SMART COLLECTOR

In collecting, demand equals value

Posted July 08, 2011, at 7:46 p.m.
This Greek vase dating from 570 B.C. is a krater with columns at the handles. It sold for $74,500 last month at Christie’s New York.
Courtesy of www.christies.com
This Greek vase dating from 570 B.C. is a krater with columns at the handles. It sold for $74,500 last month at Christie’s New York.

Q: My question is about old Greek pottery. I think this vase came during or after WWII. How do I find a website that will tell me more about it?

A: Along with the query, our reader sent the image of a 9-inch-high vase. Another shows bottom marks. One smart collector, he propped a ruler inside the vase to show how tall it was.

The reader calls his vase “old.” But Greek pottery dates back to ancient times. So how old is really old becomes relevant.

To ID, smart collectors look for clues. Starting at the bottom of this vase, marks tell most of the story. A stamp reads, “Hand Made in Greece.” Another is the maker or importer’s mark. And hand lettering reads, “Preparation for War, Painted about 400 B.C.”

All those marks point to the vase as a recent copy, especially the title. Authentic old Greek pottery does not explain itself. And, from the view we received, the important-sounding title in no way matches the vase art.

With a culture as ancient as Greece, even copies from the late 1800s are recent — and I’m not saying that this vase dates from that period.

The vase is a mix of themes and styles. It has a generic Greek-like shape vaguely like an amphora (a vase used for storage). But there are raised handles like a krater (a vase used for mixing wine with water).

Decorations include Greek key accents and simple crosshatching on the handles. The surface is decorated with stylistic modern versions of palmettes, an ancient form.

In short, everything about the vase is calculated to give the idea of ancient Greek pottery. Too off the mark to be a purposeful fake or reproduction, it is not intended to deceive.

The vase is a decorative piece, pure and simple. Dating from WWII does not make it old or valuable. Value is as a decorative object, well under $100.

To see more new versions of the old form, key Greek pottery oneBay. Many listed have similar decoration. Next, Google ancient Greek pottery to learn about the complexity of the real thing.

Q: I don’t think my question is of general interest, but I wonder if my Monarch canning jar is rare. I cannot find it in any antiques price guide. Does that mean it has no value?

A: The question is of general interest because many readers face the same dilemma when they research.

An item rates mention in a price guide when it is a recognized collectible. Some items simply lack numbers (there’s such a thing as being too rare) or interest. Because value is driven by demand, someone has to want that canning jar or similar item. Other positives are recognition as a good example or being the best of its kind.

Mason is the name most associated with canning jars. But hundreds of firms, including Monarch, also made the jars. Makers are listed on brandnamecooking.com. Look under “kitchen tools.”

Less than a handful of canning jars go for serious money. EBay lists Mason jars, but we found no postings for Monarch. I’m afraid the demand just isn’t there. Value may not be nil, but it won’t be much, either.

Q: I have special press invites to the openings of special areas in Walt Disney World. How do I determine value?

A: As in the previous answer, someone has to want those invites. Your target buyer is probably a Disney collector. How much they will pay is anybody’s guess.

If the invites can be linked to a celebrity, Disney figurehead or widely known press figure, that helps value. If they are standard mass mailings, interest is less.

To sell, I suggest you list them on eBay at a reserve you can live with. You’ll reach a world of motivated collectors.

The Big Get

Christie’s has announced that they will sell the collection of Elizabeth Taylor this coming December. The late star’s jewelry, fashion, art and memorabilia will tour Moscow, Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris and more before selling in New York.

Auction Action

A Corinthian black-figured krater from 570 B.C.brought $74,500 in a recent Antiquities sale at Christies New York. Standing almost 12 inches high, the vase had columns supporting the handles and was decorated with horsemen, panthers, a lion, goats and a sphinx.

Collector Quiz

Which of these qualities is NOT characteristic of vintage folk art fishing lures?

a. Handmade

b. Always pre-1950s

c. Not academically perfect

d. Use artistic license

A: The answer is b. Some vintage folk art lures date to the 1960s. Source: “Vintage Folk Art Fishing Lures and Tackle” by Jeff Kieny(Schiffer, $49.99).

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.

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