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By Terry Kovel, Published August 24 2012

Kovels Antiques: Iridescent glass popular with collectors

Ancient Roman iridescent glass dug up in Israel is now being featured in modern jewelry. One of the jewelry designers told viewers of a late night shopping channel that the thin layer of iridescence called “patina” was taken from the ancient glass and assembled flake by flake on a base used to create new jewelry.

A chemical reaction causes buried glass to form the iridescent layer. We have seen 1950s bottles buried in a damp location that show this type of iridescence.

Artists have admired this glass iridescence since the early 1800s. In 1817, a man from Scotland patented a way to iridize glass, but the glass that collectors like today, the kind with a golden iridescence, was made by Ludwig Lobmeyr of Austria-Hungary in 1873. Other glass artists, including Louis Comfort Tiffany, began making their own type of iridescent glass.

Some of the factories that made gold iridescent glass and the date they started are Glasfabrik Johann Loetz-Witwe (1890), Wilhelm Kralik Sohn (1890s), Tiffany (1896), Koloman Moser (1900), Quezal Art Glass Co. (1901) and Steuben Glass Co. (1903). Carnival glass, a less-expensive and very different-looking type of iridescent glass, was made after 1908. Collectors and even experts often cannot identify the maker of a gold iridescent glass piece because the pieces are all so similar. And modern glassmakers can produce very similar glass pieces, too, so there is much confusion. The most expensive and most popular is Tiffany gold glass.

Q: I would like to know the age and make of my cast-iron toy gun. It’s marked “TG-27” and has a funny nub on the bottom and a short barrel. It probably opens at the grip. My brother repainted the entire gun to cover up rust.

A: Your toy gun is a cap gun made by the National Toy Co. The nub on the bottom of the grip lifts up to show where the caps should be loaded. Although the company didn’t officially incorporate until 1914, your cap gun likely dates from 1911. The company’s products were successful and sold in stores like FAO Schwarz. Since your cap gun is repainted, its value is very low.

Q: Please settle a dispute between my husband and me about our small table. It has been in my family for years. We think it’s made of iron. It has two pierced oval shelves and a marble top and it’s marked “B & H” and “1646.” The paint is chipped. I say it should not go to a landfill, and my husband insists it should. Who is right?

A: Your iron table was made by Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Co. Walter Hubbard and his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Lyman Bradley, started making cast-metal clocks, call bells, lamps, chandeliers, sconces, bookends, frames, andirons and sewing birds in 1854 in Meriden, Conn. The company was sold to Charles Parker in 1940.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Bradley & Hubbard made many types of small ornate tables and stands to hold plants, flowers, calling cards, smoking accessories and inkstands. The tables and stands sell today for about $150 to $350, depending on condition. All Bradley & Hubbard products are collectible. Don’t throw the table away.

Q: A Dr. Scholl’s counter display has been in my family for years. It advertises “Dr. Scholl’s Zino-pads. For Corns, Callouses & Bunions.” The display has a pair of men’s feet on it and contains a flickering light bulb that shines through a red lens to simulate pain. What is its value?

A: Dr. Scholl’s was founded in Chicago in 1906 by podiatrist William Mathias Scholl. Scholl was working for a local shoe retailer when he realized the market potential for shoes that addressed common foot problems. He took night classes at a medical school and received his degree in 1904.

When Scholl hired salesmen, he paid them higher wages if they took a podiatric course. On his first trip to Europe, Scholl personally sold arch supports to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

The company used many different styles of counter displays to advertise its products in drugstores. Your display is unusual because it has electric components. A nonelectrical vintage Dr. Scholl’s counter display recently sold for $144 at auction. Any large advertising sign with lights is worth hundreds of dollars.

Q: I have a scrapbook that belonged to my great-grandfather and then my grandfather. It’s a scrapbook all about the Villa Igiea in Palermo, Sicily. It has about 145 pages and is filled with newspaper clippings from the early 1900s. We would like to keep it in the family, but wonder what it might be worth. Who might be interested in it?

A: Collectors and libraries value letters, cards, documents and photographs of famous people. If the person who kept the scrapbook isn’t famous, the value of material in an old scrapbook is minimal unless the photos and letters relate to a historic event. Condition is always important, too.

Collectors don’t like newspaper clippings as much as they like postcards, trade cards and “scraps” (small die-cut colored pictures). They will pay $1 to $10 for common examples and more than $100 for rarities. If your scrapbook includes more than clippings, you may find it has more value by taking it apart and donating or selling the individual photos, postcards and scraps.


For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s Web site, www.kovels.com