Famous World War II graffiti makes appearances in antiques
Remember hearing “Kilroy was here”? Kilroy is a famous “doodle” seen during World War II. No one is sure exactly where it began, but in about 1939, the comic man looking over a fence while poking his nose and hands over it with the words “Kilroy was here” started to appear. The doodles were found in strange places where soldiers were stationed. The character may have been inspired by an earlier bit of graffiti used by Australians during World War I with the words “Foo was here.” He reappeared in the next war from 1941 to 1945. Kilroy graffiti was found in barracks, inside submarines, and, it is claimed, on the beaches at Normandy when the troops landed for the famous battle. “Kilroy was here,” with or without the doodle, still is part of American slang and has appeared in TV shows, movies and even songs in this century. The face over the fence has been made into inexpensive three-dimensional, carnival chalkware figures and even banks. A red plaster bank was one of several Kilroy pop-art items featured in a Hakes auction in 2016. It sold for $168.37, probably to someone who remembers seeing a Kilroy message years ago.
Q My mother gave me a Coalport bowl that was given to her by an aunt. It’s 10 inches wide and in excellent condition. There is a mark on the bottom that has a crown with “England” above it and “Coalport, A.D. 1750” below it, and the words “Jade,” “Japan” and “Old Coalport.” What can you tell me about its history and value?
A The Coalport Porcelain Works was founded as John Rose & Co. in 1795 in Coalport, Shropshire, England. The Coalport name did not appear until about 1815. While 1750 is part of the mark, it is not the year of the company’s founding; it is thought to be the date pottery was first made in Shropshire. The Coalport factory made many shapes and patterns of table ware. “Japan” patterns, bold Japanese-inspired designs on dinnerware and tea sets in underglaze blue and overglaze red, green and gold were very popular. Japan patterns were made from about 1799 until about 1840. Your bowl is a Coalport reproduction of an earlier pattern that the company originally made in 1830. Your bowl probably was made between the years the crown mark was used, from 1891 until 1920. It’s not an exact reproduction – the pattern was “updated” and used on shapes that were popular at the time. Coalport became part of the Wedgwood Group in 1967. Coalport stopped production in 2004. Your bowl is worth $50 to $75. A similar 19th-century Japan pattern bowl is worth about $200.
Q I have a round metal serving tray with two handles, with a mark on the bottom that is an etched castle and the letters “B.W.” Under the building it looks like it reads “Buenilum.” It’s scratched and hard to see. The tray is 111/2 inches in diameter. What is it worth?
A Frederick Buehner was born in Lindach, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1929. He began making hammered aluminum and marked it “Buenilum,” a combination of his last name and “aluminum,” in 1933. The company became Buehner & Wanner, Inc., after Franz Wanner joined the firm. The company was in New York until 1944, when it moved to Connecticut. Your “castle” mark, representing a castle in Buehner’s home town of Lindach, was adopted about 1945. Hammered aluminum kitchenware and serving pieces were made, as well as other lines. Pfaltzgraff bought Buehner & Wanner in 1969 and made Buenilum until 1979. Aluminumware has lost popularity during the past 10 years, and an 111/2-inch tray in good condition is worth about $10-$20.
Q I have several old one-cent prepaid postcards that are unused. The “stamp” on the postcard is green and pictures Thomas Jefferson. Do these postcards have any value?
A The postcards still can be used if you add enough stamps to equal the current postcard rate, which is 34 cents. However, they are worth more than face value to a collector. One-cent postcards were made from 1916 to 1952, except for two years during World War I when the rate was raised to two cents and for the years 1925 to 1928. The one-cent postcard was made on different cardstocks. Some are more valuable than others, and there are other differences that affect price. Prices range from about 25 cents to several thousand dollars. Most sell for under $1. Some of the rarest and most valuable postcards were printed on gray, rough-surfaced stock during a paper shortage in 1916. They were sold to printers for commercial use and weren’t available at the post office. Rough-surfaced postcards sold recently for over $1,700 to $2,400. The die was recut because the stamp didn’t make a good impression on the rough surface. Postcards stamped with Die II have sold for $18,500. A stamp dealer might be able to tell you what your postcards are worth.
Tip: Antique-cut diamonds (old mine-cut) are being made today. They are very similar to old diamonds, but if used as replacements in old jewelry, the new ones will be brighter.
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