One of the appealing things about collecting old objects is the knowledge that what you hold in your hand or hang on your wall is often one of a kind, made for a time and purpose that no longer exist. In a fast-moving world, these objects, once so trendy and of-the-moment, are real reminders of the truth of that Persian adage, famously quoted by Abraham Lincoln: “This too shall pass.”
Historic gallery sign
Q. I am in possession of a large carved wooden sign that reportedly hung outside the temporary location of the design firm and art galleries of Vickery, Atkins and Torrey following the San Francisco fire and earthquake of 1906. It has been in our family for many years, and I am researching an approximate value of the piece as I decide what to ultimately do with it.
The gallery of Vickery, Atkins and Torrey was instrumental in introducing important European Impressionist painters to California, and also represented prominent European, American and Japanese printmakers, photographers and sculptors. In addition, they were known for high-end interior design and were publishers of art books. During the fire, the contents were safely removed and the gallery was dynamited to stop the fire from spreading. Many of the contents were removed to Portland and Oakland, California. The sign measures 74.5 inches long, 28 inches tall at its highest spot, and 4.5-6 inches wide. It appears to be hand-carved and lettered and is painted in metallic gold. Holes have been drilled through the wood top to bottom for hanging. Thank you for any help you can provide.
— D.H., Beaverton
A. This wonderful sign for the Vickery, Atkins and Torrey Interior Design Firm and Art Gallery dates to circa 1900–1907. It’s a unique sign, and signs for art galleries rarely come up for sale, so it’s hard to have a good sense of what it might end up selling for at auction. However, $7,000-$10,000 would not be surprising. If this was offered in a gallery specializing in antique American architectural pieces, you might see it priced at $15,000-$25,000.
Q. I bought this old photograph inside an elaborate little album type case at an auction many years ago. It is 3.5 inches by 4 inches. Can you tell me anything about it?
— J.V., Salem
A. Your photograph is a daguerreotype, an example of the first commercially photographic process, and dates from the 1850s. Each image is unique, made on a heavy silver-plated copper sheet. Because they are quite fragile, most daguerrotypes were housed in some type of protective case, such as yours, which appears to be papier-mâché and leather. Depending on who the subject is, the value could vary significantly. Without identification, you might see this sell at auction for $100-$200. At retail in an antiques shop, the price tag might be $200-$350. However, if you could identify the subject, and he is someone of historical importance, the value would increase significantly.
Q. I inherited this vase from my aunt in 1993. There are no markings on the vase that I can see. It is 7.5 inches tall, and about 4.5 inches wide, approximately.
— J.B., S. Portland
A. We want to give thanks to Peter Held for helping identify this. Held is an appraiser specializing in modern and contemporary art and fine craft.
Your Roseville Pottery vase dates from the 1930s, and is in the Monticello pattern, which was introduced in 1931. The pattern was produced in both aqua and tan palettes, with the tan such as yours being more desirable. Roseville Pottery was founded in Roseville, Ohio, in 1890 as a producer of flower pots and ordinary household items. In 1895, they began expanding and were soon producing fine art pottery inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. Roseville closed in 1953. In 2017, The Kings Fortune company of Fishers, Indiana, acquired trademarks for Roseville and Roseville Pottery. Original pieces are quite collectible. At auction you might see a sale price of $200-$300 for this vase. A gallery specializing in art pottery might ask $350-$450, or more if it is in perfect, undamaged, condition.
Silver condiment ladle
Q. I collect silver pieces and have this little spoon or ladle. It measures just shy of 6 inches long. Can you tell me if it had a special purpose, and how old it is?
— S.S., Medford
A. Your ladle was likely used for condiments or salt, given its small size. It was made by the silversmith firm of Edward Mead and Edwin Adriance. The firm operated in Utica, New York from 1832-1835 and then moved to St. Louis, where they were active until 1942. The ladle probably dates to the later Missouri period. It is almost certainly coin silver, an alloy of 90% silver and 10% copper. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. At auction, this might sell for $25-$35. At retail in an antique shop, it might have a price tag of $50-$80.
Special Police badge
Q. This is my great grandfather’s police badge. It is 2.5 inches tall. Is it silver? Is it worth anything?
— P.C., Mount Hood
A. This badge probably dates to circa 1910–1920, and It appears to be nickel plated over brass. Special Police badges were worn by volunteer, auxiliary, or reserve officers rather than full-time police. If your badge had a location identified, it could bring significantly more. As a general badge, with no specific location notes, it might sell for $25-$35 at auction.
At retail, it might be priced at $40-$60.
About Today’s Collectibles
The values discussed for items featured in this column were researched by Portland appraiser Jerry l. Dobesh, ASA, an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers, with a specialty designation in Antiques & Decorative Arts. His services include providing appraisals for estate tax, charitable contribution, insurance scheduling and loss, and equitable distribution needs.
To find an appraiser, contact the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America. Estimates suggested in this Collectibles column are for general information purposes only and cannot be used as a basis for sale, insurance, or IRS purposes.
To have items considered for inclusion in future columns, please send us your high-quality images, preferably at least 300 dpi, 1Mb in size and in jpeg format. Photos must show each object in its entirety and must be clearly focused and well lighted to show detail. If there are any maker’s marks, please include an image of those. Include measurements and information about the condition of the piece.
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— Carolyn Patten, [email protected]