Was I mistaken or were the dishes mislabelled?

A: Delft, or delftware, is a type of glazed pottery like earthenware and majolica. It was first made in the city of Delft in Holland in the 17th century, and later in England and other countries. It is often white with blue decorations but can sometimes be multicolored, called polychrome. Pieces are usually everyday items like dishes and tiles. Delft marked “Holland” was made in 1891 or later. If it is marked “Delft”, it is probably from the 20th or 21st century. Today blue and white porcelain can be branded and sold as Delft. Authentic Delft is pottery and softer than porcelain, so antique pieces often show signs of wear. Prices depend on age and condition.

Q: I have a set of three wooden nesting tables. They have been in our family for as long as I can remember. They are light and small. The top of the largest is only 20 inches by 14 inches. Who invented nesting tables and do old ones have value?

A: Nesting tables were made in England in the 18th century. Cabinetmaker Thomas Sheraton is credited with being the first to make them. They have been designed to be functional while taking up very little space in small English homes. Antique nesting table sets similar to yours recently sold for between $90 and $240.

POINT: To remove mold from wood furniture, wipe the wood with a cloth dampened with a mixture of 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon bleach, and 1 tablespoon liquid dish detergent. Then dry the wood.

on the block

Current prices are recorded from antique shows, flea markets, sales and auctions across the United States. Prices vary by location due to local economic conditions.

Mirror, wooden frame, rectangular, carved, pierced with leafy scrollwork, peacock crest, snakes in the corners, Thailand, 20 by 32½ inches, $40.

Card, baseball, Willie Mays, New York Mets, outfield, #305, batting record on reverse, Topps, 1973, $60.

Towel bar, walnut, bead panel and tapestry, orange background, black and white flowers, top crest, carved, woman’s face with veil, two turned bars, Victorian, 24 inches, wide, $155.

Bottle, decanter, animal-shaped stopper, yellow glass body, chunky base, rigaree around neck, silver necklace, Aesthetic Movement, British, 7½ by 5½ inches, $190.

Bronze vase, art nouveau, asymmetrical, overlapping petals, patina, golden flower, melted signature, Antoine Bofill, 32 x 16 cm.

Sign, “Miel De Ruches”, shield-shaped, painted, white letters, black background, multicolored wildflowers in upper corners, yellow bee in center, “De L’abbaye de Montignac” below, suspension loops, 40 x 24 inches, $475.

Firefighting, extinguisher, glass bottle, brown, metal lid, paper tag, whiz, blue bottom, red trim, 11 inch, $555.

Meissen porcelain group, four children, gardeners, 18th century costume, boy on wickerwork pedestal, holds basket of flowers, boy with shovel, girl with rake, flower girl in apron, round base, pink drapery, leafy borders and ornate, gilt trimmings, crossed swords mark, 10½ by 6 inches, $1,020.

Cabinet, Kas, baroque, walnut, two sections, carved panel doors, tortoiseshell medallions, ebonized trim, pilasters, six lion mask rings, bun feet, Dutch, 68 by 72 by 29 inches, $1,920 .


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