June 22, 2018
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Metal squirrel most likely a bookend

Courtesy of www.bonhams.com | BDN
Courtesy of www.bonhams.com | BDN
This carousel animal, a mythical hippocamp, was carved by Carl Muller. It sold for $50,000 last month at Bonhams Los Angeles.
By Danielle Arnet, Tribune Media Services

Q: I’m hoping you can identify the artist who made my bronze squirrel. I’ve included images of the signature. Any info?

A: Without details on size, my first thought is that the reader’s brown metal squirrel is some sort of desk top ornament.

The stamp is probably that of the maker or marketer instead of the artist. In images sent, deciphering the name next to a copyright stamp is impossible. The stamping is barely legible as it is impressed into an already rough surface.

Most likely, the object was created as a bookend. We’re thinking that way because of scale, plus an image of the bottom shows that Plaster of Paris was poured into a metal shell. That’s how many bookends were made; the plaster was a way of weighting figural ends.

From photos of the piece, I think it is not bronze, but electroplated. In short, the brown metal is plating over a base of common gray metal.

At some point, the squirrel probably had a base or at least a layer of felt to cover the plaster surface.

Enjoy your squirrel as a decorative piece.

FYI: For decades, the most used reference on bookends has been Louis Kuritzky’s book featuring hundreds of color photos arranged by subject. “Book Ends: Objects of Art and Fashion” by Robert and Donna Seecof (Schiffer, $39.99) is new and covers 350 examples from several private collections, arranged by style and date.

Q: Are my fly rods from the 1930s worth anything? They are a Horrocks and Ibbotson rod and a Pequea Tribe Genuine Tonkin.

A: Value depends on rarity, quality and condition. Vintage rods that were premium when new retain value. Standard store rods do not. Condition is also vital.

To research value on common items such as these rods, start with eBay. Look for pieces similar to yours. Next, pay for short-term use of worthpoint.com, a prices database that carries eBay results.

We found H and I rods from the ’30s that sold for $19.99 to $119.99. Right there is a perfect example of common to high-end rod results. The second rod hovered around $120.

Q: What is this? It looks like lead, and it’s very thin. Does it have value?

A: Seen in an image, the object is a stamped white metal plaque with a raised image of a church or public building. A crown tops the top arch.

The piece seems to have come from an old cast iron heating stove. Intended as decoration, it was fixed on, most likely the front, with bolts in the three holes.

Note rust on the plaque. Try a magnet on it. If not cast iron, it is an iron alloy. Lead is a heavy metal and old lead pieces sag with age.

Value is as a decorative piece, under $50.

BOOK IT! Put “Charles Faudree Home” on your coffee table and guests will know that you’ve Arrived, with a capital A. The oversized decor book by the celebrated designer (who lives in Tulsa) shows his Country French touch. In addition, guest designers share their specialties such as libraries and clubrooms, dining rooms, outdoor spaces, bedrooms, baths and more. A section on collections is stunning. Photos provide ideas; personalized texts give tips on how to achieve the looks.

Auction Action: When one of only three hippocamp carousel figures created by a celebrated carver came up for sale at Bonhams Los Angeles last month, collectors snapped to. Originally on a Pennsylvania carousel, the horse of the sea creature from Greek myth measures almost 70-inches wide by about 55-inches high. Made in 1905 by Daniel Carl Muller, it sold for $50,000. Conservation, done in 1989 by a noted restoration artist, involved removing 16 layers of old park paint to reveal the original paint. Original paint on old carousel animals is exceedingly rare.

Collector quiz

Q: Matchbox die-cast vehicles are collector favorites. 1) When did the first Lesney toys appear? 2) When was “Matchbox” registered? 3) When did they first appear in the U.S.? Can you ID the years: 1964, 1953, 1948, 1954?

A: Answers are 1-1948, 2-1953, 3-1954. Source: “Lesney’s Matchbox Toys: Regular Wheel Years, 1947-1969: 3rd Ed.” by Charlie Mack (Schiffer, $19.99).

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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