Antique perfumes make for a sentimental Mother's Day gift

Terry and Kim Kovel
Cowles Syndicate

Perfume is always a popular Mother's Day gift. It combines luxury and sentiment -- the sense of smell is closely linked to emotion and memory -- and lasts much longer than a bouquet of flowers. Perfume bottles are often works of art in and of themselves, increasing their appeal. They are popular collectibles, whether they contain perfume or not.

There is even a major club for their collectors: the International Perfume Bottle Association ( Antique and vintage perfume bottles sell well at auctions. As with most antiques, a famous maker increases the value, whether it's a perfume by a celebrated designer or a bottle by a well-known glass artist or company.

To a perfume bottle collector, it's what's on the outside that counts. An eye-catching design by a famous glassmaker brought a high price for this 19th-century Stevens & Williams bottle.

This one, made by Stevens & Williams, a famous English art glass company from the 1840s to the 1930s, sold for $1,968 at Brunk Auctions, surpassing its high estimate. Its bold color, elegant design and skilled technique contribute to the high price. The bottle is almost heart-shaped and features a white flower and leafy vine cameo cut to a bright red ground. Cameo cutting is an old glass-decorating technique where layers of glass are cut away to create a design against a different color of glass in the layer below. It was fashionable in the late 19th to early 20th century.

Question: Our church received an electric mixer for a yard sale. It has a juicer attachment, a metal bowl and several beaters. "Electricmaid" is printed on it. Does it have any value?

Answer: Your mixer was made by the A.F. Dormeyer Corporation, Chicago, Ill. in the 1930s. Electricmaid Model 3300A was Dormeyer's first multi-speed mixer designed to rival Sunbeam and Kitchenaid mixers and grinders. It could be used either as a hand mixer or attached to its stand. Mixers included meat grinding and juicer attachments. Kitchen appliances or "kitchen aids" became popular in the 1930s as electricity use spread across the United States, revolutionizing household chores. A similar mixer recently sold for $85.

Q. Recently I got an unusual porcelain coffee mug as a gift. It is called Calamityware and looks like the Blue Willow pattern. My mug has added images of a Sasquatch, giant frog, pirates, sea monster, UFOs, pterodactyls, zombie poodle and robots. Is it old? Or a new joke?

A. Calamityware porcelain was created by artist Don Moyer. He designed it and had it made at the Kristoff workshop in Poland. Kristoff is one of Europe's largest porcelain producers. The company was founded in 1831 and is still in business. Calamityware, the popular blue-and-white pattern, uses the old Willow design that has been made since 1789. A modern designer has copied the old pattern and added features like the creatures you mentioned, as well as sea monsters and flying monkeys. Moyer has created over 40 humorous dishes since 2011. Calamityware is sold on the internet and through

Q: I have a Montgomery Ward catalog from 1920 or earlier. It is in perfect condition. What is it worth?

A: Aaron Montgomery Ward, the founder of Montgomery Ward, started his mail-order business in Chicago in 1872. The company's first catalog, a single sheet, listed 163 items. Millions of catalogs were published each year beginning in the early 1900s. The first Montgomery Ward retail stores opened in 1926. The last of the stores closed in 2001. The company was sold in 2004 and was sold again in 2008. It is now part of Colony Brands, Inc. and is an online-only retailer. Value of an old catalog depends on age, content, cover art and condition. Some sell for about $35 to $50. If the catalog pictures a new invention, old tools or items that have historic value, it could be worth more. Catalogs printed before 1900 bring higher prices. Only a few sell for $100 or more.

Q: I'd like some information about a cedar chest made by the G.S. Stewart Company of Norwalk, Ohio. A label inside the lid reads "Stewart Safe Seal cedar chests." Can you tell me something about the maker, age and possible value?

A: George Swayne Stewart (1866-1939) practiced law with his father from 1888 to about 1890, when he became the secretary and treasurer of the C.W. Smith Co., a planing mill and furniture manufacturer. By 1894, he was president of his own furniture company, the G.S. Stewart Co. It was the largest employer in Norwalk at that time. The company was listed in the 1907-08 city directory as manufacturers of furniture and lumber. It made cedar chests in several styles and in different woods. The company was still in business in the 1970s. It's not known when the company closed. G.S. Steward cedar chests in good condition have sold for $150 to $325.

TIP: Wash art glass in lukewarm water with a little softening agent and some mild dishwashing soap.

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