Going for more than a song

THE CURIOUS COLLECTOR

March 21, 1993|By Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen | Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen,Contributing Writers Solis-Cohen Enterprises

Q: I was left one of a pair of Oriental metal vases which have been in our family for over 70 years. Someone put a sticker on its bottom saying "Song Dynasty." The vase has inscribed decoration on its neck and sides and its two handles are in the form of dragon heads. How much is this artifact worth?

A: Your cast bronze vase likely was made in China between the 12th and 14th centuries, near the end of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). There's a similar one in the collection of London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Despite its age and appealing form, your vase is a late revival piece in the history of Chinese bronze vessels, which begins in the second millennium B.C., commented Oriental art dealer James J. Lally of J. J. Lally & Co., 41 East 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10022; (212) 371-3380. $l Assuming it's in good condition, without repairs or visible damage, it could retail for $800 to $1,200, he said.

Although your relative had owned two of these vases, the pair together wouldn't be worth more than twice the price of one vase alone. "Collectors generally don't pay a premium for pairs of Chinese bronze vessels, and, because collectors don't seek out pairs, auction houses generally sell them as individual lots," according to Mr. Lally.

Q: Is the ticket stub and program I saved from Yankee Stadium when Don Larsen pitched his perfect game in the 1956 World Series worth anything?

A: Michael Puzzo of Leland's, sports memorabilia auctioneers (245 Fifth Ave., Suite 902, New York, N.Y. 10016; [212] 545-0800), estimates your ticket stub and program are worth $300 to $400 each if they're well-preserved. With Mr. Larsen's autograph, the price could double.

Since it's the time of the year when baseball action moves from memorabilia shows to the diamond, here are some off-season results. There were hits but no home runs at Leland's Feb. 20th auction. Fans paid high prices for rare items in top condition, although a number of key lots came up short against aggressive estimates.

The sale's top lot was the jersey Lou Gehrig wore during a 1931 tour of Japan by American baseball stars: It brought $110,000 (estimated at $125,000 to $150,000). The runner-up was the six-page, typed legal document dated Dec. 26, 1919, under which the Boston American League Baseball Club sold for $100,000 the contract of "player George H. Ruth" to its rival, the American League Baseball Club of New York. Ironically, this history-making agreement fetched $99,000, just $1,000 short of the Babe's own price. Estimated at $25,000 to $35,000, it lacked Ruth's autograph, but was signed by Boston Red Sox president Harry Frazee and New York Yankees owner Jacob Rupert.

A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Rookie 311 baseball card in near-mint condition fetched $23,650, under its $25,000 to $30,000 estimate. A non-working repeater pocket watch presented to Ty Cobb in 1907 chimed in at $55,000, above its $20,000 to $30,000 estimate.

At the same sale, an 1880s catcher's mitt sold for $1,980 (estimated at $1,500 to $1,800).

The auction house owned several items from the collection of Karolyn Rose, Pete Rose's ex-wife. It sold the now-banned player's 3,000th-hit ball dated May 5, 1978, for $13,750 (against a $15,000 to $18,000 estimate) and his 1975 World Series "Most Valuable Player" ring for $12,100 (estimated at $15,000 to $20,000).

Have a question about an antique or collectible? Write to the Solis-Cohens, P.O. Box 304, Flourtown, Pa. 19031-0304, enclosing a clear photo of the whole object and all marks, and noting its size. If you want your photo returned, include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Personal replies are not possible, but questions of general interest will be answered in

this column.

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