Hold the lemonade: Rare bone china jug, by Wedgwood, is worth $350-$500

THE CURIOUS COLLECTOR

December 26, 1993|By Lita and Sally Solis-Cohen | Lita and Sally Solis-Cohen,Contributing Writers Solis-Cohen Enterprises

Q: How rare and valuable is my 7 1/2 -inch-high ceramic jug marked underneath "Garfield Jug/Made By/J. Wedgwood & Son's/Etruria" along with several numbers? One side is decorated with a sepia portrait of President James A. Garfield, the other with an American eagle atop a red, white and blue shield flanked by American flags. Underneath its spout is another patriotic shield with crossed arrows surrounded by a wreath of red and blue flowers. I've checked several books on Wedgwood, but am unable to find anything similar. This jug never has been used, and I'd hate seeing it filled with lemonade if it's valuable.

A: Your rare bone china jug made circa 1881 by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, the famed English pottery, commemorates the assassination of Garfield, the 20th president of the United States. It's worth around $350 to $500, according to Wedgwood dealer Muriel Polikoff, of suburban Philadelphia.

During the last two decades of the 19th century, Wedgwood made several commemorative jugs for both the English and American markets. Ones commemorating the deaths of English Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1881) and English historian Thomas Carlyle (1881), as well as the 250th anniversary of Roger William's founding of Rhode Island (1886), are illustrated in "Wedgwood Ceramics 1846-1959," by Maureen Batkin (Richard Dennis Publishers, London, 1982), an important reference book for collectors. Also pictured is Wedgwood's most popular commemorative jug -- one honoring American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who died in 1882. Because there seem to be many more Longfellow jugs than others, Ms. Polikoff thinks they probably were sold on both sides of the Atlantic.

On Jan. 24, Christie's auction house New York will be offering the English pottery collection of Herbert and Sylvia Jacobs, including a very fine, small selection of early Wedgwood. For information call (212) 546-1000; to purchase a catalog call (718) 784-1480.

Q: I have an old, painted wooden farmyard scene, a toy that's been in my family for years. It includes two straw-roofed houses about 9 inches long, 7 1/2 inches high, as well as a larger building. There are 25 assorted animals, two men (one dressed for riding, the other for farm work), three farm women, feeding troughs, fencing and several trees. It all fits into a plain rectangular box with a sliding lid. I'm curious about its age and value, so I can pass it on to my children.

A: You have a fabulous toy farm scene, probably made in the 19th century in the Erzgebirge region of the old German kingdom of Saxony. It's unusual because of its large size and many animals, and worth at least $3,500 to $5,500 in good condition, according to Olsen's Antiques, P.O. Box 8232, Radnor, Pa. 19087, (215) 688-4919.

Sets like yours, generally referred to as "Nuremberg toys" because American importers bought them from sales agents in Nuremberg, Germany, were among the earliest commercial toys sold in the United States. Typically they came in bentwood oval boxes; however, a few like yours had rectangular boxes. By the late 19th century in America, it was popular to display Nuremberg sets under Christmas trees. After the holiday, generally they were boxed, stored away, and not played with until next Christmas, so they've survived in very good condition.

Olsen's experts, who specialize in hard-to-find early Nuremberg toys, said that a farm similar to yours is illustrated on page 67 in "The Toy Sample Book of Waldkirchen" (Hastings House, 1978), a limited edition reprint of an 1850 salesman's catalog in the collection of Museum for Folk Art in Dresden, Germany. Waldkirchen was one of many Erzgebirge towns where toy-making thrived as a cottage industry for over a century.

Q: I have an original-condition glass washboard in a wooden frame, marked "Atlantic" "no. 510," and "National Washboard Co." What's it worth and where can I sell it?

A: National Washboard Co., the nation's most prolific manufacturer of washboards, made your clear glass "Atlantic" model during World War I when metal was scarce. Still a common model, it's worth about $20, according to Hattie Bremseth, author of "Washboards: Identification and Values," $10 postpaid for two volumes, from Mrs. Bremseth, P.O. Box 366, Grand Meadow, Minn. 55936.

To make your glass washboard easier to sell, Mrs. Bremseth suggests carefully using bathroom cleaner to remove any soap scum. You may wish to advertise it for sale in Kitchen Antiques and Collectibles News, a bimonthly newsletter for collectors of kitchen, household and gardening gadgets. It costs $4 for a sample copy, $24 for six issues, from Dana and Darlene DeMore, 4645 Laurel Ridge Drive, Harrisburg, Pa. 17110. A subscription includes membership in "KOOKS," a club for "Kollectors Of Old Kitchen Stuff."

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