Examine Royal Vienna for originality

Looking for information on a piece you were told is “antique Royal Vienna porcelain”? You’ll find it in “Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide,” and other online sources listed with “beehive” porcelain.

The first mark used by the Royal Porcelain Manufactory in 1744 was actually a line drawing of the outline of a shield. But when turned upside down, it looked like a beehive. Collectors today call the mark a beehive and the porcelain “Royal Vienna.”

The factory closed in 1864. But since then, porcelains have been made in Germany, Austria, Japan and other Asian countries that are reproductions of the expensive original antique pieces. Be very careful to examine any piece called Royal Vienna or any piece with a beehive mark before you buy it.

A December 2014 auction by New Orleans Auction Co. sold a pair of Royal Vienna Porcelain “Kinderkopf” busts that were copies of figures designed by J. J. Kaendler at the German Meissen factory in the 1770s. A figure made by Kaendler in the 18th century would cost thousands of dollars. The pair, sold in New Orleans, were made about 1860 at the Konigliche Porcelain Factory in Berlin and brought $676.

Q: We inherited an oak bookcase from my grandmother. It has five shelves that can be separated from each other. Each shelf has a lift-up glass door. The bookcase is labeled “Mission Bookcase Unit, manufactured by The Globe-Wernicke Co., Cincinnati, O.” Please tell us its value.

A: Globe Furniture Co. of Cincinnati bought Wernicke Co. of Minneapolis in 1899 to form the Globe-Wernicke Co. Otto Wernicke had patented his sectional bookcase in 1892 and it became a best-seller for the company.

The bookcases, made in oak, ash, walnut or mahogany, became known as “barrister bookcases.” They were sold not only to lawyers, but to libraries, government offices and storefronts. Today, the bookcases are sought by collectors. A five-shelf unit in excellent condition would sell for more than $1,000.

Q: I have a hardbound book titled “Walter Keane,” part of the Tomorrow’s Masters Series by Johnson Meyers. It’s a first printing by Johnson Meyer Publishing Co., Redwood City, Calif., and has a copyright date of 1964.

Is there any collectible value to this book because of the 2014 movie “Big Eyes,” depicting the scandal about Walter Keane not painting the pictures sold as his work? I also have the book “MDH Margaret Keane” with the same copyright date.

A: These books originally were sold as a boxed two-volume set. Margaret Keane signed some of her paintings with her initials, MDH, and her last name. Some of these are in the book about her.

Walter claimed credit for her paintings of big-eyed children, and those paintings are included in the book about him. The couple divorced in 1965, but it was not until a 1970 radio interview that Margaret revealed that she was the real painter of the “big eye” pictures.

The movie has generated interest in the Keanes, and online sources are asking high prices for the books, but they probably will not sell for much more than other used books. A set was offered for sale online for $700, but hasn’t sold yet.

Q: I bought a brass plate at a tag sale for a very inconsequential amount, thinking it might have a Hitler connection. It has a shield-shaped coat of arms and the word “Berchtesgaden” and a coat of arms with crossed keys and trefoils with a smaller shield in the middle. The back of the plate has a date scratched on it, “015-05-1838.” The plate is 9 inches across and looks hand-hammered. Can you tell me the age and value?

A: The date doesn’t seem to be important in the history of Berchtesgaden but would indicate it was long before it was a retreat for Hitler and other Nazi leaders. Your plate does have the Berchtesgaden coat of arms in the center.

Since the numbers on the back of the plate are scratched in, the date probably commemorates something meaningful only to the person who originally owned the plate. A 9-inch plate, with handwork, sells for about $50-$75.

Q: We inherited a silver coffeepot marked “Redfield &Rice, New York” and “August 1866.” It’s 14½ inches high. We think it’s silver plate. Can you tell us something about the maker?

A: James H. Redfield and James Rice were silver manufacturers who worked with various partners in the 1850s. In 1863 they started Redfield &Rice. The company became Redfield &Rice Manufacturing Co. in 1866 and was in business until 1872, primarily making flatware but also making some hollowware.

Hollowware pieces often were “bought in the metal” from other manufacturers and then plated. Some of the hollowware plated by Redfield &Rice was made by Reed &Barton and some by other manufacturers. The company went bankrupt in 1872.

Q: I have a cylindrical vase signed “Troika, Cornwall, England.” Can you tell me something about the maker, age and value?

A: Troika Pottery was in business from 1963 to 1983. It was founded by Benny Sirota, Leslie Illsley and Jan Thomson, who took over a pottery in St. Ives, Cornwall, England, in 1963. “Troika” is a Russian sled pulled by three horses and can also be used to describe a group of three people managing a business.

The pottery moved to Newlyn, Cornwall, in 1970. By 1980, Illsley was running the pottery alone. Business declined and the pottery closed in 1983.

Pottery was made in modern shapes with both textured and glossy finishes. Pieces with the rough textured finish are more often found than those with the smooth finish. Vases sell for $150 to $500. Few are found outside England.

Q: Years ago, I purchased an oak A&P service counter from a corner grocery store in Clifton, N.J. It’s 36 inches high and 10 feet long and has 21 drawers and 21 glass-enclosed pasta displays. Do you think it’s valuable?

A: A&P, a chain of grocery stores that was once the largest in the country, started out as the Great Atlantic &Pacific Tea Co. By the end of the 19th century, it had become the first grocery store chain in the United States.

The value of your counter depends on its age and condition. If it dates from the early 1900s and is in great condition, it could sell for more than $1,000 — perhaps much more. But there is always the issue of shipping. If you want to sell, contact an auction house that deals with early advertising and store items.

Terry &Kim Kovel’s column is syndicated by King Features. Write to: Kovels, (Las Vegas Review-Journal), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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