'Goat and Bee' milk jug from 1700s inspired by fables, tales

Tim Kovel and Kerry Kovel
Cowles Syndicate
The "Goat and Bee" milk jug with incised triangle and script Chelsea mark, 1745-49, sold at Doyle for $3,780.

Chelsea porcelain was made in Chelsea, England, about 1750. One of the famous pieces is the "Goat and Bee" milk jug that was designed by Nicholas Sprimont (1716-1771). He was born in Liege (in what is now Belgium) and started working in London about 1742. 

An auction of important early porcelain was held recently by Doyle in New York City and some Goat and Bee jugs were sold. Each was marked with the incised triangle and script mark used by the Chelsea Porcelain Factory and designed by Sprimont. Other examples of the jug can be seen in at least three museum collections. The jug has an irregular pear shape and is decorated with colorful flowers. A goat is resting on one side of the base; another goat is on the other side. A large black bee with yellow wings is resting on a flower. The jug is 4 1/4 inches tall. 

There are several fables and tales about two goats and a bee. They all start with the two goats trying to cross a ravine on a narrow bridge. In Aesop's fables, the two goats are trying to cross a ravine on a narrow log. They were on opposite sides of the ravine but did not have room to pass. They were both too stubborn to let the other go so they ran across, bumped, and both fell into the ravine. Moral of the story: Sometimes giving way is better than stubbornness. 

The Goat and Bee jug in the Doyle auction sold for $3,780.

More:Aug. 1: Current prices

Question: I recently bought two 6-inch Fiestaware bud vases at a thrift store. One color is lapis and one color is claret. Both say they are limited editions. I paid $39.99 each. Was that a good price?

Answer: Fiestaware was introduced by the Homer Laughlin China Co. of Newell, West Virginia, in 1936. It was redesigned in 1969, withdrawn in 1973, and reissued again in 1986 in different colors. It is still being made. The bud vase was part of the first set of pieces introduced in 1936. It was discontinued in the mid-1940s, so old Fiesta bud vases are only found in the original six colors (red, cobalt, yellow, light green, old ivory and turquoise). They are still being made today in new colors (lapis was introduced in 2013 and claret in 2016) and the original molds. The post-1986 vases look almost identical to their vintage counterparts. You didn't get a bargain and may have overpaid by $10 or $20. But they are pretty, so enjoy them!

Q: I still have some of my daughter's Polly Pockets, which were popular in the 1990s. Are they collectible?

A: Polly Pockets were made by the British company Bluebird Toys starting in 1989. Polly Pocket toys were plastic cases that opened to form a dollhouse or other playsets for Polly Pocket dolls. The 1-inch-tall dolls folded in the middle, like the case, and had circular bases which slotted into holes in the case interior. The dolls also came as pendants or large rings. In the late 1990s, Mattel bought the company and redesigned a new, larger Polly Pocket. In 2002, Mattel stopped producing the smaller Polly Pockets, but continued to make the larger fashion doll. Polly Pocket toys made by Bluebird are collectible and often rare. The most valuable vintage Polly Pockets were released between 1989 and 1998.

Q: I'm looking for information about a bottle opener in the shape of a black dog. The dog is standing in tall, green grass. I think it's cast metal. It's about 3 3/4 inches high and 5 inches long. The bottle opener is on the bottom. It's marked "Scott Prod. Inc., Newark, N.J." 

A: Scott Products Corp. was founded in Newark, New Jersey, in 1948. It made hand-painted, cast zinc figures and bottle openers with equestrian, waterfowl and canine themes. The company is no longer in business. This Black Labrador Retriever bottle opener was part of the company's Canine Collection and was listed on the company's website for $37 in 2008. In good condition, it sells today for about twice as much. 

Q: Can you give me information on selling a stamp collection? I'm 96 years old and none of the family is interested in my stamp books. One is all uncancelled stamps, and the other is nearly every stamp issued from 1925 into the 1970s.  

A: We are not experts in the value of stamps or coins. Stamps have been collected since the first postage stamps were issued in Great Britain in 1840. The first U.S. postage stamps were issued in 1847. The value of a stamp collection depends on rarity, desirability and condition of the stamps. Stamps should be mounted in albums using special hinges or stamp mounts. Stamp collecting is a specialized field, and a large collection should be seen by an expert. Take your albums to a dealer who sells stamps, or go to a stamp show. Ask for an opinion on the value of your collection but be sure to ask if there is a fee for an opinion. An unused U.S. stamp can still be used for postage. 

Q: I'd like some information about a silver gravy boat and underplate marked "silver on copper." Above that are three symbols. The first one is a crown and the third one is a shield, but I can't make out the one in the middle. Can you tell me the maker? Also how do I clean them? 

A: These marks were used by Sheridan Silver Co. of Taunton, Massachusetts. The middle symbol is the letter "S." The company started as C & C Silver Co. in 1944 and was incorporated as Sheridan Silver Co. in 1946. It made silver-plated hollowware. You can clean silver-plated pieces in warm soapy water. If they are tarnished, use silver polish to clean them. If there are spots that don't clean up, the silver may have worn off. The only "cure" is to have the pieces replated.

TIP: Use your grandmother's good dishes. Who are you saving them for?

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers' questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallery@kovels.com.