Sunday, January 25, 2015

Personal Effects Mango Forks January 2015

Question: Jerry, what kind of fork is this? Its mother of pearl with a sterling band. Both are marked Henckels near the tines. I've had them for over twenty years. I've been curious about them all this time. What are they worth? Thanks for looking at them. I enjoy the articles.

 Two Mother of Pearl handled mango forks.
Answer: I had to do a little digging on this one. I've always had an appreciation for silver flatware, but this one had me stumped. Finally, I found out what it was. Leave it to those persnickety Victorians to create something like this. You have, of all things, a mango fork. Cool isn't it? This was a fork that was designed for wealthy patrons, for a fruit that only the wealthy could afford. Let me tell you, this fork, its history and its manufacture is elusive. I could find very little on it... at first. If doesn't have, one single listing for a mango fork, then its hard to find. I did find a few, on other sites, that were obviously modern and fairly cheap. Nothing like these beautiful pieces. There was one interesting posting, on an antique forum page, that helped shed some light on these unique pieces. I found that many, many times, these forks are mislabeled as cake forks, snail forks, lobster picks, olive forks and chicken forks. I have no idea what a chicken fork is. However, they are all wrong, as I've already stated, this is a mango fork. Here's how it worked. A fruit knife was used to cut off the top of the mango, about an inch, you should just see the tip of the mango pit. The fork was held firmly in ones hand and driven into the top of the mango. You should pierce the mango pit, in that “joint” or ridge that goes around the pit. The central long tine went into the pit and the two shorter tines were anchored into the flesh of the fruit. Now stand your mango up on its end, holding the fork firmly in your hand. Picking up your fruit knife you scored the thick skin and peeled back that skin, revealing its orange meat. Still holding the fork upright, use your knife to slice off slabs and transfer those pieces to your dessert plate. Then you would use your fruit fork and fruit knife to consume your hard earned mango. Sounds complicated doesn't it? I think Carson the butler from Downton Abbey would have trouble with this one There was a reason to this madness. It separated the well to do folks from the down trodden. If you couldn't pass table etiquette, then it was likely that you'd not fare well in proper society and you would be shunned. I'm going to say that your mango forks date to the later 1890's to the early 1900's. This was a grand time for formal dining. Your forks were made by the J. A. Henckels Manufacturing Company in Germany. They are a well known blade and table ware power house and their knives can still be found in fine stores. I saw some all sterling mango forks and many modern versions in stainless steel. Yours are extra special with the pearl and sterling ferrels / bands I love the mother of pearl handles. You don't find this thickness of mother of pearl anymore. Value? In at a good antiques show I'd expect to see them priced at $50.00 to $60.00 each. Congratulations on owning the only mango forks I might see in my career. Maybe you should try your hand at using them at your next dinner party. Or maybe not. Thanks for sharing them with us.         

Monday, January 19, 2015

Everyone is an appraiser

Just the way it is: 

 I can't help but to be angry and sharp tongued over it. I had a dealer to tell me that she was always so miffed when she went to do an appraisal and, "They won't sell me anything!" Arghhh! That makes me pull my hair out. Good for them I say. You get what you pay for.  Both parties are in the wrong.  The dealer for ACTING as an appraiser and the client for not knowing who to call and when.  People are so vulnerable when it comes to selling property.  Even worse, when they don't want to sell but need information. Many a time a crafty person has toted off someones treasures for a pittance. All because they didn't make the effort to contact a knowledgeable appraiser.  Everyday people make this mistake, even in this day and age of the internet and hokey cable antiques shows. People ask their hairdressers or mechanics before asking someone who knows.  Often this leads to that antiques dealer looking to buy for a song. Or it could lead to a wonderful relationship with an honest and thoughtful dealer who will pay you top dollar for your stuff.  But do you know what top dollar is and why?

You know, just because I know how to debone a chicken, doesn't mean that I should attempt to repair your torn shoulder.   It seems as though that every dealer in the world is also an appraiser.  In a moment of total disclosure, I too, am an appraiser and a dealer.  However, there is a difference.  I know which hat to wear and when.  You see I have hats that I wear at certain times.  I have an appraisers hat, a dealers hat and a book dealers hat.  You can only wear one hat at a time.  It is not right morally or ethically to purchase the items you appraise. You are showing bias towards your client and being disrespectful towards the property.   Appraisers are advocates first for the property and for then for the client. Being an advocate is not the same as showing favor, its informing your client, you speak the truth, good or bad. The main role of an appraiser is to Identify, Witness and Value, period.   Don't get me wrong, there are collectors and dealers out there, who know so much, in a particular field, that its awe inspiring. I call on these folks often. Sometimes, they are the right person to sell to.  I've learned that there is a great difference between a collector and a dealer.  Just by the mere fact of economics, a dealer has to make a living.  Making a living in this business is hard, real hard, and every pinched dime and tweeked dollar counts. As clever as they are, I think that the majority of collectors and almost all the dealers, would have trouble laying out an appraisal for charitable donation, insurance coverage or the settling of an estate.

Anyone can appraise. But what they are doing is making an offer to purchase or making a value statement.  Appraisers look at several markets levels and we weigh a lot of variables. A good appraiser should ask why you want an appraisal. Because you see, there are different values to different intended uses.  Obviously, you don't want a fair market value if you're looking to have your items insured. You want a replacement value. This allows you, the owner, to go into a store and purchase a like, kind and similar item. Just be careful who you call when you need some advice on your property.  That's why my business cards say Unbiased, Impartial and Independent.  Fore warned is fore armed.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Little Pink Roses

Mean While Back At The Store: 

In this case its pink POPPYs 
 I shared this on Face Book a few days ago and wanted to feature it here. Also I wanted to elaborate on it some more.  When I worked at Graves Jewelers many years ago, at least once a month, some woman would come in and ask Miss Graves what her china pattern was. Usually without a hesitation, Miss Graves knew and often could remember several generations of who had what china patterns. If it was someone who didn't frequent the store often, Miss graves would ask what the pattern looked like.  Without a doubt, they always said, "Well, I'm not sure, but it had little pink roses on it."  So, it was a running joke, for all the years that I worked up there, when someone would ask what a china pattern looked like and we'd say, "It had little pink roses on it." It was funny to us as most china patterns had some form or little pink roses on it.  Fun times. 

I'm waiting of a lady to come in for me to identify her Haviland pattern and it set me to thinking. Bet you didn't know this? At one time porcelain manufacturers did really crazy things with their patterns. Lets say that there is a pattern called "Queen's Garden." Its heavy with pink & yellow flowers and a brown trellis. That's Queen's Garden. Then there might be Queen's Garden with BLUE & RED flowers & brown trellis. Lets call that QG1 ( Queen's Garden 1.) Then comes QG2 with Purple & Green flowers and a GRAY trellis. Then there might be QG3, QG4, QG5 and on and on. NOW, couple this with shapes. Queen's Garden might be in the Louis XIV shape or the Princess Louise shape or the St. Augustine shape and on and on. Cups can also vary within the SAME shape. All the time bouncing and switching back and forth. So you might find YOUR pattern, but you'll discover that the shape is wrong. There can be just 1000's of combos. Don't even gt me started on the hand painted or commissioned pieces.  Believe me,  if your great Aunt Mildred, way back in 1900, painted a chocolate set. That's it,  its the only one.  When Mary McKercher had her Havilnad booths in the store twelve or thirteen years ago. She hated the hand painted porcelains and refused to carry them.  Reason??   You couldn't match them.  Each hand painted piece is a one of a kind original. For most it doesn't matter too much, but for the scholar or serious collector, it can make you pull your hair out.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Querulous Quandaries: 

 This was a new one for even me. It happened just a few days after Christmas. 

Phone rings

(me) J. Sampson Antiques...... How can I help you? 

(man) Can you tell me it this is the right way to fix cranberry glass? 

(me) Fix it how? Is it broken? 

(man) No, no.  Its not broken, just faded. 

(me) Faded?

Now, get ready for it. 

(man) Yeah, I had someone tell me that these vases were cranberry but the color faded out.  If I was to soak them in cranberry juice it'd bring back that color.  

I'm stunned. 

(me) Sir, glass is an inert material.  You can't just soak it in a liquid and expect it to absorb that color.  All that will do is make them sticky. 

(man) Well shoot.  So I can't make them back to cranberry?

(me) They never were cranberry or they were a pale color of cranberry.  You can't make them anymore cranberry than you could cobalt or canary or emerald. 

(man) Canary?  

(me) Its the color of the bird not the actual bird. 

(man)  Well I never thought that!  Thanks for your help.

(me) Thank you. 

I'm thinking, "Well I didn't know.  You thought that you could soak clear glass in cranberry juice and make cranberry glass.   So hell, I thought that you were considering grinding up some birds to make yellow.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The New Years Wish

Just The Way It Is:

This is the tea pot that someone should have used. Instead it was sold in an auction. 
 Here is my New Years day wish to all of you readers. I wish for you all to use and enjoy the items that surround you.  You want to know something?   I'm a contractor. Didn't know that did you?   Yep, I'm a contractor. I sell materials for building and designing your home. I provide you with materials that will make you and your home happy, joyous, welcoming, inviting, warm, stylish and interesting.  The decision to make that happen, is up to you.  Remember,  I'm providing you with materials.  If a "real" contractor builds you a pool and you never get in it... who's fault is that?  I wish that everyone would appreciate the things that fill their homes.  You can have no idea of the times that I go into a house after a death and am meet this situation.  The family is usually in a state of chaos. Emotions run high and are tightly strung.  I reach over and select an object and begin to talk about it.  Simple enough.   There is always one person who will say, I've never seen that before?"   Is that their fault.?  No, its Granny's or Mom's or Cousin Lottie's.  They never enjoyed it, they never shared it with their family and friends.  They and myself don't know if it was a family heirloom or if it was bought at a yard sale last year.  Many of your are thinking, " Well, I don't have anything."   Really??   If you have a bed to lie in, a roof over your head, more food than you can eat in one sitting and a pair of shoes, you already have more than half of the rest of the world.  Yet, you have books that you've never opened. You have dishes that you've never eaten off of.  You have clothes that you've never worn.  Likely many of you have have rooms of furniture that you've never sat on.  Use what you have.  Enjoy it.  If you have so much that you can't possibly use it, move it on to someone else who has less than you do. You'll be blessed all the more for it.  Now, when you're really really ready to design your home call me. I've got the perfect piece for you.