Scratch-resistance, color popular in 19th century pottery

Tim Kovel and Kerry Kovel
Cowles Syndicate
Many 19th-century potteries and amateur artists made and decorated stoneware figures. This handmade ram sold at Conestoga Auctions for $144.

Antique stoneware was often used in small local potteries in 19th century New England. They made useful objects in molds and fanciful figurines and vases that could be decorated by hand. 

Bristol-slip glaze was popular because it was scratch-resistant and added color. One amateur artist made a resting ram to be used as a doorstop. The 9-inch hand-molded animal sold for $144, probably because it was missing part of his horn and an ear.

Question: I was left a Lane Cedar Chest that has an aroma tightness feature. The size of the chest is 17 1/2 inches high, 19 inches deep and 44 inches wide. The inside of the chest is in excellent condition, but the outside does have some wear on it. I'm not sure if it's worth holding on to. Is it worth anything? 

Answer: Lane started in 1912 as the Standard Red Cedar Chest Company in Altavista, Virginia. John Lane was president and his son, Ed, was vice president and general manager. It became The Lane Company in 1922. 

The company was known for its cedar chests, which were often used as "hope chests" by brides-to-be. Lane began making occasional tables in 1951 and expanded to include lines of bedroom, living room and dining room furniture in the 1960s and '70s. Today, Lane is owned by United Furniture Industries. 

You can find the age of your Lane chest by looking for the serial number on the bottom.

If you read the number backward, you will find the production date. For example, serial number 753150 indicates the chest was produced on 05/13/57. An extra digit at the end of the serial number is the plant number. 

Lane cedar chests made before 1987 have the old-style locks that can latch shut and trap a child inside. Those locks should be removed or replaced. Value depends on style and condition. Some Lane chests sell for less than $50, others for over $100.

Q: I have a piece of Weller pottery that was my grandfather's. It's stamped "Weller" on the base. He was a barber and used this piece to hold used towels in the barber shop. I'm not looking to sell, but I would like to know more about the piece. I've seen some pieces with a similar glaze (dark green and burgundy) but haven't been able to find anything else the same shape or size. 

A: Samuel A. Weller started a pottery in Fultonham, Ohio, in 1872. The pottery moved to Zanesville, Ohio, in 1882. By 1915, it was the largest art pottery in the world. Hundreds of lines of pottery were made. Weller's prestige lines were discontinued around 1920. Commercial lines were made until the pottery closed in 1948. 

Some old Weller pottery sells for thousands of dollars. Pieces made in the 1920s and later are more affordable. It's impossible to do a good appraisal if you can't handle the piece. You should take it to someone nearby who sells antique pottery or send an email with a picture to Kovels.com.

Q: I want to sell a vintage lamp made by H.A. Best Lamp Company of Chicago. It has a bronze base and domed glass shade. What is its value? 

A: Harry Arthur Best started the H.A. Best Lamp Company around 1915. The company made lamps in art nouveau and arts and crafts styles. It was in business until about 1935. The value of your lamp depends on the type of shade. Some H.A. Best Company lamps with caramel glass shades have sold for $250 to $850. 

FROM A READER: The advertisement for the cold Cream of Wheat pictured on your July 2 column was not showing cold, lumpy breakfast cereal. It was showing a pudding. The pudding was made from uncooked Cream of Wheat, lingonberry or other fruit juice, lemon juice and sugar. It was cooked for about five minutes and then set aside to cool. When cool, it was beaten with a mixer for at least 10 minutes, until it was light and fluffy. Then it was chilled for at least two hours. It was served with fruit, cream or whipped cream. 

TIP: Take the glass covers on your old light fixtures and wash them on the top rack of the dishwasher, but only if they are not painted or enameled. Use the lowest heat possible on your dishwasher.

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.