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Antique Collectible

Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Large "Enchantment," 38 inches by 18.5 inches, 1926 Edison Mazda calendar; sold: $2,200. Photo courtesy of William Morford
So many areas in the antique and collectibles world. So many choices. What’s right for you?

These are questions I hear from readers. Take a look at the top 10 “hot” antique and collectibles listed for the month of November 1999 at The Internet Antique Shop at

1) Avon 2) Cookie Jars 3) Roseville 4) Beanie Babies 5) Dolls 6) Lamps 7) Furniture 8) Clocks 9) Noritake 10) Depression Glass.

Nothing excites you? The most common response I hear from experts at auction houses is, “Collect what you love.”

Sounds pretty simple, right? But it’s true. Whether it’s oak furniture, or 19th century stoneware, if you follow your passion, you won’t go wrong.

I’ve interviewed collectors over the years in virtually every field of collecting. Some fields are of little interest to me. But I notice it’s impossible not to get excited about a particular area when a collector is genuinely passionate about his collection. That passion is infectious and shows up whenever someone is doing what they love.

Once you discover that passion, educate yourself. Knowledge is your best ally in this field. Go to museums, antique shops, auctions, yard sales, flea markets and also read as much as you can. My library is full of picture books. When I’m doing a story on Mission furniture, I scan through auction catalogs full of color photos of Mission pieces and reference books with as many photos of the furniture I can find. I consistently refresh my memory about the variety of examples in a field.

When you know what’s available, you’ll hone in on something, and you’ll learn the good-better-best rule in that field by examining things firsthand. Take Maxfield Parrish prints as an example. Parrish was a prolific artist during ‘The Golden Age of Illustration’ from 1880-1930 and produced illustrations for more than 100 magazines. Parrish had a way of painting the color blue that would make you swear you never saw the shade before. The difference in value between a vivid-blue Parrish print, and a slightly faded blue print can be two-to-four times higher.

How would you know the difference? You’d need to really know Parrish blues, or purely by comparison. You would have to see his prints side-by-side. Without comparison, even a faded Parrish print can look pretty good. It’s these subtle distinctions that make all the difference in collecting.

Most collectors eventually specialize within a given area, and they get the good-better-best rule down flat. They know what the $3,000 Parrish print looks like, and they know what the $300 Parrish print looks like. But none of this happens over night. It takes time and energy. So, follow your heart with collecting and trust where it takes you.

Q. Enclosed you’ll find a photo of a seated porcelain doll, which originally came from my grandmother. She’s 10 1/2 inches high and has no marks of origin. Can you help value her? Mary Flanagan, Pittsburgh.

A. If you could peek inside a Victorian parlor you’d probably see a shawl-covered piano. On that piano would rest a “piano baby.” Her pose would vary, sometimes sitting or crawling. She might be lying on her tummy, or back. You might find her playing with her toes, or her hands would be outstretched. The doll might be nude, or wearing a gown. Usually the babies measured between 3-to-12 inches in height.

Heubach Brothers in Germany regularly manufactured these bisque beauties. Most of their dolls bore a mark. The company has been in operation since the 1800s. They specialize in novelty figurines and doll heads. Your doll is worth around $250 based on condition.

Q. I have a volume of "Collier’s Photographic History of the European War," copyrighted in 1917. It measures 16 by 12 inches. Any Value? Irene Carlson, Carnegie, Pa.

A. In addition to the European series, "Collier’s" also did a photographic history of WWII. Your book in good condition is worth about $20-25.

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