Trash or Treasure?

Trash or Treasure?


An estate sale find and a soft bobcat market

Col—Waterman1Q. I like to go to yard sales and estate sales. I have no clue if what I found is trash or treasure. I believe the porcelain bowl and pitcher came from a family in Duxbury, Massachusetts in 1930. There are a couple of small chips and a small crack.

A. Your bowl and pitcher are most likely from the mid to late 1800’s. The designs were transfer printed and this type of porcelain wares are referred to as “transfer ware.” Transfer ware includes many types of ceramics. This is a decorative technique, done with an engraved copper plate, which had its origins in mid 18th century England, particularly Staffordshire. In the 1800’s, the engraving alone may have taken up to six weeks to complete. The copper plate would then be warmed, and a mixture of metallic oxide mixed with ink would be rubbed into all of the grooves of the pattern. All the excess ink would be wiped away, then tissue paper which had been soaked in a soapy solution would be laid on the copper plate. The tissue paper would be pulled off of the copper plate and pressed carefully on the pottery. Removing the tissue paper would leave the image on the pottery, which would then be sent to the kiln. I looked at the markings you provided and could not say for sure, what company produced your bowl and pitcher. However, most found were in the $50 range.

Col—Waterman2Q. I have a 1970’s Limited Edition Boehm sculpture of bobcats (that I originally paid $1800 for and gave to my parents as a gift). I would like to sell it, but my efforts thus far have been futile. It seems like nobody collects these anymore. Is it worthless? Do you have any ideas for how I might sell it? It is lovely, but not something I really want to keep.

A. The collectibles market (as well as the overall antiques market) has been very soft in the last few years. Edward Boehm studied sculpture for a time but taught himself the process of porcelain making. In 1949 he developed a formula for hard-paste porcelain. He started a dinnerware factory but expanded his offerings to include elaborate figurines, exotic birds being his most famous. Boehm passed away in 1969 but the company is still producing the figurines. Others found were selling in the $350-$400 range. Options to sell are consignment shops, dealers who specialize in collectibles or auction houses.

Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions about 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 [email protected]. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Attn. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.