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Antique or Junque: Cameo Classics Chronicle Cruel Prison Life

Anne Mccollam on

Q: This is a photo of the cover of a Cameo Classics hardcover book that I have. On the cover is the title: "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" by Oscar Wilde. In the center of the cover is an ivory cameo of a man. It was published by Grosset and Dunlap in New York.

It was given to me by a friend, and I would like to know more about its age, origin and value, if any.

A: Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde wrote "The Ballad of Reading Gaol." Wilde was imprisoned to hard labor for "gross indecency" from 1895 to 1897. He began serving his sentence at New Gate, London, England, and later was transferred to the prison at Reading Gaol in Reading, Berkshire, England. "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" was a poem he wrote after his release from prison in 1897. Wilde chronicled the harsh prison life and the hanging of fellow prisoner Charles Thomas Wooldridge. Grosset and Dunlap reprinted illustrated classics from 1935 to the 1940s. The series was published in black cloth with gold stamping and a raised ivory cameo in the center of the covers. It was affordable. Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854 and died in Paris in 1900. "The Picture of Dorian Gray," "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Salome" are a few of his famous works. Cameo Classics books usually include slipcases.

Your book without the slipcase would probably be worth $20 to $35.

Q: In the 1960s to the 1980s, I collected porcelain dancing female figurines. I enclosed the mark that is on the bottom of each one. The smallest stands about 4 inches, and the tallest is 12 inches, and they are in mint condition. They are all art deco style and wearing long, fitted gowns. They are very graceful. Most are blonde, but a few have dark hair. They are wearing shoes that match their gowns.

Anything you can tell me about their current value will be appreciated.


A: Hertwig and Co. made your figurines. The factory was founded by Christop Hertwig and Benjamin Beyermann and was located in Katzhutte, Thuringia, Germany, from 1864 to 1945. By 1890, they employed 300 workers, plus another 600 who worked from home. Hertwig and Co. produced figurines in the shapes of animals, dolls and bathing beauties. In the last half of the 20th century, their art deco dancing figurines were eagerly sought after by collectors.

Your figurines were made around the 1920s to the 1930s and can range in value from $50 to several hundred dollars.


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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