So. Is it Cronin or Cameron?

Anyone who was alive in the 1960s must remember these pottery pieces. They were everywhere! The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P to most of us) gave them away as premiums to encourage customer loyalty. In fact, A&P was the first company to do such a thing!

The distinctive teal blue serving pieces included trays, covered handled soup bowls, tea pots and pitchers, and were produced mainly in the 1950s.

They’re almost always listed as Cronin Pottery “Blue Tulip” pattern, perhaps because the mark on the bottom was similar to a mark used by Ohio’s Cronin Pottery. But researchers now believe the pieces were made by Cameron Clay Products of West Virginia. Little is known about Cameron, but a website is being created to help collectors learn more.

Cameron Pottery tea pot, 1950s.

Cameron Pottery tea pot, 1950s.

Regardless of who made “Blue Tulip,” it’s a wonderfully retro line that has held up remarkably well. While they command higher prices than you’d find at a yard sale, “Blue Tulip” pieces are still quite affordable, making it easy to assemble a collection. And their sleek lines allow them to complement virtually any décor, from cottage chic to minimalist.

An article by Antique Trader says that Cameron Pottery pieces, especially art pottery, should be collected now.

“With most pieces selling for less than $50, and many selling for less than $20, the time is now – before it’s as well-known and sought after as McCoy, Haeger and Red Wing!”

Enjoy the hunt!

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Patrician (aka Spoke): The “everyday” Depression Glass Pattern

As with Federal’s “Petal” bowl, just about everyone owns an item in the Patrician or “Spoke” pattern, or knows someone who does.

Gene Florence says it’s so common, in fact, that people tell him they use their pieces every day. The larger diameter of the dinner plate (101/2”) could be one reason why.

Just four years – and a lot of pieces!

Federal Glass Company produced Patrician for only four years, from 1933-1937. Yet they made so many items that, in Florence’s words, they “saturated the market.” Plates were given away in sacks of flour, but Florence isn’t clear how the other pieces were sold.

Patrician is known for its distinctive central “spoke” surrounded by a lacy pattern and a triple design on the rim. The shape is pentagonal, with five sides that at first glance appear to be six!

Amber is the most common color, followed by green, then pink and crystal. According to Florence, green dinner plates are scarce, and it would be “impossible” to collect an entire set in crystal. Pink, he says, is possible.

If you decide to collect Patrician/Spoke, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The applied-handled pitcher in amber is difficult to find.
  • Check sugar lids for signs of repair – Florence says mint condition sugar lids are very difficult to come by
  • Saucers are harder to find than cups.
  • If you find a cookie jar – even without a lid – consider yourself fortunate!
  • Unlike with many other patterns, cookie jar and butter lids aren’t impossible to find.

Patrician/Spoke is a terrific pattern you can confidently use today (although it definitely does not belong in the dishwasher, and you should be careful of sudden temperature changes, since older glass was probably not tempered.) Replacements are readily available and relatively inexpensive, should one of yours come to misfortune. It’s a quaint style that would go exceptionally well in a shabby chic setting, or even with more formal “Americana” décor.

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Gold Plate. Gold Fill. Gold Wash. Confused?

I’ve always wondered about the differences in these jewelry terms, but not being a “jool,” I didn’t feel qualified to write an article about them.

Then voila! I stumbled upon this terrific article by Daye Salander of Daye Salander Antiques & Collectibles. Read and enjoy — and thanks, Daye, for allowing me to link to your blog!

Gold Plate. Gold Fill. Gold Wash. Confused?

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Help! I’ve fallen for something and I can’t identify it – UPDATED

About a year ago I came upon these pieces in my local thrift store.

A Middle Eastern salad set? I can't seem to find examples of it anywhere.

A Middle Eastern salad set? I can’t seem to find examples of it anywhere.

My first reaction was that they were spooky in a haunted house kinda way.
My second reaction was that I had to have them. I thought the set was pricey at $50, but for some reason I REALLY wanted them.

Well, they were mysterious then, and they’re even more mysterious now. I have no idea what they are, who made them, when they were made, or if they’re junk or priceless antiques.

The only clue is that a faint “Vereco” appears on the bowls. Vereco is the name of a mid-century French glass company whose pieces are collectible. But the only examples online are plain colored glass.

A faint

A faint “Vereco” can be seen at the bottom of this bowl.

Do you think I could find even one cruet like these?


I was able to find one or two similar bowls here and there, but nobody seemed to know anything about them. And I found a bottle that was larger, with a different shape but the same filigree. I was, however, impressed with the asking and selling prices!

This bottle, with a similar filigree, came from an estate - but nothing's known about it, either. Photo courtesy of The Little Treasure Shop, Etsy

This bottle, with a similar filigree, came from an estate – but nothing’s known about it, either.
Photo courtesy of The Little Treasure Shop, Etsy

I can’t stand it when I have a mystery on my hands!

I asked an antiques appraiser. He thought the items were made by individual artisans, perhaps in India. The filigree also looks like Russian tea glass holders (Podstakannik). And a photograph on Flickr has tags that say they’re Swedish vintage items.

A perfume bottle? Vinegar, to go with the cruets? Who knows?

A perfume bottle? Vinegar, to go with the cruets? Who knows?

At one point I thought they could have been from a 1970s Pier One Imports line, so I contacted the company.

Nope. Wasn’t theirs.

I even saw a similar bottle in an eBay listing for a $1500 antique voodoo box — yikes!

So they remain a mystery — French glass with a twisted wire overlay that could be Indian, Russian, Swedish, Middle Eastern, Hippie American or Early Voodoo Priestess!

And there they sit, on display in my hutch, giving off their wonderful haunted vibe. After all this work, I’m keeping them!

UPDATE: I found a cruet similar to mine at RetroDecoShop, an Etsy seller from Greece.

Greek-made cruet or pitcher.

Greek-made cruet or pitcher. Photo courtesy of RetroDecoShop

I contacted the seller, who says that these pieces were made in Epirus, Greece in the 1950s. Apparently there has been a 300-year tradition of performing this filigree work. Since 1900 Greek artisans would use bowls, ashtrays and other items from companies around the world and add their own metalwork by hand.
Mystery solved!

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Pressed and Cut Glass Were Never Meant to be Shabby Chic.

The year was 1907.
Oklahoma was about to become a state.
World War I hadn’t even begun.
Women weren’t allowed to vote.
The Titanic was nothing more than a design.
“School Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids)” was the #1 popular music hit.

And this bowl, in the “Homestead” pattern (technically #63), was made by Duncan & Miller.

Pattern #63 aka "Homestead" by Duncan & Miller, circa 1907

Pattern #63 aka “Homestead” by Duncan & Miller, circa 1907

It’s a glorious example of Early American Pattern Glass, which graced the tables of those who wanted the look of American Brilliant Cut Glass without the expense.

It’s a miracle that so many pieces like this have survived butterfingers, wars, earthquakes, fires, and countless household moves. Collectors eagerly seek them out and care for them to ensure that they’ll last another 106 years.

So you can imagine how we feel when we see these lovely antiques are presented as “shabby chic” décor, their stunning beauty covered over by “distressed paint” in trendy cottage colors.
They can be very pretty. But they’re no longer able to sparkle in the light, their bevels, stars, shells and buttons hidden behind garish makeup. There’s no acknowledgement of their noble history. Their pattern names and makers are ignored.

Imagine this 106-year-old Imperial Glass sugar, pattern #212, covered in green "distressed" paint and offered for sale as "shabby chic."

Imagine this 106-year-old Imperial Glass sugar, pattern #212, covered in green “distressed” paint and offered for sale as “shabby chic.”

I’d love to post a photo as an example, but I want to make an appeal, not embarrass any individual. 
Sadly, you can find plenty of examples if you do a search.

There is a lot of modern dreck that could be dressed up in similar fashion, and actually improved in the process.
The dollar store has countless “pressed glass” creamers, sugars, vases, cups and plates that might look nice gussied up in paint and gilt — and you can satisfy your inner crafter for a lot less money, as well!

But there is absolutely no reason to destroy a precious remnant of another, more elegant, time for the sake of a passing fancy. Like purpled glass or “refinished” furniture, far too many EAPG treasures are being treated like yesterday’s trash.

One day, sadly, they will become tomorrow’s trash. Removing the paint may not restore the original sparkle, and serious collectors want originals that are as perfect as possible.

There’s nothing wrong with “distressing” an object to create your own artistic statement. But please do some research before you begin, to make sure that you aren’t permanently destroying the work of another artist — one whose work has already stood the test of time.

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A Manhattan Cookie Jar? Don’t Be So Sure!

I’ve seen this cookie or biscuit jar advertised all over the place as Anchor Hocking’s “Manhattan.”

It sure looks like “Manhattan,” with its distinctive horizontal ribs, and it is pink — one of the original colors.

But it isn’t.

I first became suspicious when I saw that Gene Florence’s listing in his “Encyclopedia of Depression Glass” didn’t show any pieces with glass lids at all! Even the sugar doesn’t seem to have a lid. But everywhere I looked online, it was presented as “Manhattan.” It was driving me crazy. If it isn’t “Manhattan,” what is it?

Then a glass expert referred me to author Hazel Marie Weatherman, who lists this cookie jar as an Anchor Hocking pattern. It just isn’t “Manhattan.” And it technically isn’t by Anchor Hocking, either, since it was made under the “Hocking Glass” name.

The good news is that even serious collectors of “Manhattan” don’t mind incorporating patterns that complement it.
The rounder Hazel Atlas salt and pepper shakers, for example, are often preferred over the original squared-off versions. Many people also collect Hocking’s 1987 reissue, “Park Avenue,” because it is “Manhattan” with some slight differences.

Hazel Atlas Salt & Pepper Shakers. Photo courtesy of FabVintageEstates, Etsy

Hazel Atlas Salt & Pepper Shakers. Photo courtesy of FabVintageEstates, Etsy

“Manhattan” pieces aren’t terribly expensive, but the cookie jars I’ve seen come with impressive asking prices. I’m sure the sellers are simply misguided, because the jar does look like the famous pattern and would be a wonderful addition to a “Manhattan” collection.

Just know what you’re getting before you buy!

And enjoy the hunt!

If you love learning about antiques as much as I do, follow the blog so you won’t miss the next article.

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Vintage postcards: The “supreme expression of art” (Louis Daguerre)

These postcards fell out of a book when I was unpacking some boxes of glassware.

They looked really valuable. I mean, how many photographic postcards of World War I could there be?

Turns out, a lot of them.

Postcards have always been collectible, since they were first produced in the late 1800s. Since most people didn’t have cameras, postcards were the only way to capture the images of the places they visited. Postcard collecting lasted all the way up to World War II, and slightly beyond.
Children’s postcards were extremely popular in the early 1900s, when they were sold in sets of six cards. Parents, grandparents – anyone who travelled, sent them to the kids to show where they were, and what they saw along the way. The children often placed them in albums, helping them to survive to this day.

The eras of postcard styles.
Postcards can be dated by their style. I’ve listed the basic characteristics here, but this website gives you much more information:

Pioneer Era (1873 – 1898): The first privately printed souvenir postcards.
Private Mailing Card Era (1898 – 1901): The back of the card was for the address only, messages had to be written on the front.
Undivided Back Era (1901 – 1907): “Post Card” begins to appear on the back, which was still for the address only. Most picture postcards have a white space at the bottom or to the side of the picture where the name of the sender and a short messages could be written.
Divided Back Era (1907 – 1914): Postcards with a divided back, allowing for writing on the address side.
White Border Era (1915 – 1930): A white border was left around the picture during the printing process to save on ink costs, and the cards were often of poorer quality than earlier cards.
Linen Era (1930 – 1944): If you look closely at these cards, you can see a weave texture in the paper. Some were printed with a white border and other were printed “full bleed.”
Photochrome Era (1945 – Present): Photochromes are reproduced through a printing process, while real photo postcards were actual photographs printed on special postcard sized photographic paper.
Postcards come in all styles and topics.

Postcard of Cape May, NJ. Photo courtesy of Treehouse Antiques, Cape May.

Postcard of Cape May, NJ. Photo courtesy of Treehouse Antiques, Cape May.

You can find illustrated postcards depicting true love. Photographs of famous (and not-so-famous) cities around the world. Postcards of animals, flowers, hotels and resorts – even animals! And some postcards have been signed by the artist, making them just a tad more valuable.

So how much are they worth?
As a rule, just a few dollars each — that’s what makes them so much fun to hunt for and collect. The value of a particular card depends on several factors:
Size: Standard sizes are worth more than the larger “continental” size.
Signed: Cards signed by certain artists command higher prices.
Cancelled postage: Some cancellations make a card worth more.
And, of course, quality matters as with any other collectible. The closer to mint condition, the higher the value.

Where can you find vintage postcards?
Naturally, they’re available online. If you’re just starting a collection, buying online could be the best way to go. The sellers often provide far more information than you’d get elsewhere — enabling you learn as you go.

You can also find them at flea markets, antique shops and shows and specialty events (e.g. military expos, auto shows, etc.). Since they’re usually piled into boxes, you need to know what you’re doing before you pay good money for them.

Vintage postcards are a great way to memorialize the people, places and things we considered important. And they’re a wonderful category to collect, as well!

Enjoy the hunt!

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