"Tramp art" is a special name for groups of collectibles and antiques
What is “tramp art”? There is folk art, regional art, naive art, fine art and other very special names for groups of collectibles and antiques, but tramp art is probably the latest one to become popular. Tramp art has been made for many years, but the name was invented by a folk art author in 1959 to describe whittled objects made from old cigar boxes and other scrap wood. Although wooden cigar boxes were used to hold cigars since the 1850s, the idea of chip carving the wood into picture frames, bird cages, doll houses and more didn’t become a noticeable craft until about 1875 to the 1930s. What is still called tramp art was made not only by the “tramps” (hobos) of the past but also by prisoners, sailors and others, almost always men. Today we can use a cellphone to fill lonely hours, but in the past, whittling and other crafts were popular. At first collectors thought it was an American idea, but by the 1980s, antiques dealers were finding similar carved boxes in Europe, especially Germany, and bringing them back to sell at shows. Today tramp art, like graffiti, has been accepted as an art form. This 34-inch-wide architectural tramp art birdcage has five doors and other openings. It sold at a Skinner auction in Boston as part of a collection of tramp art for $615.
Q How do I sell three programs from the 1969 Woodstock festival that are in excellent condition, and what is the range of their value?
A The program is one of the few official souvenirs of the three-day music festival, which took place in a hayfield 40 miles from Woodstock, New York. No official Woodstock merchandise was sold at the event. The programs didn’t arrive until the last day, when there were no vendors to sell them, so they were thrown from the delivery truck, some in the boxes they came in. Not many survived in good condition because of the rain and the mud, or they were discarded and trampled on by the crowd. The program has been reproduced. The letter “f” in the title “3 days of peace & music” on the cover of the original program is slightly fuzzy because it’s in the bud of the sunflower. It’s clearer in the reproduction. The first and last pages of the original program are onionskin parchment. The reproduction pages are not as thin. Original Woodstock programs sell at auctions of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. Value of the right single program in good condition is about $200.
Q I’ve been holding onto a pair of candlesticks given to me more than 40 years ago, and I never use them. They’re not really my thing. Can you help with the marks? It has a “W” in a circle with three curved lines on either side. It also says “sterling cement reinforced.” Any pricing info would be great, too.
A Your candlesticks were made by Frank M. Whiting Co., of North Attleboro, Massachusetts. The company was in business from 1878 to 1940, when it became a division of Ellmore Silver Co. That company went out of business about 1960. Silver that is “cement reinforced” is also called “weighted” silver. The heavy base helps the candlestick stand up. One of the ways to value silver is to find the meltdown value by multiplying the current price of silver by the weight. The cement is heavy and makes judging silver value different. A weighted Whiting candlestick sold online for about $20.
Q My four cups and saucers are marked “AL-KA, Kunst, Kronach, Bavaria.” The number “412” is stamped in bold below the mark. Can you tell me the maker and possible age and value?
A This mark was used by Alka-Kunst, which started out as a small porcelain-decorating factory in Coburg, Bavaria, in 1872. The factory moved to Kronach in 1899. The name became Alka-Kunst in 1927. The factory moved to Staffelstein in 1952. The name became Kaiser Porzellan in 1970. The mark on your cups indicate they were made between 1927 and 1952, when the factory moved to Staffelstein, Bavaria. The company is still in business. The number “412” is the pattern number. A cup and saucer sells at retail for $15 to $45 depending on the pattern.
Q I have been signing into online auctions, but sometimes the vocabulary is strange. What does “pate de verre” mean? It is part of the description of a porcelain urn that I like.
A The words are French, meaning “paste of glass.” The artist ground up some glass and mixed it with a sticky binding material like organic gum. Then it was used to create the decoration on the glass piece. Color was often added to the mixture, so it could be any color pate de verre but it is always of a slightly different texture than a plain glass piece.
TIP: Do not dry-clean an old quilt. The chemicals will damage the fabric.