Cobalt-blue carnival-glass bowl could fetch $125 at auction

CURIOUS COLLECTOR

August 08, 1993|By Sally Solis-Cohen and Lita Solis-Cohen | Sally Solis-Cohen and Lita Solis-Cohen,Contributing Writers

Q: Who made my 8 1/2 -inch diameter "Peacock at the Urn" carnival-glass bowl? When it's held to the light, the center becomes a deep cobalt blue and the sides are iridescent. How much would a collector pay for it?

A: Your bowl by Fenton Art Glass Co., of Williamstown, W.Va., was made circa 1910 to 1920 and could bring around $125 to $150 at auction in good condition, according to carnival-glass expert LaVeta Woody, of Woody Auction Co., P.O. Box 618, Douglass, Kan. 67039, (316) 746-2694. Its strong color makes it desirable, she explained.

Exotic birds like peacocks were a popular theme on carnival glass. Fenton's competitors, including Northwood Glass Co. and Millersburg Glass Co., adapted this pattern for their own lines. A rare amethyst-colored 9-inch diameter Peacock at the Urn low bowl by Millersburg brought $3,500 at auction last May.

Carnival glass got its name because it was a popular and inexpensive prize at fairs during the 1920s and '30s. This mass-produced iridescent glass was designed to imitate costly Tiffany and Steuben art glass. Since much carnival glass was broken or discarded over the years, some pieces have become scarce and today bring premium prices.

Q: Is my mechanical elephant bank, measuring about 8 3/4 inches long by 5 1/2 inches high, collectible? When I raise and lower the elephant's tail, coins placed in the trunk are deposited into a seat on its back.

A: Your 1930s cast-iron bank by Hubley Manufacturing Co. of Lancaster, Pa., was one of its better-selling banks. Many were produced, and they remain common, so there's not much collector interest; besides, reproductions are on the market. Originals in excellent condition, with little or no wear to the painted howdah (seat) and blanket, usually cost around $250 each, says dealer Steven Weiss, 927 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10021, (212) 734-3262.

Q: A small ivory carving of an Oriental man holding a fish has been in our family for years. We've no idea of its origin or worth.

A: Your Japanese carving of a fisherman dates from around 1900. It's typical of circa 1890 to 1920 carvings mass-produced largely for tourists or export. Generally they were carved in sections from combinations of bone and ivory. Although decorative, these carvings aren't widely sought by collectors. Typically, they fetch under $75 each, according to Marvin Baer, of Ivory Tower Antiques, 38 Oak St., Ridgewood, N.J. 07450, (201) 670-6191.

Recent auction prices

Prices at Baltimore's Harris Auction Galleries (875 N. Howard St., [410] 728-7040) include any applicable buyer's premium:

* The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 20, 1863, issue reporting on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, good condition, $121.

* Sheet music, approximately 200 pieces, popular songs from the 1920s onward, condition varied, (sold with a metronome), $38.50.

* Dinnerware, Johnson Bros, 20th century, white with fluted border, 109 pieces (including 18 similar dinner plates by Adams), excellent condition, $165.

Solis-Cohen Enterprises

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