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Terry and Kim Kovel, Published October 10 2013

Kovel's Antiques: Antique ads turn up in some strange places

Look in your grandmother’s china cabinet for unusual glass and china. You may find some special pieces originally given away as product premiums during the early 20th century. There was no television, and radio was just getting developed, so “ads” often were objects that would be kept by the family. Colorful trade cards, sets of pressed glass or Depression glass, dishes of all kinds, souvenir spoons, printed handkerchiefs and even furniture were available.

A small cup we inherited puzzled us for many years. The 3-C,-inch-high porcelain cup is decorated with bright pink carnations and gold trim. But inside the rim of the cup, where you see it when finished drinking, are the words “Armour’s Bouillon Cubes.” The underside of the cup says “C.T. Altwasser.” The maker was easy to identify. We list a few pieces of its china in each edition of “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide.” C. Tielsch & Co. of Altwasser, Germany, was in business in Silesia, Germany, from 1845 to 1945.

Armour & Co. was founded in Chicago in 1867 as a meat-packing plant. It also made buttons, glue, fertilizer, margarine and other items from by-products. The Armour brand name still is used in the United States for meat and other products. Bouillon cubes were originally used to turn hot water into a tasty drink that aided digestion. Bouillon was also used in cooking, just as it is today. The Armour cup must have been a popular premium, because many are still available at flea markets and shops. They sell for $20 to $25 each.

Q: I found a 25-piece set of Golden Wheat dishes in my mother’s attic. The mark on each dish include the words “Golden Wheat, Made in USA, 22K Gold, Oven Proof,” with a sheaf of wheat on each side. The set includes six dinner plates, six salad plates and a few serving pieces, but only a couple cups, saucers and soup bowls. What is the set worth?

A: Golden Wheat dishes were premiums first inserted in boxes of Duz detergent during the 1950s. Each month, a different packaged dish was inserted in a box of detergent. The pattern is a realistic image of five standing sheaves of wheat, and the rim of each dish was edged in gold. There is disagreement about the company that made the dishes, because the very same mark was used by Scio Pottery of Scio, Ohio; Homer Laughlin China Co. of Newell, W.Va.; and French Saxon China Co. of Sebring, Ohio. It is possible all three pottery companies made dishes for Duz. Because so many dishes were made and so many people saved them, they are not rare and prices are low. Another problem is that defining a “set” is impossible because many of the dishes made it into homes one at a time. We have seen a 22-piece set offered for $35.

Q: We were left a large figural owl by my wife’s grandparents. It’s about 3 feet tall and weighs 40 to 50 pounds. It appears to be made of fired clay. The base looks like tile used for roofing or old piping. It’s marked “Evens & Howard, St. Louis, Mo.” We don’t intend to sell it, but we’re interested in the background.

A: Evens & Howard Fire Brick Co. was incorporated in 1867, but a brickworks had been operating at the company’s location since 1837. Fire bricks were used to line fireplaces, furnaces, fireboxes, ovens, etc. The bricks were made from clay dug from mines in St. Louis and Glencoe, Mo. The clay was weathered for at least six months before it was made into bricks. The company began making sewer pipe in 1858. It also made fire-clay chimney tops, hot-air flues and floor tiles. Evidently the company also made figures like yours. Evens & Howard remained in business until at least the second decade of the 20th century.

Q: While cleaning out my brother’s home, I found seven gold-rimmed clear glass luncheon plates decorated on the bottom with “wall-to-wall” cigar bands. The bands apparently were glued to the bottom of the plates, then covered with felt. One plate has a center portrait of Rudolph Valentino, another a portrait of a woman, and still another a picture of a cherub. Are these plates collectible?

A: Your plates were popular craft projects in the early 1900s. Today, some people refer to these “reverse collages on glass” as a form of folk art. Single plates like yours sell online for $25 to $40.

Q: I have a set of old metal ice tongs marked “Gifford Wood Co.” I bought them at an estate sale more than 50 years ago. Can you estimate age and value?

A: Any tool marked “Gifford Wood Co.” was not made earlier than 1905, the year Gifford Brothers of Hudson, N.Y., merged with William T. Wood & Co. of Arlington, Mass. The company specialized in tools to carry and handle ice. Gifford Wood Co. ice tongs often are offered for sale online. Prices range from $20 to $50, depending on size, quality and condition.

Tip: Do not put wax on a wooden toy to preserve it. The wax may yellow and disturb any markings or paper decoration.

For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit the Kovels’ website, www.kovels.com or write to Kovel, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.