The word "unique" is often misused since it means one of a kind

Terry And Kim Kovel
Kovel’s Antiques And Collecting

“Unique” is a word that is often misused by collectors. It means one of a kind. There can never be a unique mass-produced chair but there can be a rare one. More than 20 years ago, the Kovels’ newspaper column wrote about a table with a top that was made to look like an American flag. In September, a similar table is being sold by Woody Auction. The Kovel table had 23 stars on the flag. Maine was the 23rd state, added in 1820. The table being sold at Woody has 35 stars, suggesting it was made to honor the statehood of West Virginia in 1863. The 35-star table was marked by the maker: “Made & Designed by F. Wedin, Roxbury.” Recent research by the auction gallery suggests he was a piano maker from Massachusetts. Both tables were made of solid wood with inlaid stars and stripes. The wavy edges of the 35-star table make it look windblown. It has a drawer with carvings of dueling pistols, side supports like anchors, cross braces like rifles, legs like cannons and cannonball feet. It is estimated at $20,00 to $40,000. It is truly unique.

Q When was the Blythe doll made? I understand it sells for very high prices today even though it is not very old.

A The first Blythe doll was made in 1972 by Kenner. She was designed by Allison Katzman as an unusual doll with an oversized head and strange big eyes that changed color by pulling a string. The company discontinued the doll that same year. Gina Garan never had a Blythe doll until she was a teenager, and then she bought many for about $15 each until she had nearly 200 to add to her large fashion doll collection. She found an old camera and started taking pictures of the doll that were made into a coffee table book called “This is Blythe” in 2000. The book sold over 100,000 copies. A Christmas commercial was made with the Blythe doll in Japan and then the doll was part of a snow globe. The doll was rediscovered. A different toy company made new versions of Blythe and “Neo” Blythe dolls were soon being resold in online auctions for higher prices. “Petite” Blythe dolls were also made, originally as keychains. Promotions include a yearly charity fashion show in Tokyo for which she is dressed by top designers. Pictures were used in Vogue magazine and many commercials. There have also been other books, photography exhibits and worldwide promotions. Original Blythe dolls made by Kenner in 1972 can sell for up to $2,000.

Q I have a Susie Cooper coffee and tea set that I’d like valued and sold. Can you help?

A Susie Cooper (1902-1995) was born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, England. She began working as a painter for A.E. Gray & Company in 1922 and became a designer in 1925. She left to work on her own as Susie Cooper Productions in 1929, decorating white ware bought from other potteries. In 1931, she moved her studio to Wood & Sons Crown Works. She bought Crown Works in 1959. Both earthenware and china were made. The Wedgwood Group bought the pottery in 1966. Wedgwood closed Crown Works in 1979 and Cooper moved her studio to Adams & Sons. In 1986, she moved to the Isle of Man and worked as a free-lance designer. Complete tea sets (coffeepot, teapot, sugar, creamer, and at least six cups and six saucers) sell for about $100 to $1,000 depending on the age and pattern. The early Deco sets sell for the highest prices.

Q My uncle gave me his old watch and helped me oil it. It says “Tommy Ticker” on the dial. At the bottom is “New Haven Clock Co. U.S.A.” It runs reasonably well. Can you tell me anything about this watch or the company?

A The New Haven Clock Co. was founded in 1853. It made clock movements for the Jerome Clock Co. It bought that company in 1856 and began making clocks. New Haven Clock Co. began making pocket watches and wristwatches in 1929. It went out of business in 1960. Your Tommy Ticker watch is a “dollar watch,” a simple, mass-produced watch that originally sold for one dollar. New Haven Clock Co. began making dollar watches in 1892. Several other companies also made them until the mid-1950s. The value of your watch today is about $10.

Q I picked up what I think is a Currier & Ives print from a thrift store. I’m just trying to see if the name of the print is a legitimate Currier & Ives print. It’s titled “A Mountain Home.” If the title matches a real print made by Currier & Ives, I’d like to know if it’s a reproduction. I bought it for $6, so even if it’s a reproduction, I wouldn’t care since I like the print.

A Currier & Ives was in business in New York City from 1857 to 1907 and is famous for its American lithograph prints. Reproductions and fakes have been made. “A Mountain Home” is not one of the prints listed in books that catalog the original Currier & Ives prints. It’s often offered for sale online, identified as a Currier & Ives print from 1890, but one seller probably got it right when he said it is “after Currier & Ives,” which means it was done in the style of the famous printmakers.

TIP: Permanent marker stains can be removed from most wood or textiles by wiping with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol.

This unusual, flag-topped table is handmade but not unique. Another almost identical table sold at an auction years ago. It had only 23 stars. This table has 35. Could there be others?