Copper red glaze a big plus for Japanese vase

Posted Aug. 26, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.
The two documented fragments from the “Star Spangled Banner” sold for $65,725 recently at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.
Image courtesy of www.ha.com
The two documented fragments from the “Star Spangled Banner” sold for $65,725 recently at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.

Q: In 1947, my parents arrived in Japan as newlyweds where my dad served on a base. They were greeted by a local who presented them with this vase as a welcoming gift. Any information?

A: Our reader adds that the ceramic vase stands about 10 ½ inches high and is 27 inches around.

Andrew Lick, director of Asian works of art at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago (lesliehindman.com), looked over images sent and identified the vase as indeed, Japanese. The decoration showing small boys at play is done in copper red, a glaze made with yes, copper.

“Copper red is an extremely temperamental material to work with,” he added. “It needs to be fired at exactly the right temperature or it fluxes to off colors such as green or gray.” Someone got this just right, as the color is perfect. The Japanese ideal is a soft red reminiscent of a ripe peach.

Describing the vase as a studio ceramics work, Lick thinks it was new when presented. Not old enough to have a sales track at auction, similar vases sell in galleries today for $500 to $1,000.

Q: Is my Carrier freezer worthless or is it sellable as vintage? It’s from the 1950s. Someone told us it was worth a lot to someone who refurbishes old appliances and that we should put it on eBay.

A: I’ll bet you that the individual who gave the free advice saw or read somewhere that old and certain vintage stoves are collected. It’s just a jump from there to a freezer.

But while ’50s qualifies the freezer as vintage, the simple fact is that freezers just don’t cut it as nostalgia. People get warm (pardon the pun) and fuzzy about stoves just like Grandma’s, and they may go for round top turquoise refrigerators, but freezers? No. At least not now. In the future, who knows?

We spotted four senior freezers, one turquoise, posted on eBay, but none sold. Worse, the reader writes that hers is filled with mold. You don’t want to be responsible for selling that unit. Ditch it, and do it properly.

Q: What is this? I know this “dish” is over 100 years old, as it came from Grandma’s house. There are no marks. Do I send this priceless thing to a thrift store or do I keep it because of value and tell my children, “you have a real heirloom”?

A: Images sent show a cast metal card tray in Art Nouveau style showing a semi-nude maiden draped in flowing fabric. She is seated on lily pads with her long hair cascading over her knees. The base is formed of more leaves with a lily bud. It seems to be well cast. I’d date the piece around 1900.

Go to liveauctioneers.com, and access auction results for Art Nouveau card trays. There you’ll find that the same tray in rough cast iron sold for $75.

But the reader’s tray looks to be solid brass or plated brass over base metal. At one time, the piece could have been cold painted as decoration.

It’s hard to tell from the images. If it is brass or even plated, value is higher. At retail, it could sell for $200 or more.

The reader raises several issues in his query. Is it a real heirloom only if it has serious value? Some would call it so simply because it came from Grandma’s house. And should only low value goods be donated to thrift stores? The call, on all counts, is his.

Q: How do I find value or get an appraisal of my original Chuck Oberstein painting? I inherited it and would like to at least insure it.

A: California artist Oberstein (1935-2002) is known for renditions of clowns. His work is not fine art and you’re not going to find him in any database of fine art sold at auction.

That said, his works are offered for sale on eBay; look through asking prices there. We also found one $2,000 auction result for a clown painting on liveauctioneers.com. A regular household policy should take care of insurance.

Auction Action: Two fragments from the “Star Spangled Banner,” the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., on Sept. 13, 1814, and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words to America’s national anthem, brought $65,725 recently at Heritage Auctions. The flag was brought home from the battle by the officer who commissioned it. In 1910, the family gave it to the Smithsonian. The sold fragments had been donated to another museum.

Collector Quiz

What was not a costume jewelry theme of the 1960s?

a. Flower pins

b. Chanel chains

c. Plastic bangle bracelets

d. Peace symbols

e. Scarab bracelets

f. Shoulder duster earrings

g. Circle pins

h. Large pendants

A: Answers are e. and g. They belong in the 1950s. Source: “Popular Jewelry of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s: 3rd Edition” by Roseann Ettinger (Schiffer, $29.99).

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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