Rare Ferock pottery unknown by less experienced collectors
Ferock is a name that appears on art pottery but is not well known. In 2012 a vase marked “Ferock” was sold at a Humler & Nolan auction in Cincinnati for $2,760. The auction house and a few collectors knew who made it and how rare it is. Frank Ferrell (sometimes spelled Ferrel) worked in Zanesville, Ohio, in the early 1900s. He also worked for Weller (1897-1905), Roseville (1918-1954), J. B. Owens and Peters and Reed, all nearby Ohio potteries. He is best known for his work at Roseville designing pottery lines. The Ferock vase that just sold was made for the University of North Dakota from North Dakota clay. It was shown at the National Corn Exhibition in 1909. The Arts and Crafts style was interpreted with angular designs on one side and raised fold-like markings on the other. The 12-inch-high vase is covered with a matte, crazed, light beige glaze. It is pictured in two books about the University of North Dakota School of Mines pottery. The university’s pottery opened in 1892 and its pieces were sold, but student work was not offered until 1909. It closed in 1949. Because the vase has such a complete history and was made by an important designer, it attracted the bids of serious collectors and brought a high price. Collectors today search for the less-publicized but well-designed pottery of the 1900-1950s era as well as later studio pottery. The best pieces of well-known art pottery like Rookwood and Weller can sell for more than $10,000 – too expensive for most collectors.
Q About 25 years ago, I bought a solid copper lithographic printing plate at a yard sale. It weighs 15 pounds and is 10 by 6 1/2 inches. The image is a navigational aid for the “Mahukona Harbor and Approaches” of Hawaii. It’s also marked “No. 4101 C&GS.” Does the plate have any value?
A Copper printing plates like yours were made to print surveying charts for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (C&GS). The survey that resulted in the manufacture of your plate was done in 1910. Today the U.S. surveying agency, which manages a national coordinate system for mapping, charting and other engineering applications, is called the National Geodetic Survey. It’s part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Survey plates as old as yours and in excellent condition can sell for $150 or more.
Q I have an Ada Lum cloth doll with embroidered Chinese features and a long braid in the back. It is dressed in blue “pajama-style” jacket and pants, woven sandals and a straw hat. There is a tag on the doll’s wrist that says “Farmer, an original Ada Lum Doll” and “Made in Hong Hong.” Can you tell me something about the maker?
A Ada Lum began designing and making dolls in Shanghai in the 1940s. At first she made them just for friends, but as more people wanted them she started a business making dolls. When the Communists took over in 1949, Ada Lum and her family fled to Hong Kong, where she continued her business and employed other Chinese refugees. At first she worked out of her home, but by 1962 she had a shop in the Mandarin Hotel. Her dolls were popular during the 1950s and ’60s and many were bought by American tourists. Ada Lum died in 1988. Value of your doll: about $75.
Q I have a 1920s tea cart made by the Paalman Furniture Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich. It’s in excellent condition. Can you tell me its value?
A Tea wagons, also called “tea carts,” became popular in the early 1920s. They have a tray top, one or two shelves below and wheels so they can be pushed from the kitchen to dining room. Some have leaves that can be extended for use as a table. Paalman Furniture Co. was one of the best-known makers of tea wagons. The company was founded by John H. Paalman in 1916. He worked for several other furniture companies and was a designer and manager for Stickley before leaving to form Paalman Furniture Co. The company was sold in 1966. Vintage tea carts sell well today. Value of your tea wagon: $250-$300.
Q I have a sugar and creamer set from the Pine Ridge Sioux Indians. I purchased them at a yard sale about 20 years ago. On the bottom it is signed “O. Cottier” and “Pine Ridge Sioux.” It is also marked with a pine tree design. I did some research. Olive Cottier is a sister of Ella Irving, aka Ella Woody aka Ella Cox, whose pottery is in the Smithsonian Institution. Just wondering if there is any value to my sugar and creamer set.
A In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) set up a program to teach students at the Pine Ridge Indian reservation boarding school how to make pottery. Experienced artists and potters were brought in to teach. Olive Cottier (1909-1974) and her sisters, Ella and Bernice, were students in the program. Sometime after the WPA program ended, Ella bought a building in Pine Ridge, S.D., where the sisters continued to make pottery from local clays. Ella and Olive made the pottery and Bernice decorated it. Their pottery closed in the 1980s. Your sugar and creamer set is worth about $75.
Tip: Save your broken dishes, vases and other decorative china to make mosaic stepping stones or tabletops for your garden. Chipped vases can still be used for flowers or turned upside to make toad homes.
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