With its simple shapes, copper frame and red glass panels, it could look like a hanging sculpture in a modern abstract style. It is actually a late 19th century optician’s sign.
Antique signs, advertising and medical paraphernalia are popular collectibles. Some collectors seek them out for their historical significance or subject matter. Others see them as works of art. Signs that sell as folk art tend to fetch higher prices at auction.
This one sold for $1,625 at Cowan’s Auctions for more than double the estimated value! The buyer may have had an interest in optometry or simply liked the look of the piece.
Q: I’m sending you a photo of a pink serving bowl that belonged to my mother. I remember she used it on many happy occasions, and it is still in perfect condition. The bowl measures 12 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches high. It has an unusual base with leaf-like handles. There are no markings that I can see. Can you tell me who made it and if it has any value?
A: Your mother’s marbled pink bowl is the Tuscany pattern made by the Roseville Pottery Company in 1927. The markings were not printed directly on this pattern. A sticker has been placed on the bottom instead. Roseville Pottery was one of the largest manufacturers of American art pottery in the 1950s. Bowls and pedestal vases with this design have recently sold for between $75 and $115.
Q: My parents bought this Coca-Cola clock at an estate sale in California in the 1970s. It has always been in their basement and it still works. Can you tell me something about the clock and if it has a value?
A: Coca-Cola items are popular collectibles. “It gets better with Coke” was an advertising slogan that the Coca-Cola Company began using in 1963. It has become one of its most popular slogans. Your photos show this slogan and the red button embossed with “Drink Coca-Cola”. Plastic advertising wall clocks like yours were made in the 1960s. They recently sold for between $75 and $215.
Q: My husband and I were employees of the Borden Milk plant in Youngstown, Ohio in the 1970’s. We have an 8 ounce tumbler with the “Elsie the Cow” logo on the tumbler. The mug is white and the lettering is blue. We also have one 12 ounce drinking glass and eight 8 ounce glasses with the Elsie logo. Are they collectible? What are they worth?
A: Borden has been in business for over 160 years. Gail Borden and her partner started the business after Borden was granted a patent for his milk condensing process in 1856. The business was called the New York Condensed Milk Company until 1919 when it became the Borden Company. It was the largest dairy operator in the world in the late 1980s. Revenues plummeted in the 90s and the business was sold in 1995. It was resold in 2009 and the name became Borden Dairy. Elsie the cow first appeared in advertisements in 1936. Her image was also used on milk bottle caps. The first live cow nicknamed “Elsie” appeared in Borden’s exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair. She topped all other exhibits at the Fair. Elsie’s image has appeared on bottles, glasses, mugs, clocks, lamps, figurines, playing cards and many other items. Glasses and mugs sell for around $7 to $10. You’ll find mugs offered for sale at higher asking prices, but they often sell for $10 or less.
Q: It made me very happy when I found a picture of a Sevres urn in your Kovels Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide that sold for $1,750. I have a Sevres urn that looks like the one in the book, but the lid of mine has been repaired. The mark is difficult to read but appears to have an “A” in the center. How will this affect the value? I have an antique dealer who is interested in my urn.
A: It should also make you happy to know that the Sevres-style urn you saw in the Kovels’ 2020 price guide has also undergone restorations and alterations. Quality repairs and genuine brands will increase its value. Sèvres marks are among the most forged marks in antiquities, and many reproductions were made in the 19th century. Get a second opinion from someone other than the interested dealer. The dealer must make a profit and will pay you a percentage of what can be sold.
POINT. Do not drip-dry your glasses. The water evaporates and leaves minerals on the glass. Eventually, a film forms.
Write to Kim and Terry Kovel at King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.