Animal-shaped pitchers and jugs have been made for centuries.
English potters made jugs in the 16th century that were shaped like owls or bears. Cow-shaped creamers were popular by the 18th century.
English potters in Staffordshire made many types of animal figures. The most popular was the spaniel. This led to the creation of many spaniel-shaped pitchers in the last half of the 19th century.
Queen Victoria had a King Charles spaniel named Dash. Prints, woolwork pictures and Staffordshire pairs of dogs for the mantel soon became fashionable.
Potters also made pitchers shaped like dogs with hats on their heads. A dog could be white or beige, with reddish-brown or black spots. His "hat" was often decorated with flowers or leaves. The dog almost always wore a collar.
Spaniel pitchers were popular from about 1840 to 1900. Many copies were made after 1950. (This was when old Staffordshire figures came back into style.)
Nineteenth-century pitchers are hard to find and often cost $1,000 or more.
Q. I own a small wood-veneer furniture cabinet with a door on the front that opens to reveal five shelflike drawers. A red-and-white stamp is on the inside of the door. It reads "The Udell Works, Indianapolis, U.S.A." I also have 65 old player-piano rolls. They are all labeled "QRS Autograph Word Rolls." Was the cabinet made to store the piano rolls?
A. Udell Works was known during the 1920s as a manufacturer of cabinets for record players and records. A 1920s table-model record player could sit on top of a Udell Works cabinet, and records (either flat or cylindrical) could be stored in the drawers or on the shelves inside the cabinet. Even if your cabinet was originally made to hold records, you can use it to store music rolls for a player piano. QRS, by the way, is still in business. It is headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y.
Q. My fancy porcelain mantel clock belonged to my mother-in-law. A seal on the back reads "Royal Bonn, La Nord." A stamp near that mark is partly illegible, but I can read the letters "Mehle." The clockworks inside are marked "Ansonia Clock Co., Patented June 14, '81, New York, U.S.A." On the bottom, there's a sticker that reads "Montgomery Jewelers and Silversmiths, Los Angeles." Can you make sense of these marks? What is the clock worth?
A. The Ansonia Clock Co. worked from 1850 to 1929. Its factory operated in Ansonia, Conn., after 1854. By the late 1800s, Ansonia had an office in New York and was making high-quality clockworks for cabinetmakers and clockmakers around the world. The porcelain case of your clock was made by the Franz Anton Mehlem earthenware factory of Bonn, Germany, about 1904. Mehlem used the trade name "Royal Bonn" and gave various clock-case styles their own names. The style of yours is "La Nord," French for "The North." The jewelry store in California probably bought the clock from an importer, then sold the clock to a retail customer. Royal Bonn porcelain mantel clocks like yours sell for about $1,000 if the case is perfect and the clock works.
Q. I just found my father's old tooled leather belt with silver buckle and trim. It is stamped "Bohlin Made." What does that mean?
A. In 1918, Edward Bohlin joined a traveling show, where he did horseback riding and rope tricks. Tom Mix saw him perform in 1921 and bought the leather suitcase and the jacket that Bohlin was wearing. Bohlin soon moved from his home in Cody, Wyo., to Hollywood, where he made leather saddles and clothing for movies. Bohlin died in 1980. His company was sold, but it is still making the silver-trimmed leather pieces that have long been popular.
Q. I would like more information about my miniature wagon. It is red, white and silver, with four wheels and a 3-inch copper-colored handle. In the teardrop-shaped interior of the rocket-style wagon, there's a picture of a rocketship and the words "Flash Strat-o-Wagon."
A. Your tiny wagon was made in the 1930s by Wyandotte Toys of Wyandotte, Mich. The company was founded in 1921 and at first concentrated on making toy pistols. By the mid-1930s, Wyandotte became known for its streamlined, Art Deco-style steel cars and trucks. It also made airplanes, doll buggies, musical toys and wagons. If your wagon is in excellent condition, it could sell for $200.
Your collectibles will live best at the temperature and humidity that is comfortable for you. Not too hot, cold, wet or dry.
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