Belleek china is one of the best-known products of Ireland. Visitors and collectors have carried Belleek teapots and vases home from Ireland since the 1850s.
Irish Belleek is easy to identify. The porcelain is thin and covered with a creamy yellow glaze that looks wet. Many say it resembles mother-of-pearl. But, best of all, there is a mark on each piece and the marks have changed through the years, so you can identify and date your Belleek. Each mark includes a picture of a harp, a tower, an Irish wolfhound, shamrocks and a banner with the name Belleek.
The mark has changed a little in size and shape, but it’s easiest to notice the color. The mark was black (1891-1946), then green (1946-1981), gold (1981-1992), brown (1984-1992), blue (1993-1999), black again (2000), then green again (2001-2009). A very popular pattern has green shamrocks scattered on the creamy glaze.
Q: I bought a Hoosier-type kitchen cabinet in 1981 for $335. The metal plate on the top says “Klemp, Leavenworth, Ks.” It’s in perfect shape and has copper hardware, metal spice racks, a metal bread drawer, large flour drawer, breadboard, silverware drawer, meat grinder attachment and enamel pullout work surface. I have been unable to find any information on the maker and wonder how much the cabinet is worth today.
A: Henry W. Klemp was born in Prussia in 1844 and moved to Kansas in 1863. He worked in Leavenworth as a wood-working machinist until he fought in the Kansas Militia during the Civil War. He returned to Leavenworth after the war and started his own furniture-making business in 1884. By 1919 his plant took up two blocks and employed 85 people.
Klemp specialized in making kitchen cabinets and dining-room tables. Hoosier-style free-standing kitchen cabinets were manufactured by about 30 different U.S. companies from 1900 into the 1930s. Today your cabinet could be worth four or more times what you paid for it.
Q: In the process of cleaning out our grandparents’ closet, we came across an old electric lamp with three overhanging flowerlike fixtures. The bronze base is embossed “ML Co., pat. 1926.” Any information?
A: Your lamp probably was made by Edward Miller & Co., also known as the Miller Lamp Co. The company made lamps in Meriden, Conn., from the 1880s through the 1920s — moving from kerosene to electricity as fuel.
If your lamp is in excellent condition, it could be worth several hundred dollars.
Q: My beautiful old mesh purse was made by the Mandalian Manufacturing Co. It’s 61/2 inches long with an art-nouveau central design of a blue butterfly on a white background. What can you tell me about the maker? And what do purses like mine sell for?
A: The Mandalian Manufacturing Co. was founded in 1915, but its origins go back to the early 1900s. That’s when Sahatiel G. Mandalian (1869-1949), a Turkish immigrant, formed a partnership in North Attleboro, Mass., to make jewelry and novelties. He changed partners in 1906, and he and Eugene A. Hawkins began manufacturing mesh purses to compete with Whiting & Davis. When his partnership with Hawkins ended in 1915, Mandalian incorporated under his own name.
Mandalian was an inventor, too, and helped build the first machine to produce fish-scale mesh. The mesh had furnace-fired enameled links that glowed, and the company advertised the product as “pearlized mesh.” Mandalian purses are eagerly sought by collectors and can sell for $200 to $350, depending on style, frame and condition. Mandalian sold his company to Whiting & Davis in 1944. Whiting & Davis is still in business in Attleboro Falls, Mass.
Q: I have an 8mm cartoon titled “Steamboat Willie,” along with the original box. My dad bought it when I was about 8, and I’m 69 now. What would it sell for?
A: Not too much — perhaps $20, depending on the condition of the film and the box. “Steamboat Willie” was the first Disney sound cartoon in which Mickey Mouse appeared. But your film is not an original release meant for movie theaters. It’s the 8mm version sold for home viewing by Hollywood Film Enterprises from 1944 to 1950.
Terry Kovel’s column is syndicated by King Features. Write to: Kovels, (Las Vegas Review-Journal), King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.