Danielle Arnet

Garth Williams' original cover art for 'Charlotte's Web' sold for $155,350 recently at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. Photo courtesy of www.ha.com
"Charlotte's Web" Original Cover Art

Garth Williams' original cover art for 'Charlotte's Web' sold for $155,350 recently at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. Photo courtesy of www.ha.com

Q: I want to sell these steins but have no idea of their value. They've been in my family for many years and I'm anxious not to make a mistake. Any info?

A: Andre Ammelounx, owner of The Stein Auction Company, reviewed the images sent. Merged with Gary Kirsner Auctions in Arizona, Ammelounx's Net auctions are at www.garykirsnerauctions.com.

Ammelounx pegged ages for all three as the late 1800s-early 1900s. Made in the Westerwald region of Germany, they are from Grenzhausen, near Koblenz. All are cobalt and off-white glazed ceramic pieces.

One, IDed by the reader as a beer mug, is actually a half-liter stein minus its lid. The missing lid hurts value, so retail is only $5-$10. A larger punch bowl with double handles plus lid is $75-$125. The bigger, more traditional looking stein with lid is $75-$125. Note that values are retail, and for pieces in perfect condition.

According to Ammelounx, steins made in Grenzhausen were typically made as souvenirs. Sold low when new, they were produced in "hundreds of thousands by many companies," and "for a very long time." That means that many are still available.

Depending on style and condition, some bring good prices, but that refers to specific examples.

Q: My inherited cast iron shoe repair stand has a patent date of Dec. 24, 95. Does the 95 refer to 1795 or 1895? The earlier date would refer to my great-great grandfather. The later would be my grandfather.

A: The reader's cast iron piece with foot-shape forms upended on tall stands is called a cobbler's last. Key the term on eBay to view random examples.

The patent date refers to 1895. In 1795, shoes were custom made and extremely expensive. By the later date, they were mass-produced and every corner had a cobbler who repaired and restored shoes. Each cobbler had many lasts, made in a variety of arrangements. Cast iron is not perishable, so lasts remain common. You'll find them at flea markets for $5 to $10 apiece.

Key www.worthpoint.com, a subscription results database, to see a round-base bench use version with the same patent mark and last sizes. It sold on eBay for $61.25.

Q: I inherited over 30 carved and painted wooden Christmas soldiers by Patrick Jacobs. How do I find value?

A: The 7-inch-high handmade limited edition soldiers, released annually by Norman, OK artist Jacobs, are a regional passion and don't appear on national databases. Whether they will soar on the secondary market is academic.

In such cases, your potential buyer will be, or have ties to, the area. Price will be whatever someone is willing to pay. Nostalgia sells, especially at Christmas.

NEW: Christie's, the upscale global auction house, has a new IPad app that includes real-time auction results. The next time you find a Birkin bag or fine art at a garage sale, fire up the IPad to view comparable pieces with prices, in hi-res and a format you can manipulate. Available at the AppStore.

AUCTION ACTION: Sometimes, buying what you like pays off. A major early toy collector whose collection sold earlier this year at James D. Julia in Maine fancied omnibus wagons. One, a railroad version, brought $48,875 at auction earlier this year. Documented in an important toy reference, the late 1800s toy made by Althof Bergmann has fancy stenciling and a rear door that opens. The toy measures 17 inches in length.


Q: In most early cast iron omnibuses and similar "riding" toys, what major flaw holds prices down?

A: Many lack the removable vehicle driver. Most were lost. An intact, good condition toy with the original driver brings a premium.






Collecting - German Steins Vary Widely in Value