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Published July 30, 2010, 08:27 AM

Wemyss Ware was the rage a century ago

Smiling pottery cats and flower-decorated pottery pigs have been made in Scotland since 1882. Today, both the old and new versions of these pieces are known as Wemyss (pronounced Weems) Ware.

By: By Terry Kovel, INFORUM

Smiling pottery cats and flower-decorated pottery pigs have been made in Scotland since 1882. Today, both the old and new versions of these pieces are known as Wemyss (pronounced Weems) Ware.

It was first made at the Fife Pottery in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Robert Heron, the owner of the pottery, hired some Bohemian craftsmen and designers who came up with new ideas about decorating pottery. The master painter was Karel Nekola. Large, colorful flowers, hearts and other symbols were hand-painted on figurines, inkstands, jardinieres, candlesticks, buttons, pots and even bedroom sets. The decoration for each piece was different.

At first, Wemyss Ware was sold only near the factory, but it soon was available in London. By 1900, it had become the rage. Nekola died in 1915, and another painter continued working in the same style. But in the 1930s, economics forced the Fife Pottery to close. Its molds and designs then went to a series of potteries and, in 1952, to Royal Doulton. The line was discontinued in 1957. But Wemyss reappeared in 1985, when the designs were again made by Griselda Hill Pottery of Ceres, Scotland. The name was registered as a trademark in 1994, and modern Wemyss Ware in old styles is still made.


Q: My 1939 solid-cherry bedroom set – dresser, chest and bedside table – is in excellent condition. I know the age because it’s been in my family since it was first purchased. It was made by King Factories of Mayville, N.Y. Is there a market for it, and what would it sell for?

A: The company that made your set was Kling Factories, not King. The furniture-manufacturing company was formed in 1911 by John A. Kling. It was sold in 1962 to Ethan Allen, which kept the line alive for years as its “Kling Colonial Group.” Three-piece Kling bedroom sets sell for $350 to $600.


Q: I recently came into possession of several hundred old family postcards dating from about 1885 to 1912. There are many varieties, including birthday and military cards, valentines, and Easter and Christmas greetings. Some of the Christmas postcards picture black Santas. Most are in color, and some have human hair or ribbon embellishments. Many were mailed from Canada to one of our family members. The postcards are all in good condition because they’ve been stored in a shoebox in a closet for years. Are people interested in old postcards?

A: There are plenty of collectors interested in old postcards – especially cards the age of yours – but sort through your shoebox before deciding on a strategy to sell them. First take out any that you would like to keep for your family-cards with messages that explain family history or cards that picture your relatives. Then go to your library and check out a book on old postcards. There you’ll find lists of publishers and artists whose postcards are more valuable than others. (Cards published by Raphael Tuck and cards with artwork by Howard Chandler Christy are especially valuable.) Pull those cards out, along with the black Santas, other holiday cards, patriotic cards and cards picturing early automobiles and airplanes. All of those are worth more than standard cards. Then you’ll have to decide if you want to sell only the most valuable cards or the whole collection. Many postcards sell for just 5 cents, but a few sell for more than $100. Several websites price postcards and give advice about selling.


Q: My mother left me a very modern-looking breakfast set for one – at least, I think that’s what it is. There’s a duck-shaped teapot, creamer, sugar, teacup and saucer, and a tray to hold everything. Maybe for breakfast in bed? The bottom is stamped with a Theodore Haviland mark and a script signature that has two initials and the name “Sandoy.” I love the set because the amusing ducks’ heads come off the serving pieces and all the pieces are bright yellow.

A: Edouard-Marcel Sandoz (not Sandoy) was an important designer. He was born in Switzerland in 1881 but worked in France most of his career. In 1916 he became a designer for Theodore Haviland and created hundreds of designs for figurines, tableware, trays, boxes, vases, inkwells and more. He designed many Art Deco animals that were used to decorate not only coffee and tea sets but also pitchers, vases and flower frogs. Sandoz created his famous duck-shaped coffee or tea sets in about 1916. They were decorated in yellow, blue, red or other bright colors. Sandoz died in 1971, but his designs are still popular. The duck set was reproduced in the 1970s. An original set sold recently for $3,200.


Tip

For a quick shine on a silver belt buckle or large pin, try rubbing it on a dark-colored carpet.


Current prices

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

- Billiard game tin windup toy, one man at each end, 1990s reproduction of 1940s toy, original 1940s box, 12 inches, $144.

- Kelva dresser box, pivoting mirror inside, pink wild roses on lid, surrounded by enamel beading, mottled avocado green, 2½-by-4½ inches, $175.

- “Drink Yuengling’s New Style Lager” sign, embossed tin, cream ground with black lettering, 1940s, 9½-by-27 inches, $260.

- Oak split basket, flattened and wrapped rim, concave bottom, hinged bentwood oak handle jointed at hinge, copper rivet, Virginia, 1930s, 19 inches, $355.

- Jack Dempsey fight souvenir button, spring pin, red, white and blue ribbon, suede boxing glove, image of Dempsey, 1926, 1¾ inches, $515.


For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s website, www.kovels.com

Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovel, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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