Decoration is everything when it comes to French porcelain

Farm Forum

What sells at antique shops and shows is determined by customers who might like traditional, modern, eclectic, country, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, Victorian, Western or many other styles. Preferences are influenced by age, location and what a collector remembers from Mom’s and Grandma’s houses. French porcelain has been popular since the 18th century, and large urns still sell quickly. While Sevres porcelain is the best-known, there were many other designers and factories. Large urns were made by the end of the 18th century to be used in large rooms with high ceilings or in gardens. Those that look like a large flower pot on a pedestal held plants or flowers. Most were placed on the floor. Those that narrowed at the top and had a cover and elaborate decorations were strictly ornamental. They were put on a low table or a fireplace mantel to be admired. All of them are called “urns,” and the decorated ones often are called “Sevres-style.” Of course, the original old urns made by the Sevres factory are the most desirable and most expensive. But some of the Sevres-style urns by others sell for high prices, too. The quality of the work, the amount of gold trim and the beauty of the decoration set the price. Prices range from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000. Most popular are pictures of masses of flowers or landscapes that include well-dressed people.

Q I bought a piece of property that happened to have a mobile home parked on it. Once I bought the property, I owned the mobile home, too. The three-piece bedroom set in the mobile home includes a bed, dresser and chest of drawers. The mark inside a drawer on the dresser and chest is “Henredon Fine Furniture.” What can you tell me about the company and the set’s value?

A Henredon Furniture Co. was founded in Morgantown, N.C., in 1945, so the bedroom set was not made before that year. The Henredon brand name has been owned by Furniture Brands, Inc., based in St. Louis, since 2001. Henredon furniture is known to be of high quality, but your set would sell as “used furniture,” not as “antique furniture.” Try to sell it locally – it is expensive to ship furniture a long way.

Q Our statue of a peasant girl is 25 inches tall. She is sitting on a tree stump and holds a basket of cherries on her lap. On the round base, there’s a plaque in the shape of a scroll that says “La Cerises par Cana.” Wasn’t there a famous 19th-century French sculptor named Cana? How can I find out what it’s worth?

A Louis Emile Cana (1845-1895) was a French sculptor of bronzes, but he specialized in sculpting animals. Another French sculptor, Francois Hippolyte Moreau (1832-1927) created a bronze sculpture titled “Les Cerises” (“The Cherries”) that matches the description of yours. His original bronzes are signed with his name. Known copies signed like yours were made of spelter, a zinc alloy. Still, if yours is one of those and is in excellent condition, it could sell for several hundred dollars. An original Moreau is worth more than $2,000.

Q I know about Teco pottery and its matte green vases, but I just heard the company also made tiles. Is that true?

A Yes. A color ad in a 1913 catalog shows a variety of tile murals and single tiles used for trim made by Teco. Other tiles are also pictured. Earlier black-and-white ads show different tiles. Teco advertised that it made “architectural terra cotta, Teco and garden pottery and wall, floor and art tile” until 1917 or later.

Q Years ago, I took a chance and won a “basket of cheer” at a church bazaar. I still have one of the unopened bottles from that basket. It’s a bottle of Benedictine liqueur with a red seal on the front and a label that reads “D.O.M.” and “86 proof.” I figure it’s an antique and would like to sell it, but I don’t know how to go about it.

A Benedictine is an herbal liqueur that has been produced in France since the 1860s. “D.O.M.” has been its motto since the beginning and stands for “Deo Optimo Maximo,” which can be translated as “Praise be to God, most good, most great.” Bacardi owns the brand today. Your bottle is not an antique, since it has to date from after the end of Prohibition in the United States. But it was bottled before the liqueur’s alcohol content was lowered to 80 proof. U.S. liquor laws come into play when you want to sell a full bottle of an alcoholic beverage, even a bottle some might consider collectible. Some national auctions hold special whiskey auctions every year. Unless you just spread the word among your friends and acquaintances to sell your bottle, you might try contacting a nationally known auction house. Your bottle might sell for $50 or more.

Q You mentioned that old glass bottles and insulators and even pressed glass goblets may turn purple if left in the sun a long time. Why?

A We learned from an article in Antique Bottle & Glass Collector magazine that coloring changes in glass are caused by chemicals in the glass. Arsenic was used in glassmaking before World War II, and when left in the sun, that glass turns yellow. Manganese was used before 1930, and that glass turns pale purple in sunlight. The very dark purple bottles seen at flea markets today are irradiated with modern machines, not by the slow rays of the sun.

Tip: When repairing a table or toy, take digital pictures at each stage. Even photograph the screws and nails so you can put everything back in the same place. The photos in reverse order are a step-by-step guide to what to do.

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