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Terry Kovel, Published September 27 2013

Kovel's Antiques: Autumn colors source of art inspiration

The first day of autumn this year was Sept. 22. It is the day of the autumnal equinox, a term based on the journey of Earth around the sun.

On that day, day and night are each almost 12 hours long. It marks the days when air cools in the north and leaves on trees begin to change colors.

Artists for centuries have pictured colorful fall landscapes. Cameo glass artists often carved decorations from layers of glass made in the fall seasonal colors of orange and red.

A Daum Nancy vase made in France between about 1895 and 1920 pictures a lake scene with birch trees. The rectangular vase auctioned last year for almost $4,000.

Q: Please tell me the value of a Martha Washington sewing cabinet that belonged to my great-grandmother in the 1880s. It has four long legs and three drawers in the front. There is a semicircular wooden storage compartment with a hinged lid on each side. And why is it named after George Washington’s wife?

A: Martha Washington (1731-1802) enjoyed knitting and used a similar type of sewing table, without drawers, at Mount Vernon. The style you describe, along with its name, was not introduced until the 1920s. The first lady’s name was used to market the style, which became especially popular during the Depression. In other words, your great-grandmother’s table is not as old as you think it is. But depending on its quality and condition, it could sell for about $200.

Q: When cleaning out a cupboard, I found an Old Plantation wooden cigar box about 7½ inches long and 5½ inches wide. The outside and inside labels picture plantation scenes. There’s a 1901 IRS stamp on it. Please tell me something about the box.

A: The value of old wooden cigar boxes varies considerably depending on condition. The Old Plantation brand name dates from around the turn of the 20th century. Some Old Plantation boxes have impressed labels, while others have paper labels. A box with inside and outside paper labels in excellent condition recently auctioned for nearly $500.

Q: In the summer of 1972, I was traveling in Europe and read that Paul McCartney and Wings were to appear at the Montreux Pavilion in Montreux, Switzerland. So off I went. The streets were lined with posters for the concert, so I pried one loose, and today it’s framed and hanging on a wall in my basement. Any idea what it’s worth?

A: McCartney’s stop in Montreux was part of his new group’s “Wings over Europe” tour. Your poster, obviously an original, is not as valuable as an original Beatles poster. Still, it could sell for up to $70.

Q: In 1950, on my fifth birthday, I was given an Empire toy stove. It was made by Metal Ware Corp. I still have the little stove and it is still working, 63 years later. If you could give me any information on it, I would appreciate it.

A: Metal Ware Corp. has been operating in Two Rivers, Wis., for more than 90 years. It has made steam engines, driving accessories, popcorn poppers, roasters, hot dog warmers and other electric cooking appliances. In 1921 Metal Ware Corp. bought patent rights to the Empire toy line from Hughes Electric Co. of Chicago and began to make toy stoves. The stoves worked and would probably horrify today’s safety-conscious parents. Your 1940s toy stove sells today for $10 to $35, depending on condition. Older Empire stoves from the 1920s and 1930s sell for more. The company still makes and imports small electrical appliances.

Q: I inherited a 12-inch white pitcher and small covered dish from my grandmother, who was born in 1880. The pieces are white with gold trim and are decorated with blue and yellow flowers. Inside the dish is a disc with a hole. The bottom of each piece is stamped “Wheeling Pottery Co.” inside a wreath. Can you tell me their value?

A: Wheeling Pottery Co. of Wheeling, W.Va., was in business from 1879 until about 1923. The firm went through a number of mergers and name changes during that time. It made decorative and utilitarian pottery, semi-porcelain, art ware and sanitary ware. Your pitcher, from a toilet set, is worth $25 to $50; if you had the matching wash bowl, the set would be worth about $125. The small dish is a soap dish worth $15. Wheeling’s flow blue pieces sell for more.

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