KOVELS: Amphora pottery often incorporates human and animal qualities | Community

Collectors use the names “Amphora” or “Teplitz” for art pottery made in the Turn-Teplitz region of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The best known and most elaborate examples are decorated with three-dimensional figures applied in an art nouveau style.

An amphora piece may appear to have trees sticking out of it, an animal’s tail wrapped around the neck or base, or a human figure standing at the edge or foraging for fruit on a molded branch.

Here, a stylized octopus appears to sit on top of the vase, with two of its tentacles forming side handles and the rest descending down the pear-shaped body of the vase. It sold for $6,600 at Morphy Auctions. Early Amphora pieces (made before World War I) are of higher quality, look more interesting, and tend to fetch higher prices.

Q:My uncle passed away recently. Among his estate items were about 100 Hummel figurines which were collected by my aunt. How much are they worth?

A:The German FW Goebel factory began making Hummel figurines in 1935 using the art of a nun, Berta Hummel, known as Sister Maria Innocentia or MI Hummel. The figurines quickly attracted collectors, but they did not begin to attract international attention until after World War II. American soldiers stationed in Germany after the war brought the figurines home as gifts. If you want to sell your aunt’s collection, check the markings on her Hummel figurines to see if they are among the first made at the Goebel factory in Germany. The first Hummels are the only ones with high prices. Most Hummels made after the 1990s don’t sell much unless they’re very big or tied to a major event or anniversary. Many are sold at auction, but the prices are low.

Q:I have a silver tray marked Sheffield. Is this an old Sheffield silver plate or a sterling made in Sheffield? How can I say?

A:Not all Sheffield City money is necessarily “Old Sheffield”. Old Sheffield is a specific type of antique silver plate. It was created in Sheffield, England in the 18th century by hand rolling thin sheets of silver onto copper. Sheffield silversmiths also made sterling silver coins and, from the 19th century, electroplated silver. Check the marks on your silver; EPNS (Electrolytic Nickel Silver) or EPBM (Electrolytic Base Metal) identifies it as electrolytic to give a metal part a coating of silver resembling sterling. There are a few tricks to identifying Old Sheffield. The most obvious is whether the silver is worn enough to show the copper underneath. (If this has happened, don’t have it replated! Modern replating will reduce the value.) If there is no visible copper, try scratching your fingernail under the edge of your platter. If it’s Old Sheffield, your fingernail will catch the edge of the silver foil. If your tray is engraved or monogrammed, blow on the engraved area to create a cloud. Old Sheffield will have an inlaid silver coin for engraving, and you can see the outline.

Q:I have a very old brownie box camera. On the side it says “No. 2 Brownie – Use #120 film.” Markings inside the camera read “Model F”. Can you give me a timeline as to his age?

A:Affordable $1 Brownie cameras were extremely popular since their introduction by Eastman Kodak in 1900, bringing photography to the masses. The Kodak Brownie revolutionized personal photography. The life of the No. 2 Brownie camera was from 1901 to 1935. The Model F was introduced in 1924 and sold until 1935, so your camera is within that timeframe. It was the last in the line of Brownies #2. Depending on its condition, we’ve seen the value of the camera typically range from $20 to $60.

Q:What is “soft porcelain”? Is it another name for porcelain or something different?

A:Bone china is a type of porcelain. It is made by combining clay and minerals with the ashes left over from burning animal bones. This makes it stronger, thinner and more durable than hard-paste porcelain. It must be cooked at higher temperatures and is more difficult to manufacture. It was first made in England in the late 1700s when European ceramists were trying to replicate Chinese porcelain. Some historians believe that bone ash was first added to clay due to a mistranslation of a French description of Chinese porcelain making. Although bone china was made earlier, the words “bone china” began to appear in markings on pieces in 1915.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer reader questions sent to the column. Send a letter with a question describing the size, material, and what you know about the item. Include only two images. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels’ posts. Write Kovels, (The Daily Times), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at

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