Kovels' Antiques: broken mirror makes-do as folk art

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel
Cowles Syndicate
Broken mirrors don't have to be bad luck. This one was made into a piece of folk art that still had its use.

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." These were words to live by in the days before mass production, online shopping and overnight shipping.

This leaf-shaped hand mirror in an irregular wooden frame is a "make-do" mirror, made by setting a broken mirror in a frame so it could still be used. It sold for $438 at Cowan's Auctions. The shape of the mirror and the chip carving on its frame and handle show it was made with care — a piece of folk art as well as a utilitarian object.

Question: I'm hoping you can tell me about this Coca-Cola Santa doll. It belonged to my step-grandmother. My brother thinks it's about 75 years old. It's 17-inches tall and has a "Rushton Toy Company" stamp on the bottom of its boot. It has a 3-inch Coke bottle in its hand. Can you tell me more about it? 

Answer: The Rushton Toy Company in Atlanta made the Santa Claus dolls for the Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola gave the dolls as gifts to their bottlers in 1957. The dolls were also sold in stores in the 1950s and '60s. They wear the traditional red Santa suit trimmed with white fur and black or white rubber boots. They have handpainted rubber faces and hands that hold one miniature liquid-filled Coca-Cola bottle made of glass. They have recently sold for $45 to $300. The Santas with the bottles, like yours, are more valuable. You can find an empty Coke bottle for sale online to use for your dolls. Save all your holiday decorations. They become more valuable each year.

Q: Our family inherited a framed etching titled "Head of a Ram" by Eugenie Fish Glaman. The etching is number 22 of 75. Number 30 from the same series is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. We would like to donate our etching to a local museum. Is her artwork collectable and does it have any value? 

A: Eugenie Fish Glaman (1873-1956) was an American artist inspired by her childhood as a rancher's daughter in Kansas. The first time she saw paintings of sheep, she thought the animal's eyes showed no personality and they all looked the same. She strived to capture the soul and individuality of animals in her artwork. The Smithsonian American Art Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art have several of Glaman's etchings in their collections. A painting by Glaman recently sold for $840. Your etching is best appraised by an expert. 

Q: I recently saw some dishes with red, green and yellow flowers labeled "Delft." I always thought Delft was blue and white. Was I mistaken, or were the dishes mislabeled? 

A: Delft, or delftware, is a type of tin-glazed pottery like faience and majolica. It was first made in the city of Delft in Holland in the 17th century, and later in England and other countries. It is often white with blue decorations but sometimes can be multicolored, known as polychrome. Pieces are usually everyday-ware like dishes and tiles. Delft marked "Holland" was made in 1891 or later. If it is marked "Delft," it is probably from the 20th or 21st century. Today, blue-and-white porcelain may be marked and sold as Delft. Authentic Delft is pottery and softer than porcelain, so antique pieces often show signs of wear. Prices depend on age and condition.

Q: I have a set of three wooden nesting tables. They've been in our family for as a long as I can remember. They are lightweight and small. The top on the largest one is only 20 inches by 14 inches. Who invented nesting tables and are antique ones valuable? 

A: Nesting tables were made in England in the 18th century. The cabinet maker Thomas Sheraton is credited with being the first to make them. They were designed to be functional while taking up very little space in small English houses. Sets of antique nesting tables similar to yours have recently sold for $90 to $240. 

TIP: To get rid of mildew on wooden furniture, wipe the wood with a cloth dipped in a mixture of 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of bleach and 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent. Then wipe the wood dry. 

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, (Farm Forum), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallery@kovels.com.