Q. My great uncle collected shaving mugs. Some have pictures of cars on them; some just have names elaborately painted on them. Markings on the bottoms include “Felda China Germany,” Royal China International and T &V Limoges. Could you tell me anything about them and what they may be worth?
A. Shaving mugs, made in the United States in the mid 1800’s, are at the top of the list for those who collect vintage barbershop collectibles. Most men had one at home or had their own personal mug at their barbershop because men thought they would get rashes from shared mugs — not realizing the rash was from unsanitary razors. Personalized shaving mugs became a status symbol and the number of mugs a barber had on his display shelf represented the number of loyal customers he had. Between 1870 and 1920, millions of mugs were manufactured.
Because of the large number made, a majority of them are not that valuable. Collectors look for hand painted occupational mugs — those that depict unusual occupations and have well-done decorative painting fetch the highest prices. Some have sold for over $1,000, though the majority sell in the $75 and under range.
Your mugs date from the early 1900’s to the 1930’s.
Q. I have a vintage Tiffany sterling barbell baby rattle and feeding fork; no personal engravings. Aside from eBay, what can do I do with them? Would a local jeweler buy them like they do gold? I would rather not store them in a cupboard and let my kids deal with them decades from now!
A. Sterling silver rattles, spoons and forks are still very popular gifts for new parents. In the secondary market yours would do better than most as yours are not monogrammed. Consigning them at a consignment shop which has similar objects or silver makes the most sense. There are also large companies that buy and sell antique silver flatware and other silver objects. Try Replacements.com and Antique Cupboard (antiquecupboard.com). You can check their websites to see what they are selling for. Know that this is not what you will get if you sell them but their pricing will help you to get an idea of what they sell for.
Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter of email with a question, your give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Att. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.