SMART COLLECTOR

Pottery marks can vary widely, even for same maker

Posted March 23, 2012, at 11:38 a.m.
The 1958 Mickey Mantle New York Yankees game-used flannel road jersey brought $114,000 in a recent Grey Flannel auction.
Courtesy photo
The 1958 Mickey Mantle New York Yankees game-used flannel road jersey brought $114,000 in a recent Grey Flannel auction.

Q: I bought a white pitcher that I thought was made by the C.C. Thompson Pottery Co. But the mark on the bottom differs from their standard mark. Can you verify my mark?

A: To clue readers, C.C. Thompson was one of the clustered Ohio River potteries. The company operated from 1868 to 1938.

Our reader is concerned because the shield with unicorn and lion mark shows a banner with only one leg. A known mark has four legs, so he wonders if his piece is legit. A more commonly seen C.C. Thompson mark features a winged lion with raised paw. And there are more: A 1980s reference lists 25 C.C. Thompson marks.

When marks are problematic or missing, a smart collector begins the process of IDing with the pottery shape. Seen in an image sent, this piece is too large to be a pitcher. It is a ewer, most likely part of a toilet set that originally included a large bowl, a waste jug, soap dishes and other pieces. Sets were made for home or hotel use. And the CCTPC made many.

Sarah Webster Vodrey, director of The Museum of Ceramics in East Liverpool, Ohio, themuseumofceramics.org, told us the museum has several dozen pieces of CCTPC pottery. She IDed the mark as an early stamp and pronounced it authentic.

“Sydney” in cursive letters below the shield was not a common Ohio River mark, but, Vodrey confirmed that it was used in CCTPC marks. In this case, she surmised, it may have been the name given to the toiletware set.

“Sometimes marks have variants,” she added. We can’t get into the heads of long-ago makers, but the absence (or additions) of legs may indicate a date, or which building fired the piece, or a host of variables. Another possibility is that a leg (or more) was smudged before the stamp was fired, and was lost that way.

In any case, record keeping then was erratic. Plus, most records have been lost in pottery fires — an occupational hazard.

“It’s a bit like Christmas when a new mark comes to light,” she said of the reader’s stamp. “There is always something new to learn on this job.” Same with smart collectors; always learning!

Like many museum directors, Vodrey has had to deal with funding cuts. To help, see the museum website.

Vodrey welcomes donations of area pottery for the museum.

Q: What is value on my Texaco North Dakota tanker?

A: A dealer special from the early 1960s, the Wen-Mac plastic toy ship fits in the category of vintage toys.

As a vintage item, it often sells on eBay. When we looked, one was listed starting at $399.99. That’s wishful thinking. Completed sales on www.worthpoint.com told a different tale.

In 2008, when times were good, a near-mint version with original box sold on eBay for $305. A version with no box brought $89.95.

Happily, our reader still has the original box in super condition. Price outlook is even better if the booklet that accompanied the boat is intact.

Recent sales with box on eBay ran $99 for a never used version to $69.77 and $75. Booklets alone sold for about $10.

Correction

In an earlier column on Swiss fakes pocket watches, we added an extra “w” in the URL for the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. Correct address is www.nawcc.org. It’s a wonderfully informative site.

Auction action

A Mickey Mantle game-used New York Yankees flannel road jersey that sold for $114,000 recently at Grey Flannel Auctions was likely worn in the 1958 World Series. A dream prize for the serious collector, it has an inside collar strip reading “Mantle 1958,” a date-appropriate Wilson manufacturer’s tag with washing instructions, and the size “42″ imprinted on it. The jersey was originally sourced from a trainer who received the shirt from the club’s general manager.

Collector quiz

True or false? A 5-clawed dragon on Chinese art indicates that the item was made for, or based on a piece made for, the Emperor. Five claws were reserved for Imperial pieces.

A: False. Boatloads of art objects with 5-clawed dragons were made in the late 20th century expressly for Chinese and Western tourists who bought the false claim. Original Imperial pieces date before that time and are extremely rare and fine.

Source: “Miller’s Collectibles Handbook 2012-2013″ by Judith Miller with Mark Hill (Mitchell Beazley, $27.99). A color-photo price guide on over 4,000 better collectibles, with helpful notes for smart collectors.

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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