Q: Enclosed is a picture of my hand-painted Nippon vase; it is 11 inches tall and has an Egyptian design on the front. All I know about it is that it was a wedding present to my husband's parents in 1917. I would like to know anything you can tell me about it.
A: Your Nippon vase was made in Japan in about 1910 to 1915. It would probably sell for $365 to $385.
Q: I have some china with this mark on the back. Please identify the origin of my china.
A: This is not a maker's mark; it is the British Registry number. The "IV" at the top indicates that this is ceramic, the "B" stands for October, the "2" indicates the day of the month, the "T" is the year (1867) and the "1" is the parcel number.
The evaluation of old books is a rather complicated procedure. The most commonly recognized category is first editions by famous authors, like "Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. In some cases, later editions are collected for special reasons, such as illustrations by a famous artist or limited editions. In addition to books published many years ago, some contemporary authors, like Stephen King, are collectible.
In any event, whatever the book in question, one can refer to American Book Prices Current at the public library. This is a complete up-to-date record of all books commonly bought and sold.
Another category that is in demand is what is commonly referred to as "source books." These would include books about the Civil War written at the time of the Civil War or books about the gold rush written at the time of the gold rush.
To these we can add books that are not desirable for their text, but are illustrated by a famous artist, like John Wyeth.