C.R. from Santa Barbara finished remodeling her house and decided to go with a new, fresh look. She's tired of the look of rooms we used to call "period," in other words, antique-laden. She got in touch with me about a sideboard buffet for which she paid somewhere in the mid-four figures. She asked if I knew where to sell the Louis XV-style cabinet, complete with marble top, four cabinet doors below, a mirrored backsplash and a curved glass vitrine display above for fine china. The doors bear delicate and scrolling floral relief carving. It's graceful and a statement of the importance we once put on dining room furniture and display for our fine china and silver.
Business Insider features an article entitled "We went to a Goodwill store and saw how it's overrun with stuff Millennials and Gen X'ers refuse to take from their parents." Goodwill directors "have seen an uptick in donations in urban areas where a high concentration of Millennials live. There's been an increase in donations of dining room furniture in particular, as it's a room that Millennials often don't have in their homes," says the Insider.
Well, C.R., here's the problem: The form of your piece, a sideboard, makes it one of the most difficult forms to sell. And the style, Louis XV Revival, circa 1910-20, also makes it a hard sell because of the flourishes and florals.
Think of what they designed this sideboard to display: silverplate, fine china and crystal. Now think of this fact: Globally, the largest segment of the most powerful market today is people born from 1981-97. These are the millennials, with a global annual spending power of $2.5 trillion. If the millennial generation doesn't buy dining furniture, dining rooms, fine china, silverplate, linens and good crystal for the formal table, the market for such objects is anything but flourishing.
C.R. told me she's lightening up the tone of her home, using a more contemporary look. She's not the only one designing that way in Santa Barbara, where the most common phone call to my office is "Help! I want to live with LESS!" Simpler lines, less furniture, less to worry about — many of us here want to live simpler. I told C.R. the market for a sale of her piece in Santa Barbara is bad.
So there it sits in the garage. Can she sell it at auction? The two closest auctions (remember, transportation of heavy furniture is expensive) for this style of furniture are Clars in Oakland and Abell in Los Angeles. Neither house will take a piece of furniture that is estimated to sell for $500 to $1,000, only over that amount. She asked about Craigslist, which she dislikes, as do I. Therefore, I suggested a donation.
Now, an accountant will tell her that the new tax act says itemized deductions for small donations are a thing of the past. Well, a donation should no longer be considered simply a "tax motivation," says Rosemary L. Ringwald, managing director, U.S. Trust, Bank of America. I reached her by phone; she's a great resource on art as an asset class. C.R. "doesn't get to itemize her deduction unless she's over the threshold," which is now $12,000 for an individual, $24,000 for a couple. C.R. "can't get past that," she said. Ms. Ringwald suggested that a deduction is not why we donate today, against my suggestion that charities who accept small donations of art and antiques might suffer under this new act. On the contrary, "Families are increasingly setting up foundations" (involving art and antiquities), "even when a straight donation may hold more tax benefit." We discussed that C.R. might donate to a historic home museum and see her donation enjoyed by the public.
My suggestion is to ask her accountant about a donation anyway. Donations are estimated hypothetically, using consummated sales of similar objects, but those sales you find don't have to be geographically specific. Santa Barbara is not a good place to sell dining furniture or carved French-style furniture. Looking for a hypothetical fair market value for donation purposes, you'd have to look nationally for sales, perhaps where the market for this style and type of furniture is active.
Finally, C.R. would gladly sell the sideboard to you if you like the piece! Let me know, and I'll hook you up with a fine dining room buffet for your fine china, crystal and silver.
JD from Santa Barbara sends me two pieces of bright yellow Vaseline glass, both of which were once part of a desk set. You see an ink well and a paperclip bowl. Originally, the set would have been complete in yellow glass: a pen tray, a nib box, a letter holder, a stamp box, a blotter roller and two blotter weights for a desk blotter pad. This was a proper office gift.
If JD had a black light (UV), he would be scared. The glass would glow an ominous sickly green – showing evidence of uranium, usually in trace levels of 2% by weight uranium, but some maleficent glassmakers included up to 25% uranium. After the 1940’s, when uranium was stockpiled for our counter-attack (some thought) against the Russians, Vaseline glass was no long produced. Uranium today is still used in scientific glass.
If JD had a Geiger counter on his desk, it would click, showing “above background” radiation. Martin Klaproth (1743-1817), an experienced glassmaker, would have been proud – he discovered uranium in the 1700s. He would have loved to see J.D. exposed to radioactivity.
The fashion for this glass, which can range from yellow to yellow-green, began in traditional glassworks in Bohemia (now Austria). In 1840, Baccarat in France caught on to the unique color, producing their own brand of Vaseline glass, christened Chrysoprase, after its resemblance to rare chalcedony, a form of silica (quartz and monazite) mineral, gaining its green color in nature from nickel oxide. The glass earned the name Vaseline because of the color resemblance to the commercial entry to the market, contemporaneously, of that petroleum jelly.
Resembling petroleum jelly in its viscosity, Craftsmen discovered that the addition of uranium to glass allowed them to fire the glass at intense heat; the micro-crystallization also enabled glassmakers to produce oily or greasy looking depths to the glass. Some Vaseline glass can fool a collector into thinking he/she owns a piece of porcelain it can appear so opaque. And unlike lower-fired glass, it is very hardy, so pieces such as JD’s still survive today.
Yet that scientist in the 18th century simply rediscovered the use of uranium in glass: the earliest known use dates from 79AD, in glass mosaics found in a Roman villa on the Bay of Naples, discovered by an Oxford don in 1912.
As late as the 1920-1930, this radioactive glass was manufactured and collections showed up named green “Depression Glass,” or the rare and valuable Anglo-American blend of pink and yellow opaque glass called “Burmese” glass, or the imitation jade (usually fraudulently labeled real jade, made in China) called “Jadeite” glass, and the tableware called “Custard” glass.
Surprisingly rampant chemical experiments occurred in the mid to late 19th century: glass manufacturers capitalized on the growing middleclass market for a loaded, beautifully presented middle class table, for the first time available for middle class buyers. Previously only the very rich could afford glass in abundance. Mid-19th century glass was molded in a factory and NOT hand blown, piece by piece; the mechanization of glass made it a democratic medium, in demand as new brides’ gifts. And what a divergence of forms were produced. The ubiquitous banana boat and the pickle caster date from this period. Every table had to have three sizes of glass goblets as well as glass side dishes for fruit and cake. Centerpieces to hold fruit of pressed glass came into vogue as well as mass produced sherbet stemware.
Although this glass won’t kill you, collectors are usually delighted when someone notices they in fact collect uranium in a trace form. Glass bead wearers beware; many yellow or green beads from the earlier 1900s contain uranium, as well as MOST collectible children’s marbles from the earlier 20th century. I'm shocked to think that not only were children’s marbles fraught with traces of uranium but most kid’s toys of cast iron were painted with lead paint.
JD’s pieces are worth $150 each, but the rarest form of American Vaseline glass was made at the Boston and Sandwich Glass Co. in Massachusetts in the mid to late 19th century. A pair of Vaseline Sandwich small vases can sell for as much as $1,500 for a pair.
The first time G.M. and her family evacuated, ash from the Thomas Fire fell around them. She packed up three cars and they headed for a friend's house in Monterey.
"I hated selecting amongst my art, my silver, my personal files, my clothes, my jewelry, and my son's little school ceramic presents. I thought I might come back to nothing." She writes that the moment she drove away from her Montecito home threatened by the largest fire in California history, she almost hoped she would find nothing when she returned. "I kind of wished for a simpler way of living. I realized I had too much stuff."
Thus her email to me: "Dr. E., do you have suggestions for lightening my load?" After re-hanging her art on December 19, she found herself 'doing it all again,' evacuating in the rain on Jan. 9.
G.M. spent years furnishing her home. I came to visit and offered her the following suggestions based on "object class" categories, an appraising term that acknowledges both the type and market level of collections. My suggestions are here not for homeowner's insurance purposes but are simply a few hints for less painful decisions around treasures. The past couple months we have been faced with two wild races around our homes to pull together what's "important." I suggest that although the objects seem important, we can diminish the tenacity with which we hang onto them.
Start with your storage unit. A colleague of mine is helping a client go through a mud-soaked locker right now. G.M., like 10 percent of American homeowners, has a costly and not often visited storage unit. G.M., take a weekend, hire a crew, take photos to accompany your IRS form 8283 for donations and donate things. Take along some fresh boxes for the keepers and label each with photos of what's inside. We used a little portable printer that attached to a digital camera and printed out photos right there. Contract with the facility for a smaller storage space in advance. That way you'll have to declutter.
Next, have a good look at the art in your home. Divide the art into "can't live without" and "valuable." You'll be surprised at the difference. Hire someone like me to assess the valuable art. Hire someone with a great camera and good lighting for the "can't live without" group. Shoot so that you can reproduce that group into giclees (really good reproductions) in the event of a total loss. In the event of an evacuation, take only the expensive stuff.
On to the kitchen! Keep one good set of china, and one everyday set. You kitchen is not the place to make time-consuming decisions. The market value for anything once called "formal entertaining" is minimal. Miss something you donate? It's dirt cheap to buy it again.
Next, check your sentimental objects, letters and photos. Nothing in this category is useful, except for what it says about you. Therefore, make this group into real, live stories. Hire someone who can take good still photos or a video, spend an afternoon reciting what those objects and letters mean. I had a client whose late husband used Noxzema in those cobalt blue jars; he saved each empty. She had five boxes of jars she couldn't dispose of. The color and smell reminded her poignantly of her late husband. I had our staff photographer John make a lovely composition tower of those jars, light it beautifully and make an art piece for her.
Losing everything is a turning point, whether it means rebuilding or restoring. But after a disaster, we think differently about possessions. Thus, think in advance, for next time, about innovative ways to keep the stories those objects tell and let some of those objects go.
A good example is your large collection of books. A client of mine, an avid reader and collector, today has a library buried in 4 feet of mud. The books remain on the shelves, looking like someone had painted them brown. All 700 volumes are toast. My suggestion? Photograph all covers. Hire a knowledgeable dealer to explain which of your books are rare or first editions. Keep those; donate the rest, because you now have a photographic record of what you have read. Check the price of used books you can always buy back a title.
Facing a chaos is one thing. Facing a chaos of memories is another! My final word: Prepare yourself for creative ways to focus on the memories before you are forced to say goodbye to the objects.
For more advice from Dr. Elizabeth Stewart on how to downsize and declutter watch her videos on the subject.
A.K. sends an old engraving on paper of Abraham Lincoln in oval form, bordered by scenes from his life. The bottom is printed “Photograph by MB Brady” with a Lincoln signature facsimile, also, “Engraved and published by JC Buttre, 48 Franklin Street, New York.”
Although this steel plate engraving is not worth much money, it is worth a great deal in historical meaning. The work exhibits the close relationship between two mediums: photography and print engraving; as an engraver would copy a photo (copyright not invented yet), the lithograph offered it to the newspapers. The first images of a great President were pioneered, as well as many images of popular American heroes of the Civil War era, including folk heroes of the Revolutionary times. Previously, Americans might not have recognized the face of a great hero. After images like A.K.’s in the mid-19th century, a celebrity face was everywhere. In these days of the ubiquitous faces of our Presidential candidates, we are immune to a time when a celebrity face was met only in person.
The engraver, John Chester Buttre (1821-93) had a distinguished career as a portrait engraver, copying from well-known artists and photographers, making over 3,000 engravings of Americans of political and military import. He tapped into a nationalistic cultural phenomenon, because although photography was “inverted” in the second quarter of the 19th century, the process was not affordable for middle-class collectors of American valor. And boy, did we collect famous portraits in the mid-19th century; Americans were proud of their heroes. Buttre’s fame began with a full-length portrait of our fifteenth president, James Buchanan (1791-1868), as well as a portrait of Martha Washington (1731- 1802) in 1858.
Capitalizing on the tenor of the Civil War era, when more men died in the Civil War than any other American conflict, Buttre specialized in Civil War heroes, especially the dead ones. Two percent of the population died in that war, the equivalent of 6 million men today. Deadlier still were the diseases of the war; mumps, chickenpox, and measles: two thirds of the Civil War dead perished from disease along.
Thus within sight of the specter of death there arose a strange mid 19th century sentimentality in the visual arts which glorified home, childhood, and religion. Buttre the engraver seized upon this current with images such as “The Happy Days of Childhood” and “Prayer in Camp,” some of his best-selling genre engravings. Greater still was his series of Lincoln portraits.
The Brown University Library has 168 images by Buttre; many picture Lincoln, etched from photos by the famous Civil War photographer Mathew B. Brady . Also among Buttre’s stable of worthies are Adm. Stringham (War of 1812), Brig. Generals Burnside and Don Carlos Buell (Mexican-American War), and Brig. Generals Fitz Henry Warren and Franz Sigel (Civil War). The names give an indication of the multicultural military in the early years. In the Civil War, for example, one in four regiments contained a majority immigrant fighting force. Buttre’s engravings reflect this diversity.
A.K.’s engraving is taken by Buttre from an original photograph by the foremost American war photographer, Mathew B. Brady (1822-1896), self-appointed official photographer for the Union Army. Brady captured the war from his horse-drawn “Whatsit Wagon” studio. His charisma and talent made him welcome on the front, a rare thing for the paparazzi these days.
Statesmen and heroes vied to sit for Brady, but the most famous sitter was of course Abraham Lincoln. His “Brady Lincoln” is the photo used for the engraving on our five-dollar bill. Other notables who sat for Brady were Jackson, Webster, Grant, Lee, Carnegie, and Barnum. Photographic images were collected on cartes-de-visite (calling cards), traded like baseball cards.
If you saw the movie Lincoln, you saw Brady’s images, most of which were shot with huge glass plates under difficult conditions. The Brady photos, with his colleagues Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan, changed the way we thought about war, slavery, prisoners of war ---and President Lincoln. A god was created in Brady’s images of Lincoln and McClellan at Antietam, Lincoln as he ascends the platform to speak at Gettysburg, Lincoln as the Grand Review marches past, and the hanged Lincoln conspirators. Brady’s “Lincoln portraits” live on, as A.K.’s has been saved for 150+ years. The value at auction, because this image was so popular, is $250.
Interestingly, J.B. Buttre’s work might have been forgotten except for his enterprising and uncommon businesswoman daughter Lillian C. Buttre, who published her dad’s work in three volumes, The American Portrait Gallery (1880-1).
G.R. uses a pair of Polish Judaica candlesticks for the weekend Shabbos family meal. They date from the last quarter of the 19th century. They're marked with the Polish double eagle and a number — 874 — which means that the sticks are made of a metal containing 87.4 percent silver. Compare this with sterling silver, which contains 92.5 percent silver.
Polish silver of this era was known to be graded into three levels of silver content to create three levels of value in the marketplace. G.R.'s sticks aren't of the highest silver content, nor are they of the lowest. They are right in the middle. This frugality will impress you when you read who made them, and for whom.
G.R.'s grandmother brought these Shabbos sticks with her on the boat from Poland. No doubt they were ceremonially special to her, a young girl, but perhaps even more so because they were crafted by her father, a silversmith in Lublin, Poland. The silver stamp gives his name: CJ Manmin, a shortened version of his full name, Chaim Josef Manzumen. Later, U.S. authorities changed the family name to Mann.
Chaim Josef was born and died in Lublin. But in 1922 his wife, Sheva Glika Kastenbaum, immigrated to join their children, who had already come to Chicago, where she died 10 years later at the age of 73. She might have been a widow at this time.
G.R. has no records of her great-grandfather, the Polish silversmith of Lublin. But I can tell her that he was a very courageous man because he was a Jewish silversmith, and more than likely a talented artisan with a good business head. For, in Europe, Jews were not normally allowed to become silversmiths because being a Jew meant no entrance to the strong guild system. Thus, Chaim Josef had to be quite something in Lublin.
Many Jewish ceremonial objects I've seen were made by non-Jews on commission for Jewish families. Take, for example, a comparable pair of Shabbos sticks marked with the name of the smith, "Fraget," made in Warsaw, at the same date, by a French smith. Most telling are the mistakes made in Hebrew inscriptions because non-Hebrew readers made the objects, and could only copy the script, which is difficult enough.
The last part of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century held more than turbulent times for Jews, and, therefore, objects such as these (called Judaica in the market today), of silver, were not displayed to the general public. Synagogues held their own repositories of artifacts for education of the congregation to admire in ceremonies, but in 1878 at the Exposition Universelle de Paris the public viewed 82 such Jewish ceremonial objects. That was the first public show — in or out of a museum — on record. And these things have been around a long time. That tells you something about Judaica, not only the necessity of secrecy but also the tradition of secrecy.
I can date the sticks because, by the end of World War I, Poland, which had been divided into parts of Russia, Austria, Prussia and Germany, became the Republic of Poland in 1918. Only then did assay marks become established as a standard in 1920, and these consisted of a head with a kerchief, a number for the level of silver content, and a letter for the town where the object was made.
G.R., your great-grandfather was indeed a trailblazer in one sense, but not in another. The tradition of Jewish artistry in gold- and silversmithing is mentioned as early in time as the writing of Exodus 39.3: "and they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, with cunning work, to do service in this Holy Place, making the Ephod" (the priest's vestment).
The value of your Shabbos sticks is $1,800 for the pair, but as you say, you would never sell them. Now you know how very special they are. The major market for Judaica has grown astronomically since the days of secrecy; both Sotheby's and Christie's have annual auctions of Judaica, and the major market for such objects is New York. Many Jewish families, who have had to give up their ceremonial treasures, over the years have created quite a strong market for the repatriation of Judaica. You are lucky to have not one but both of your sticks.
PS sends me a large red Chinese temple vase with two huge black painted dragons curling along the sides. The vase stands about 36” tall, the base material terracotta. Two features are its iconography of the dragon, and the scale. The shape is termed “high shouldered” as the volume flares to the top bulge before it closes in on a significantly rimmed mouth. These vessels were perfect for storage; the footprint is small, the taper is balanced, movement is as easy as tipping and rolling when sealed: this vessel might have held much grain or rice at one time in the last 100 years. Chinese ceramics are found all over the world, and this was as true in the 17th century as it is today. Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) pieces are even found in Turkey.
Chinese ceramics are difficult to date. The fine arts in China are grounded in a very different philosophy than European arts, and this philosophy has to do with longevity. Chinese forms are classic; the shape of PS’s vase could date from the late Neolithic Period, when the potter’s wheel was invented (220-210 BCE); the wheel facilitated uniformity in shape. A beautiful shape was the goal, unchanging with each fluctuation in style or taste of an era. Therefore, treasured forms are the purest old forms, created in traditional ways.
However, old things look old. And the paint surface on PS’s vase is fairly new. Unless this piece was never used, an old paint surface would never look this clean. I date the piece to the early 20th century.
Furthermore, motifs on Chinese art are valued for their classicism; this motif is a dragon pair. So appropriate for a vessel, the dragon is “Yang,” associated with water. An old myth tells the story of the four dragons, the Long Dragon, the Yellow, the Black and the Pearl. Seeing people on earth suffering a drought, these four dragons scooped up the sea in their mouths and shot the water into the clouds, making rain. The sea god was angered, and commanded four mountains to imprison the transgressors. This created China’s four mightiest rivers as the dragons wiggled inside their mountain jails. PS’s vase pictures the Black Dragon, the embodiment of the Heilongjiang (the Black Dragon River) in Northern China.
People born in the year of the dragon are thought to be lucky. Emperors wore dragons embroidered on silk robes in gleaming gold, springing from clouds heavy with rain, gliding through the waters of the earth.
The origins of the mythical beast are unknown, although some scholars believe the dragon references the rainbow, the serpent of the sky. Dragons carved in jade have been discovered in sites of the Hongshan culture (4800-3000 BCE).
PS’s vase is a good example of low-fired pottery, or earthenware, as distinct from high-temperature fired porcelain. Low-fired vessels are heated to 950-1200° C., lasting through the ages: although made of clay, they can be buried and reborn. Good examples of such wares are the terracotta warriors accompanying the tomb of the First Qin Emperor in 220 BCE. Porcelain has a slightly higher concentration of a clay mineral called Kaolin, silicon layered mineral which makes it strong and non-porous. Porcelain is a type of ceramic that is fired at 1250-1400° C. Forty-five centuries of pottery survives, as the material was always useful and aesthetically pleasing; ancient Chinese ceramic wares are some of the oldest pottery in the world.
PS, all you need to know about Chinese ceramics can be learned by understanding China’s three finest types, consistently produced through the ages. Firstly, Sancai , with its distinctive three-color glaze of green, yellow ochre and beige; Jian tea-ware, with its black heavy glaze, created by iron-rich molten oxidation in the clay of certain areas; and Ding or Ru ware. Ding is pure white with a fine glaze; Ru is fine with a crazed or crackled glaze.
Finally, one significant feature of PS’s vase is its silhouette of the dragon in black, similar to Ancient Greek Red or Black figure vases from Athens, 6th-4th century BCE. How it differs is that PS’s vase states a concept, which is the embodiment of Yang, personified by the dragon. A Chinese ceramic vessel doesn’t narrate a tale, such as the Greek Exekias vase of Ajax and Achilles, engaged in playing a board game. In Chinese art, the philosophy, the concept, trumps the historical narrative. Lightly tap on the vessel and you will hear a resonant ring, which indicates no hidden cracks: PS’s vase is worth $600.
The Personality of the American Home, an expert’s look at Generations of People Who Own ‘Stuff,’ is a result of five years of observations of appraiser’s clients, spanning four generational groups. What it narrates is a story of a shape-shifting change in the concept of HOME.
The objects collected in your home are valued – yet that value is changing. Value is generationally relative to the speed and changeability of life in the 21st century.
Attitudes about “home” historically have changed through the generations; what your grandparents thought was necessary for a proper household is not what your kids think. The value of a material possession is no longer its WORTH.
‘Worthy’ value is defined in 2018 as contributing to the ease of living, the range of adaptability, style, utility and functionality of a home. These descriptives do not apply to treasures such as formal china, cut crystal, or plush Persian rugs.
Taste, in what defines, warms, and decorates a home, for a family and its guests, is shifting, along with the winds of a new aesthetic.
Value was once implicit in certain objects we lived with. Now, objects hold explicit values- just think of the technology in your Millennial son’s home!
View this chart Elizabeth created to illustrate this change in Value and Taste.
ES sends me a porcelain-headed doll with jointed limbs. Her grandmother brought it with her when she immigrated to the US in 1916. The doll wears modern (polyester) clothing, and her hair is a re-make of an older, albeit blonde, wig.
My regular readers know writing about a doll tortures me. However, because of my phobia, readers insist on sending me dolls. Occasionally one is interesting enough to write about.
ES’s doll’s body is composition- a wood-gesso compound, easily molded into a form. Older dolls before composite wood were made of stuffed leather bodies.
A feature that adds value to the turn of the century dolls is the treatment and artistry of the doll’s eyes. Blue eyes are more rare and desirable. Blue eyes are more difficult to manufacture than darker eyes because of the inclusion of the thin painted black lines upon the glass inside the eyes, meant to imitate the human iris. Eyes are set around a black insert to initiate a human pupil. To complete the hideous eye, the colored part of the eye is set into a round ball of white glass.
The value of a doll is often dependent on the complex mechanism of the ‘sleep eye’. A sleep-eyed doll indicates a mimic of sleep when the body is prone. A small weigh is attached to an “L” shaped bar connected to the eyeball, changing with direction of the head. The outside of the glass eye ball is painted with a flesh tone. It is my hope that this practice camouflaged the pure white eyeball that a little girl would likely see if the eyelid was not painted.
ES’s doll has less desirable painted-on lashes. The best dolls had real hair lashes. Eyebrows, however, were always painted.
Longevity of the eye mechanism is an issue with hair lashes. If the eyeballs are drilled to insert fine hair into the eyeball, the protein in the hair can be highly prized by insects. Thus, these dolls tend to have a de-nuded, skinned look because their lashes have been eaten away. (Picture that if you dare.)
Another arbiter of value is the expression of the mouth. The best of all German porcelain dolls, such as ES’s, made by Simon and Halbig, has a pouty, yet sweet small mouth.
See the marking on the back of the neck, indicating the model, and the structure of the face. This doll has the marking ‘4000’ with a star shape enclosing a “PB,” one of the best models. From these markings, we can determine the year of manufacture, 1909.
Notice the rosebud delicacy of the smile. This is a most desirable mouth because this doll does not have a full cheeky smile. (Boy dolls occasionally were allowed to have such a smile, but not girl dolls.)
Now there are open mouth smiles and there are closed mouth smiles. Open mouth smiles enable the viewer to behold teeth if you are lucky enough. Because realism was much prized in turn of the century dolls, open mouth with teeth was a premium. A doll can have too many teeth, considered ‘genre’, portraying country bumpkins or guttersnipes.
A Respectable amount of teeth is four. Two up and two down, and in reality because the mouth was so small that’s all it could hold. On the best dolls these teeth were not painted onto the lips but the lips were molded around a dentrice holding a small set of little porcelain teeth. (Another reason I'm haunted by dolls.)
ES, take the higher value characteristics of your grandmother’s doll: a porcelain head with human hair in good blonde condition, a jointed composition body, blue sleep eyes, painted lashes as opposed to human hair lashes, (if they were extant and un-eaten those would be considered classier), a pouty half-smile, and four teeth. All these add up to a fine doll from the first years of the 20th century.
Notice that the doll looks like a 3-4 year old. Baby dolls were not considered all that respectable yet.
The final value characteristic is the size of the doll; this one is 26 inches, a large size when you consider the size of a little girl. Families sometimes showed their wealth with a purchase of a doll bigger than their daughter.
What would make the doll more valuable would be the existence of the original clothing from 1909. These dolls are not all that rare because, surprisingly, many still survive. The value of your doll is $400.
Certified appraiser for estates, inheritances and trusts.
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart's column appears every week in the Salon & Style section of the Santa Barbara News Press. Email her your questions and high-resolution photos at ElizabethAppraisals @ gmail.com
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