Identifying and dating an antique can be tricky

BY TERRY AND KIM KOVEL Kovels’ Antiques and Collecting
Farm Forum

An unusual wall clock was offered at a recent auction. It was labeled “Friesland wall clock with automata, 1800.” Friesland is a section of Holland where people have been making clocks since the 1600s. Automata, of course, are the moving figures – in this case, boats – that are included below the clock dial for decoration and amusement. There was a moving scene with a woman milking a cow, a fisherman with a fish and three ships with sails. The clock also struck at an hour and half-hour. The clock case has windows that show the moving pendulum. Add to that the decoration of the case and dial, painted-iron Roman numerals, pierced brass hands and mahogany marquetry trim on the wooden case and hood. It had many characteristics of an early 1800s Dutch clock. It was the oldest and the most expensive of many Friesland wall clocks in the sale. Bidders also were sure it was an early clock and the winning bid was $3,444.

Q I’d like to get some information and the value of a child’s coffee or tea service with a teapot and lid, six cups and saucers, a creamer and sugar bowl with lid. The pictures on the pieces are of Snow White and the seven dwarfs. The mark on the bottom of the pot is a crown and the words “Creidlitz Made in Germany,” with “Bavaria” written above the crown.

A Porcelain Factory Creidlitz was in business in Creidlitz, Bavaria, Germany, from 1913 until at least the 1980s. The company made coffee and tea sets, tableware, giftware, decorative porcelain and technical porcelain, including switches and sockets. The value of your Snow White tea set is about $100.

Q I have a small cut-glass bottle that has a glass stopper and a silver cap. The bottle is rectangular, about 4 inches long by 1/2 inch wide. I read that in Victorian times, a widow would collect her tears in a vial. Could my bottle be one of these?

A Tear collecting is referenced in the Old Testament of the Bible, in ancient Roman and Greek writings, and in Victorian poems and novels, but whether tear collecting was fact or legend is unclear. In the mid-1800s, when Victorian mourning customs became popular, it is said vials were used to collect tears wept for the departed loved one. Later, the tears were sprinkled on the grave to signify the end of official mourning. Another version of the custom claims mourning would last until the tears evaporated. It’s difficult to imagine how a crying person could coax their tears into such a small bottle, but it makes a very romantic image. During the Victorian era, glass bottles were made with decorative caps, and were similar in shape to some scent bottles. Your bottle, cut glass with a silver filigree cap, is worth about $30. If there is a mark on the silver maker’s mark on the cap, it will be worth more.

Q When my mother passed away, she left a bowl commemorating the 1939 New York World’s Fair. It’s round, 10 inches wide, and the stamp on the bottom shows it was made as a souvenir by Paden City Pottery, Paden City, West Virginia. I am interested in finding out its value and where I might find an interested buyer.

A Your 1939 World’s Fair bowl made by Paden City Pottery is worth from $35 to $50 in a retail sale, depending on its condition. The brightly colored Art Deco design on the center pictures stylized symbols of the fair, along with musical notes and gilt trim. Some also have a red band on the edge. It may be of interest to collectors of Art Deco items or World’s Fair memorabilia. Collectors from both groups can be found online. Anyone who sells collectibles has to get them somewhere, and many buy from people like you to resell. You probably will be asked how much money you expect to get.

Q Do people still collect pewter ice-cream molds? Are they safe to use? I thought it would be fun to get a mold shaped like a baby to use for a baby shower.

A There still are collectors of the metal molds, but they are much harder to find than they were years ago. The government decided that the lead in the molds was dangerous and ice-cream figures could not be made at ice-cream shops to be eaten by the public. We know several men who worked for ice-cream manufacturing companies who bought barrels of the useless molds. They started selling them to antiques collectors and started a hobby. Today the molds are plastic, not metal. There are vintage tin chocolate molds available at some shows. Both kinds of molds were used from about 1880 to 1950. The price of the mold depends on the maker and the size. The larger the more expensive. To use a mold, you need all the clips and other parts that holds the mold together after it is filled.

Tip: Chocolate molds can be used to make candy and other party food. Pour melted butter into the mold, put the filled mold into the freezer. Take the mold out and unmold the fancy shaped pieces of butter for parties.

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It was more important to own a clock in the 1800s than it is now. There were no cellphones, land phones, wristwatches or electric clocks to tell time if you didn’t have a clock – just the chiming clock in the church steeple or city hall. Home clocks had to be wound at least once a week to keep accurate time. This 1800s Dutch clock had chimes and an entertaining moving scene of ships and fishing. It sold in Massachusetts for $3,444 at a Skinner Inc. auction. Cowles Syndicate photo