Imitation sincerest form of flattery

Great designs are often copied. The china used in the White House by President Lincoln, President Hayes and others was made in sets for White House dinners, and copies with a different back stamp were immediately sold to the public. More copies of these famous sets of china have been made in recent years.

One of the most famous sets of dishes made in the past 300 years is the Swan set created by the Meissen factory in 1735. Each white piece was made with low raised figures of swans and cattails in a lake and a flying crane. The original set had a colored overglaze design only on the rim, a few scattered flowers and Count von Bruhl’s family coat of arms. He was the factory director and ordered the 2,200-piece set for his family’s use.

Copies were made in the 18th and 19th centuries. But the copies were not as plain. The raised bird and cattail design was decorated in natural colors so a finished plate looked like a picture. The rim kept the raised pattern, but it was not decorated.

A modern white set of the dinnerware is available today. A new cup and saucer costs $289. A 19th-century cup and saucer with colored decoration auctioned in February 2010 for $593. An original set of candlesticks from the 1730s sold last year for more than $19,000.

There will be no complete Swan sets made at Meissen again, because during World War II soldiers used some of the molds for target practice.

Q: Many years ago, I bought a wooden rocking chair at an estate sale. The bottom is stamped “Buffalo Chair Works, Buffalo, N.Y.” Has my rocker grown in value?

A: It’s probably worth more than you paid for it “many years ago,” even when you consider inflation. Today, depending on its condition, it could sell for $600 or more.

Buffalo Chair Co. was a subsidiary of Edwin Sikes & Co., a furniture manufacturer established in Buffalo in the mid-19th century. Buffalo Chair Co. was founded in 1875 and went out of business in 1919. So your chair is at least close to 100 years old.

Q: We have a piece that we think is ivory or bone that has a drawing of two big ships, some canoes and other things on the front. On the back it says, “The Whaler Indian off Tahiti.” It is about 7¾ inches long. Can you tell us anything at all about it?

A: The Indian was a whaling ship that operated out of London in the early 1800s. You have a reproduction of a piece of scrimshaw. Scrimshaw is bone, ivory or whale’s teeth carved by sailors and others for entertainment during sailing-ship days. It was made as early as 1800, but there are many reproductions, fakes and modern pieces made on bone, ivory or plastic.

Q: Do you have any information on the Tykie Toy Co.?

A: Tykie toys are Bakelite “crib toys” that were made in Piqua, Ohio, from the 1930s until about 1952. The first toys were made by Sarah and Richard Grosvenor for their son, Michael, when he was teething. Michael’s nickname was “Tykie.” The family lived above Richard’s father’s machine shop.

Eventually the company had several employees and the toys were sold at Marshall Field’s, Saks and other stores. Various characters were made, including Baby Bunny, Boppy Bear and Eppie Elephant. A children’s book of stories about the Tykie characters was published by the company in 1946.

Q: About 13 years ago, I bought a 73-inch floor lamp from my grandparents’ estate. My grandparents bought it in the late 1960s, but I have no idea how old it was then or what they paid. Cast into the bottom of the lamp base is the phrase “1968 L & L WMC 8884.” Please give me some information about the maker.

A: The initials in the mark stand for “Loevsky & Loevsky White Metal Castings,” a corporation that was in business in Carlstadt, N.J., from about 1937 until at least the 1970s. The lamp was probably new when your grandparents bought it.

The first number in the mark, 1968, could be the year it was made. The second number may be a model number.

Terry 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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