Tiffany Studios is synonymous with luxury and decorative items like jewelry, useful pieces of precious metals and elaborate stained glass. The company also made practical items, such as its line of commercial desk accessories made from around 1890 to the 1930s.
Desk sets include items office workers probably won’t see today, like this rocking blotter in the Bookmark pattern. It sold for $161 at Cowan’s auction in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Tiffany Bookmark series featured early printers’ marks surrounded by panels of raised leaves and flowers. Around the turn of the century, office workers would have used a rocker blotter with a fountain pen and ink holder. Many people who wrote with a ballpoint pen smudged the ink. Fountain pen ink would have taken even longer to dry.
People accelerated the drying with a pinch of sand or powder and, later, by blotting it with special paper. This rocking blotter would have held sheets of blotting paper for use on documents written in ink.
Q: I have a wooden filing cabinet. It measures 38 inches tall and consists of a group of stackable cubes. The lid is separate and has an imprint which I believe says “Yawman and Fre… Rochester New York, USA”. It’s on the front of the lid. It had been in my parents’ house for many years, but I have no idea where it came from, probably from an auction.
A: Your oak filing cabinet was manufactured by Yawman & Erbe Mfg. Co. of Rochester, New York. Its offices and main factory were in Rochester, and they had branches in several American cities. In 1883, the company began manufacturing stackable filing cabinets that were customized to meet the specific filing needs of many businesses. A binder very similar to yours sold for $300 in 2019.
Q: Years ago, my grandmother gave me a small mother-of-pearl oyster shell handbag. The family history is that it was made by my grandmother’s great-great-great-grandfather, who was a fisherman in Scotland. It is made from the whole shell with a metal clasp and hinge. Inside it is divided into three pockets, with a lavender fabric lining. Have you ever seen something like this before?
A: Yes, oyster shell handbags are quite common, and handbags like yours are still commercially produced. They are easily available online at different prices. More sophisticated types have gold bands around the shell and “carry” chains. In Victorian times, oyster shell handbags were popular as souvenir items sold at seaside resorts. In good condition, it could be worth between $100 and $200. Without seeing the purse, we’re not sure if your rumor about your great-great-great-grandfather is true or a fishy story, but you have a nice memory.
Q: I inherited a Rookwood vase when my grandmother died 60 years ago. It’s shaded from dusty pink to light green at the top, and there are three stylized tulips sculpted along the length of the vase. The vase is approximately 8½ inches tall. It is marked with the Rookwood logo and “XXIX” above “2387”. I know it must be old, but is it valuable?
A: Rookwood Pottery was founded in Cincinnati by Maria Longworth Nichols in 1880. Bookends, dinnerware, figurines, tiles, and vases were made. The coins were marked “RP”, with the letter “R” upside down, surrounded by flames. Roman numerals indicating the year were included below the initials from 1900. The pottery went bankrupt in 1941. It was bought and sold several times thereafter, and production resumed in 2006. The mark on your vase indicates that it was made in 1929. the number “2387” is the shape number. Early pottery made by famous Rookwood artists fetches the highest prices. Some sell for several thousand dollars. Your vase is worth about $200.
Q: I inherited a set of very old metal cookie cutters from my mother. I’ve never used them but I have childhood memories of cookies made with them. Can you tell me a bit about old cookie cutters? How can I determine the age and the price?
A: With the “farmhouse” style currently a design favourite, early cookie cutters with their rustic look are fun to collect and display. Cookie cutters are thought to date to around 1475, with the first American cookie cutters made by tinsmiths in East Berlin, Connecticut around 1720. Tin was the primary material for cookie cutters until 1920, when aluminum became popular. Plastic replaced aluminum after World War II. Metal cookie cutters with “bullet” handles are particularly sought after by collectors. Early knives typically had backs made of uneven pieces of scrap metal.
POINT: Silverware that has been tarnished by eggs will become clean if rubbed with damp salt.
on the block
Current prices are recorded from antique shows, flea markets, sales and auctions across the United States. Prices vary by location due to local economic conditions.
Jewelry, pendant, dice, textured gold, shiny gold pips, 1800s, ¾ inch, $75.
Toy, Girl Cycle, girl on motorcycle, tin lithograph, vinyl head with rooted hair on rider, friction work, box, Haji, Japan, 1950s, 8 inch, $195.
Rookwood pottery pitcher, Cherries and leaves, standard glaze, three-sided shape, shaped rim with elongated spout, Rookwood flame mark, artist figure for Amelia Browne Sprague, 1891, 5½ by 7 inches, $220.
Sterling silver bowl, geometric cartouche with E monogram, flared, wide stepped rim, Gorham, circa 1910, 3 by 9½ inches, $325.
Civil War Union canteen, metal, brown wool cover, cotton webbing, three sling loops, cap with ring and chain, 7¾ inches, $530.
Poster, Take Up the Sword of Justice, classic figure with arms raised, holding sword, Lusitania ship in background, linen backing, Bernard Partridge, London, 1915, 27 by 19 inches, $630.
Glass compote, Morning Glory, flower-shaped bowl covered in lavender, clear stem and foot, stamped Libbey, circa 1930, 7 by 7 inches, $750.
Clock, tall case, mahogany, broken arch top with scrollwork and finial, fretwork on sides of glass panel, arched glass door, moon face, Arabic numerals, three weights, Howard Miller Clock Co., 94 by 30 inches , $1,220.
Scrimshaw crimper, stylized horse shape, whalebone ivory, fluted wheel, horse head holder with engraved eyes and mane, looped handle decorated with a bouquet of flowers, circa 1860, 6½ inches, $1,500.
Clock, shelf, burl wood, blackened accents, arched cover, five brass finials, white and brass dial, Whitington and Westminster chimes, stand base with brass feet, England, circa 1900, 15 x 9 x 8 inches, 2 $000.