Danielle Arnet

The circa 1800 gold jewel box with a singing bird mechanism sold for $273,253 in a recent Antiquorum Hong Kong auction. Photo courtesy of www.antiquorum.com
Circa 1800 Gold Jewel Box

The circa 1800 gold jewel box with a singing bird mechanism sold for $273,253 in a recent Antiquorum Hong Kong auction. Photo courtesy of www.antiquorum.com

Q: I own an Arthur Court whale tureen that has been discontinued. I found one online valued at $4,500. How/where would I go about finding a buyer?

A: Here's one where I got smart thanks to a reader query. I didn't know about Court.

To clue readers, Arthur Court is the designer behind a line of nature-themed cast aluminum giftware. Pieces sell in upscale gift shops and are popular on better bridal registries. Because they're formed from sand-cast aluminum, Court's flatware and hollowware are more affordable and "modern."

Made in the 1980s, the whale tureen measures almost 15 inches high by 23 inches long. Too recent to be vintage, it might interest collectors because it is no longer made.

A little digging shows that our reader found the astounding $4,500 figure in an online ad for a similar tureen. The ad offers it for $2,000, and the seller claims it is "valued at $4,500."

We've said it here before: There is a vast difference between asking and getting. A seller can quote anything, but getting it is another matter. Whenever you see an eye-popping value, consider the source.

For a dose of reality, check secondary market prices for Court on eBay and on www.replacements.com. Top price we found was about $149, with most around $50 to $100; a large fish tray topped $100 on eBay. Neither the whale tureen nor any similar major piece was listed.

On the free resource www.liveauctioneers.com, we saw that Treadway Galleries in Cincinnati sold a Court tortoise shell table lamp for $1,500 in 2008. In 2009, Wright, a Modernism auction house in Chicago, realized $2,800 for a circa-1975 large folding screen by Court. This year, Rago sold a pair of aluminum antler armchairs with cowhide seats for $2,000. Another pair sold elsewhere for $2,300 in 2007.

The lesson is clear. Using free info detailing what plus how and where sold, any smart collector can get a handle on real results.

Free info provides leads. Now it's your turn to sell smart. How and where to sell is your call. Look at the plusses: Digging shows that there are Court buyers. They seem to prefer more unusual pieces. Plus, you know there are whale collectors, and this is a signature piece.

Q: Long ago, we bought a collection of Donald's cosmetics containers at an antiques show. My guess is that the collection came from a salesman's sample kit. Any info on the company that made the products?

A: Images sent show a variety of toiletries. Some, such as nail polish and an almond scented cream, are still in vogue. Others, such as a talcum powder tin, sachet powder and toilet water, speak to a different time.

From revenue stamps on some, the reader dates the collection to around 1915. That jibes with the delicate lithography and colors of the labels. Images are not clear, but we can spot a definitely Edwardian look to the markings.

We could not find any info on the Iowa maker, if indeed it was the maker. Perhaps the company name refers to a distributor. In any case, a query to local historical societies and museums might yield that info.

Arranging the items as display in a powder room is a splendid idea! Your notion that they were samples would explain why the collection remained intact and in such great condition.

BOOK IT! Published in 2003, "The Rustic Cabin: Design and Architecture" by Ralph Kylloe, remains the basic wish book on how to achieve the look of a cabin in the woods -- no matter where you live. Kylloe's lavish new book, "Rustic Elegance," takes the concept up several notches. Pairing crystal chandeliers and antique mirrors in rooms with rustic walls, or showing a deluxe kitchen island made of rough-cut pine along with a new old-look gas stove provides a whole new look at rustic aesthetics. Kylloe even shows how to accommodate a large flat screen TV. What great gift ideas. Each is $60, published by Gibbs Smith.

AUCTION ACTION: Made around 1800 by Les Freres Rochat, the celebrated makers of singing bird pieces, a gold and mother-of-pearl jewel box featuring a singing bird mechanism brought $273,253 when it sold in a recent Antiquorum Hong Kong auction. Once owned by Empress Josephine, the box measuring roughly 8 inches by 4 inches by 7 inches sold with a fitted case and reference books citing the piece.


QUESTION: What was the highest price ever paid for a vintage teddy bear at auction?

a. $177,488.35

b. $97,630.15

c. $63,480.73

d. $148.116.28

A: It was $177,488.35 (converted currency), at Christie's London for a Steiff cinnamon bear given to a noted bear collector in 1904. The infant given the bear went on to found The Teddy Bear Club and run Good Bears of the World. "Teddy Girl" was bought by the Japanese founder of a teddy bear museum in Japan.

Source: "A Collector's Guide to Teddy Bears" by Judith Miller, an overview of different styles, makers and important bears.

Available at Amazon.com:

A Collector's Guide to Teddy Bears






Collecting - There's a Difference Between What Seller Asks and Seller Gets