This Old Thing: the value of the sign bursts with sweetness
Q I have this vintage plate from the 1940s that I’m trying to find out the value of. It is approximately 117 cm long (46 inches). The bottom edge is marked “Made in USA”. It is in fairly good condition with just a little wear along the edges. Hoping you can help. Thank you.
A. Advertising is a large and very active area of interest, and it can be difficult to find comparable examples. This led me to consult Justin Miller – an expert and co-owner of Miller and Miller Auctions in New Hamburg. He informed me that the market for ‘Orange Crush’ is hot. Collectors particularly love examples featuring the figure of “Crushy” – that little character hoisting the bottle. This mascot originated from a pose squeezing oranges contributing to the illusion of the 1911 trademark drink as being made from “freshly squeezed” oranges. Until 1930, pulp was added to it to promote this idea, which in fact was not the case. In fact, oil extracts “pressed” from the skin were used in the development of the formula – not pulp. Mr. Miller also pointed out that Orange Crush promotes the heavily ribbed dark amber bottle as protecting its flavor. He estimates that your sign is worth $5,000.
Q I inherited these wonderful porcelain figurines from a friend who bought them in New York in the mid 1940’s. When touched gently, the heads nod from side to side and the arms simultaneously move up and down in a juggling motion. The balls are attached separately. They are unmarked and measure 24 cm (9.5 inches). There is a slight crack on the wrist of the male. I would like to know something about their origin, their age and their value.
A. These are known as nodders – for obvious reasons. Originating in China, nods were once used in temple rituals to represent divine beings. These fun figurines were first made by the Meissen Company of Germany in the early 18th century. They were revived in Germany, circa 1890 (your pair) most likely by the firm of Conta & Boehme in the town of Possneck, Thuringia. Interestingly, this company disappeared in the 1930s and a New York distribution company, Ardalt, sold Japanese porcelain figurines, including a reasonable version of your figurines with very subtle differences from 1945. Yours are interpretation of the 1890s, and they are absolutely fabulous. . The damage looks minor and your pair of jugglers will perform for around $750 today.
Q This painting hung in my family home, and I believe it was a wedding present to my parents from very wealthy relatives. The canvas measures approximately 40.5 by 30.5 cm (12 x 16 inches). The signature in the lower right corner appears to be “CL Charles”. The gallery that professionally cleaned it for me thought the painting was European and that at one time it might have hung by a fireplace. Any information would be welcome. Thank you.
A. Catherine L. Charles is a listed artist who exhibited from 1928 to 1937 in Edinburgh, Scotland and was quite active until at least 1946. At the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh she exhibited at least eight pieces, and another was shown at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Other examples of her include a winter mill scene and a still life of a vase with roses. This interior scene of a professional kitchen conveys the moment with great interest – a happy chef, vegetables on hand, brass and copper pans, work tables, oil lamps, jars and glass bottles – all in an old stone-walled basement. The artist has wonderfully captured the effect of light shining through a window. The painting is housed in a very good and substantial gilt frame. There is little information about this artist and this work will be assessed on its inherent merits. Anyone interested in food preparation will be happy to own it. It is worth $1,250.