Antique or Junque: Peacock Vase Is Puzzling
Q: Attached is a photo of a strange and wonderful vase that I purchased at an antiques store a while ago. I sent the piece to my sister, who has a small antiques shop and she had never seen anything it. She then took it to a reputable antiques dealer that she knew. The dealer had been in the antiques business for many years, and she was also puzzled by it.
The piece is 16 inches tall at the brim, with the peacocks' beaks slightly higher than the top of the vase. The diameter of the base is 7 3/4 inches. There are no markings on the bottom, with the exception of round grey circles where it sat in the kiln. It is in mint condition with no crazing, chips or cracks.
It is an unusual piece, and we are all stymied by it. Can you shed any light on this for us?
A: Your figural peacock vase is an example of 20th-century art pottery. Without a manufacturer's mark, it can be difficult to identify the maker or the origin. There are several similar vases offered for sale on the internet. It has been described as Italian faience. Faience is a glaze that includes tin oxide in the finish. It is often used on red or buff earthenware, and the finished piece has a shiny opaque appearance. The process has been around for thousands of years, beginning in the Indus Valley and Egypt. According to one antiques seller, it may have been inspired by Louis Comfort Tiffany's peacock lamp that can be seen in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Tiffany's peacock lamp was created for Charles Winthrop Gould, an art collector. Gould had a passion for peacocks and wanted his home to reflect the exotic birds.
Despite that I found no reliable documentation of the origin of your vase, similar vases have sold on the internet from $100 to $595.
Q: I have a silver plate set that consists of a coffeepot, teapot, cream pitcher and sugar. Enclosed is the mark that is on each piece.
What can you tell me about the maker, age and value of my set?
A: Derby Silver Co. made your set. The firm was founded in Derby, Connecticut, in 1873. Your set was made in the late Victorian Era, around 1892. Collector interest in antique silver plate sets has greatly diminished. Your four-piece set would probably be worth $75 to $175.
Address your questions to Anne McCollam, P. O. Box 247, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Items of a general interest will be answered in this column. Due to the volume of inquiries, she cannot answer individual letters. To find out more about Anne McCollam and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com
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