After 20 years of weekly newspaper columns, it's time for some new challenges


January 30, 1994|By Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen | Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen,Contributing Writers

Dear Readers: After nearly 20 years of writing weekly newspaper columns about antiques and collecting, this is my last. It's time to move on. I have thoroughly enjoyed producing these columns and value the friendships I have made in the process with readers, editors, collectors and authorities nationwide.

Nothing lasts forever, and this seems like a good time to concentrate on other challenges and activities. I will be devoting my energies to my full-time job as senior editor of the Maine Antique Digest, a monthly magazine covering the Americana trade, writing and lecturing about Americana, and enjoying my vegetable garden and my two wonderful young grandchildren, who already are collectors.

For the last two years these columns have been a family affair, with my daughter Sally and her husband, Peter, contributing to their continued success. They, too, are moving on to exciting new undertakings. Antiques and collecting are an important part of our family's life, and I am glad we have had the chance to share our interests with you, just as you have shared yours with us. Thank you for the pleasure and all best wishes.

Q: I know my 11-inch oval blue and white serving dish is old, buI'm not sure whether it's English or American, and I don't recognize the river scene with a large domed church in the background of the central decoration. What does it depict, how old is it and what's it worth?

A: Your open vegetable dish made by Enoch Wood & Sons, circa 1825 to 1835 in the pottery town of Burslem, in England's Staffordshire region, is from a well-known series of views of London on pottery. Yours depicts the River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral in the background. If in perfect condition, it's worth around $325 to $425, according to English pottery dealer William Kurau, P.O. Box 457, Lampeter, Pa. 17537.

A similar dish with a transfer-printed blue view of the Bank of England and the distinctive border of fruiting grapevine coming right up to the ornate oblong frame around the view is illustrated in "Staffordshire Blue," by W. L. Little (Crown, 1969), a standard reference you may be able to find in the library.

Enoch Wood & Sons developed an American trade in transfer-printed "Blue Staffordshire" in the early 19th century and other firms followed. These wares have been popular collectibles for more than a century. American views generally bring more than English ones. A large collection of Blue Staffordshire plates, and rarer forms such as tureens with ladles, egg strainers, sauce boats and pitchers, most with American views, was offered yesterday at Sotheby's auction in New York of antiques from the collection of the late Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, well-known Massachusetts collectors of Americana.

Q: I've had a hard rubber Charlie Brown doll since the early 1960s. He's about 9 inches tall, and is wearing a painted-on red shirt with a black zigzag pattern and short black pants. Embossed on the bottom of his right foot is "(c) United Feature Syndicate." Is this Peanuts figure valuable?

A: Your Charlie Brown doll, an icon of American pop culture, was made circa 1958 by Hungerford Plastic Corp., of Morristown, N.J., and is worth around $40 in good condition, according to auctioneer Ted Hake of Hake's Americana and Collectibles in York, Pa., author of "Hake's Guide to Comic Character Collectibles: An Illustrated Price Guide to 100 years of Comic Strip Characters," (Wallace-Homestead, $17.95).

Hungerford's set of dolls based on the comic strip characters created by Charles M. Schulz, which began syndication under the name "Peanuts" in 1952, also includes Lucy, Pigpen, Sally, Snoopy, and Linus with his blanket. Schroeder, in a red sleeper, with a separate white piano topped by a bust of Beethoven, is considered the rarest and most valuable. About 1,000 collectors belong to the Peanuts Collector Club, which publishes a quarterly newsletter. For membership and subscription information,contact founder and editor Andrea Podley, 539 Sudden Valley, Bellingham, Wash. 98226.

Q: My brother owns some supposedly authentic American Indian beadwork, which he believes may be valuable. The large pouch has a geometric beaded design and two beaded tassels. He also has two breaded straps which don't match each other. Was this all one item originally and could it really be worth anything?

A: The large pouch and straps, which need to be rejoined, are a late 19th-century beaded "bandoleer bag," made in the Great Lakes area, according to American Indian Arts dealer Marcy Burns, P.O. Box 181, Glenside, Pa. 19038, (215) 576-1559.

Depending on its condition (which from your picture looks to be very good), Ms. Burns says the beadwork probably could retail for about $3,000 to $3,500.

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