German pottery beer stein would sell for $50 to $75

THE CURIOUS COLLECTOR

January 16, 1994|By Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen | Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen,Contributing Writers Solis-Cohen Enterprises

Q: I brought back from Germany after World War II an unmarked pottery beer stein. It has relief decoration of white flowers on a rust-colored background, bands of German writing, and a colorful scene on the front. What's it worth?

A: Your German pottery stein with relief and transfer decoration, topped by a pewter "steeple" lid, dates from the early 20th century, and is worth around $50 to $75 in good condition, according to beer-stein authority Gary Kirsner of Gary Kirsner Auctions, P.O. Box 8807, Coral Springs, Fla. 33075, (305) 344-9856. Many German factories made this type of unmarked stein, often from the same molds. While yours can't be attributed to a specific maker, it's likely from the town of Hohr Grenzhausen, near Koblenz.

Although prices for common steins like yours haven't changed much in over a decade, rare 19th- and early 20th-century "Mettlach" ones by Villeroy & Boch, the "creme de la creme" of stein makers, have increased in value in recent years, according to Mr. Kirsner, who includes a broad range of beer steins and Mettlach wares in his live and mail auctions.

Among his sales this year are ones June 5, in Elizabeth, N.J., and Nov. 20, in Springfield, Mass. Mr. Kirsner's July 16 auction in New Orleans coincides with the Stein Collectors International Convention there. A $30 subscription to six of his illustrated catalogs includes post-sale results.

Q: My cat-shaped white ceramic cookie jar belonged to my grandmother. The cat has a red bow and white socks with blue trim, and its bottom is stamped "Patented Puss 'n Boots USA." Is it worth anything to collectors?

A: Your common 1940s to 1950s "Puss 'n Boots" cookie jar made by the Shawnee Pottery, in Zanesville, Ohio, is worth about $125 to $185 in good condition, and has crossover appeal to both cookie-jar collectors and cat collectors. If the cat's rose-colored bow had gold trim, it would be a rarer version, worth at least twice as much, while an even scarcer example, with gold-trimmed white bow, can fetch as much as $600, according to dealer Mercedes Di Renzo, at Jazz 'e Junque, 3831 Lincoln, Chicago, Ill. 60613. She advertises cookie jars in Cat Talk, the bimonthly newsletter of an organization called the Cat Collectors. For an annual subscription, send a check for $18 to its publisher and editor, Marilyn Dipboye, 33161 Wendy Drive, Sterling Heights, Mich. 48310, (313) 264-0285.

Your Shawnee cookie jar is listed in "A Collector's Guide to Shawnee Pottery," by Duane and Janice Vanderbilt, (Collector Books, $19.95), and "The Collector's Encyclopedia of Cookie Jars," by Fred Roerig and Joyce Herndon Roerig (Collector Books, $24.95).

Q: What's the age and value of my mint-condition deck of playing cards in a blue box impressed with the logo of the Southern Pacific Lines railroad? Each card's face pictures a different scene; one, for example, is San Francisco's Chinatown. The backs all feature a color picture of a streamlined train crossing a bridge with two farmers in a cotton field in the foreground.

A: Your 1930s deck of Southern Pacific Lines playing cards is worth about $20 because it's in excellent condition, according to "deck collector" Ray Hartz, P.O. Box 1002, Westerville, Ohio 43081, (614) 891-6296. He says these decks came with six different backs and are not rare. Serious deck collectors belong to a club called 52 Plus Joker, of which Mr. Hartz is president. Annual dues, $20, includes a subscription to the club's quarterly magazine, Clear the Decks. (Send checks to 52 Plus Joker, c/o Rhonda Hawes, Secretary, 204 Gorham Ave., Hamden, Conn. 06514.) The group's next meeting will be held in New Hope, Pa., to coincide with the May 20-21 auction of the collection of Leonard Schneir, author of "Gambling Collectibles: A Sure Winner," (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1993, $29.95). For information, contact Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd., P.O. Box 1001, Carversville, Pa. 18913, (215) 297-5109.

Q: I have a piece of linen 12 1/2 inches long by 10 1/2 inches wide, imprinted with a room scene including three black children sticking out their tongues for a puzzled black doctor wearing a frock coat. Their mother, wearing cap and apron, appears to be asking the doctor for a diagnosis. The printed border, resembling a picture frame, bears the title "The Medical Man" and the inscription: "Yes, Dis is a Clear Case of Difflomania." We've been unable to find out anything about this item. Is there a market for it?

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