Welcome to the second installation of Emyl Jenkins’ Algonquin appraisals. The author of the Sterling Glass mysteries, The Big Steal and Stealing with Style, gives us the lowdown on our office treasures. Want in on the action? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to submit your own antique for appraisal on our blog.
Algonquin: Do you know anything about this enamel and pearl clover pin that belonged to my great-grandmother? I’d like to know more about its history and its worth.
Emyl: During the 19th century, people loved to attach meaning and symbolism to everything from flowers (you may be familiar with the language of flowers) to the jewelry they wore. Pins, both brooches for ladies and stickpins for gentlemen, were often made of good luck symbols, including horseshoes, wishbones, and the ever popular four-leaf clover. Unfortunately, oftentimes the enamel on clover pins has been chipped or totally lost from the leaves, and from the picture I can’t tell if there is a tiny chip or a reflection on one of the top leaves. But in perfect condition, attractive later Victorian pins like yours, usually bear a price tag in the $125.00 range in antiques shops and malls.
Algonquin: I have a set of eight books titled The Library of Choice Literature, published by Gebbie & Co. of Philadelphia back in 1882. Can you tell me anything about the series or what the set might be worth?
Emyl: Your set was a very popular compilation of poetry and prose written by the world’s favorite and most admired writers from ancient to (then) contemporary times. In addition to stories and poems, the selections include political, historical, and travel accounts, and the set was reissued in later editions. Of course condition is important and usually complete sets, depending on the edition, range from around $150 to as much as $500.
Like many books where the copyright has expired, these volumes are available for a free download over the Internet (www.archive.org/details/librarychoiceli11gibbgoog). But this is a handsome set, and the numerous black and white steel engravings included with the text are most attractive.
Algonquin: These topaz earrings belonged to my great-great-grandmother. Can you tell me anything about them and what they might be worth today?
Emyl: From the picture it would appear that the setting of your earrings is original, but they probably have new posts or wires. Though this isn’t at all unusual for earrings of this age, serious collectors always prefer that each piece be as originally made and designed.
To know the true value of your earrings, a jeweler needs to determine if the setting is sterling silver or white gold. Also, there are numerous grades of topaz, and topaz can be treated to become various colors. I wish I could be more help, but it takes a jewelry expert to determine this information. Regardless of their monetary value, the earrings are most attractive and their sentimental value makes them all the more special.
Algonquin: This tiny teacup and saucer is one of a set of four. It’s thin porcelain and has a floral design with gold edging. The bottoms are stamped “Made in Occupied Japan.” What can you tell me about porcelain made during this time?
Emyl: Your charming teacup and saucer is very characteristic of the china tea sets made in Japan to be shipped, like its tea, to Western countries. The mark, “Made in Occupied Japan,” narrows its years of manufacture to the period from immediately following the end of World War II up to April 18, 1952, when the American occupation ended.
All sorts of wares–tea sets, figurines, vases, toys, holiday ornaments and decorations, plus a wide range of textiles–were made for export during this era. In fact, because so many “Made in Occupied Japan” items were made in such quantity, though collectible, they aren’t terribly expensive today. I imagine your cup and saucer might actually be demitasse-size, and the value for such sets of four is generally in the $25-50.00 range.