Q: This shell bowl has been in my husband’s family at least since the early 1900s. There’s no label or marks indicating its history. It would be so interesting to know something more about it. Can you help?
A: Seen in images sent, the glass bowl with a shell-like rim is a beautiful example of the glassblower’s art. Large and slightly free form, with fluted accents on three sides, it measures about 14 inches across at one point.
Remarkable for several reasons, it features cased glass, or glass in layers, so that another color is laid on a base color. In this case, the base is white, the overlay a mid-to-deep purple. Then acid etched, the effect is called satin glass.
As the bowl was made, a glass artisan pulled and crimped the heated glass, creating ripples and raised dimples. The result is varied depths of purple. The look is very pleasing.
Another plus are areas of raised yellow, hand-painted on the surface after the glass cooled. Done with enamel, the scrolled, dot and line embellishments add dimension and appeal. We also spot hand-painted tea roses and forget-me-nots. All are touches of quality.
A slightly raised round foot at the base is the giveaway to function. The bowl is an insert for a brides basket.
Smart collectors know that Victorian brides were customarily gifted with silver baskets having glass bowl inserts. Called brides baskets, they were the wedding gift of the time. The sets were bought at better department stores and from jewelers.
Most baskets were silver plate, and they came in all types of design and quality. Baskets, especially those with figural bases, such as stags, owls, cherubs and the like, are collected today.
Pairpoint and other plate manufacturers were common frame marks. Another, perhaps nearby glassmaker made the bowl insert.
Unfortunately, over time many baskets became separated from their bowls. The result is that fine examples that remain intact with their original basket sell for up to four figures at auction. Key brides baskets on liveauctioneers.com to see examples.
Broken or damaged baskets, unless remarkable, are a no sell. Orphan bowls and baskets do sell, especially if they are fine examples of their kind.
With so many loose bowls, quite a few owners are actively searching for an apt silver basket to house their bowl.
We tried to ID the glassmaker, but while the bowl is exceptional, the blank or shape does not fit any major maker of such bowls.
My thinking is that it was made by a highly skilled artisan around the 1880s-90s for insertion into a stock basket.
If our reader is inclined to hunt, she just may find a likely silver frame at an antiques show or market, auction or online. We found several offered on eBay.
Q: I would like to know the value of a claw-footed bathtub. It’s in good condition and could be refinished into a lovely piece.
A: What’s the first question a likely buyer would ask? My guess is, “Do you deliver?”
Unless you do — or sell cheap — you may have a problem. Hauling, refinishing costs, and finding fittings for a vintage tub can all be problematic.
Plus, there are vintage tubs and then there are vintage tubs. How big? What is the back like? How fine are the feet? How high? And so on. Add to that the fact buyers always have the option to buy a new replica and avoid a ton of headaches.
I think our reader should first Google vintage tubs and check out the competition. Key vintagetub.com for more info.
BOOK IT! “Atomic Ranch: Midcentury Interiors” by Michelle Brown (Gibbs Smith, $40) and “Mid-Century Modern: Living with Mid-Century Design” by Judith Miller (Miller’s/Mitchell Beazley, $39.99) are excellent new guides to 1950s and some 60s design. “Atomic” shows objects in eight ranch houses, including traditional and raised ranches. Here are furnishings and accessories on site — a great idea book. Miller’s book highlights objects and designers, from ceramics and furniture to glassware and textiles. A great reference.
Auction Action: A 1911 $20 PCGS proof 66-plus CAC, one of only 100 pieces ever to be minted and the only coin of its type graded proof 66-plus by either PCGS or NGC, sold for $143,750 in a recent Legend-Morphy Auction in Denver, Penn. Obviously, at least one collector felt that these days, gold is better than money in the bank.
Q: Can you match these mid-century designers or companies with their iconic objects?
1. Blenko a. Office furniture
2. Arne Jacobsen b. Murano glass
3. Ettore Sottsas c. Memphis design
4. Seguso Ventri d’Arte d. colored glass
5. Knoll e. egg chair
A: 1-d, 2-e, 3-c, 4-b, 5-a
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.