Gene Kloss (1903 – 1996) Watercolor


We had a wonderful piece come in for appraisal today, a watercolor by Gene Kloss (1902-1996).  Gene started with etching while at at UC Berkeley, where she graduated in 1924. After marrying poet Phillips Kloss in 1925, she furthered her art studies at the CSFA and CCAC.
She continued spending winters in Berkeley after settling in Taos, NM in 1925. Nationally known for her etchings of Southwestern subjects, she also produced many watercolors and oils. Mrs. Kloss died in Taos on June 24,1996.
Most of Gene’s original work sells at Fine Arts auctions, where it’s rare for a watercolor by her to sell for less than $3500.00, works comparable by her to the one shown often go in the $5000.00- $7000.00 range.

Mike Wilcox at the Miami Antique Show has contracted our services to a number of other firms and insurance companies over the years.  In this video I’m partnered with for their Appraisal Days event at the largest Antique show in North America, the Miami Antique Show.

Along with their team of experts we verified every piece that came in for sale at the show was a genuine antique and participated in their Antique Roadshow event.

“What’s Worth Mike?” – Polyphon Disc Type Music Box

discplayer small
A small Polyphone Disc Player with discs

This Polyphon Disc Type Music Box is an odd piece to those that have never seen one,  looking for all the world like a “Steam Punk” record player. These disc type music boxes first began to appeared in the 1880s. Unlike the cylinder players which used cumbersome and hard to store metal cylinder to pluck the musical comb, a thin metal disc was used, this allowed multiple tunes to be played on the same machine, in some cases the machines had self changing mechanisms that could play multiple discs, one after another. The disc players were made for a relatively short time and most companies that produced them faced tough economic times when Edison’s phonograph was perfected.

Regina  disc player 27 inch
A Regina 27″ disc player

The largest maker of the disc machines was Polyphon, which made 100,000’s of these machines during the glory years of the Disc player, 1895-1905.  At its peak the firm employed more than 1,000 people, they diversified in later years, the company selling mechanical pianos, pneumatically-played pianos, phonographs and other items.

Today the smaller Polyphon players in need of some minor restoration with a selection of usable discs often sell in the $800-$1,000 range at auction.These were made  in a wide variety of sizes, from small tabletop machines such as the one at the top of the page, with discs less than 10 inches in diameter, to large free-standing units with 33-inch discs.


Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

A Brief History of Royal Doulton

Royal Doulton Lady Jester HN1284, designed by Leslie Harradine. Issued 1928-1938. Size: 4.25”H. Currently retails for $5000.00

Royal Doulton’s roots stretch all the way back to 1815 when John Doulton became a partner with a widow named Martha Jones. Her late husband had originally founded Lambeth Pottery with the foreman of the pottery, John Watts. The new pottery operation began operating as ‘Jones, Watts, and Doulton’, but unlike today the company was best known for water filters, stoneware bottles, sewer pipes and chimney pots. By the mid-19th century, the company entered into the production of Decorative stoneware that rivaled the best available at the time.

It was John’s son Henry Doulton who expanded the company in 1871 to include a line of Art pottery with the opening of the now famous Lambeth pottery. The Lambeth pottery allowed students and designers from the local art school to experiment and produce new designs for the company. The new line of Art Pottery was a great success, the brilliant work of Artists such as, Eliza Simmance, Florence, Arthur and Hannah Barlow,George Tinworth, George Butler, and Mark Marshall put Doulton to the forefront of Art Pottery on an almost industrial level.

The company entered into the fine porcelain market in 1882 after purchasing Pinder, Bourne & Co. of Burslem, England. Under the direction of John Slater, the company pushed into a new market, production fine quality decorative porcelain. It wasn’t long before Doulton was winning honors at major international exhibitions for their lines of figurines, vases, character jugs and plates. This exposure in international markets brought Doulton great acclaim and the patronage of the Royal family, the company given the honor of using the world ” Royal” as an addition to the company name in 1901 by King Edward VII.

It was during this period that the company began production of what it’s most famous for today, their popular lines of decorative “Series Ware,” such as the “Gibson Girl” plates, circa 1901, “Dickens ware” pottery, plates and figurines in 1911, the “Shakespeare” series in 1914 and the “Robin Hood” series in 1914.

The most well-known of these are the “HN” numbered figurines which the company still issues today. Their very first was designated HN1 “Darling” in 1913, The “HN” prefix for these figurines stands for for Harry Nixon, the head artist in charge of decorating the figurines. Other well known artists who worked on the designs and decoration were George Tinworth, Authur Barlow and John Sparkes. The huge success of Royal Doulton’s figurines brought about other lines in later years, such as the “Nursery Rhyme” series in 1930 and the popular “Bunnykins” line in 1933. The company continues to produce new lines of collectibles every year and annually expanding the production of new pieces for the HN figurines and the “D” series Toby Mugs.

We are currently working on revamping our popular line of online price guides so you, our customers can find out “What’s it worth” for any of the thousands of Royal Doulton figurines, Toby’s and series ware with a couple of clicks of the mouse. We will be updating this page with links to these services as soon as we have them up and running.

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

Antique Appraisals , Expert Appraiser Clues

This Rookwood pottery mark with its stamped roman numeral “IV” below the company mark dates to 1904. The stamped “CS” monogram in a circle is for the Rookwood Artist Carl Schmidt.

You might be intrigued when watching the Expert Appraisers on “Antiques Roadshow”, just how they can find so much information about a teapot or gravy boat simply by turning them upside down. It’s in the marks, the facts are markings that are stamped, painted or impressed on the underside of most ceramic items can tell a great deal than just its maker.

What the Appraiser is looking for is documented reference points that they have learned through years of research and study of ceramic items. What few people are aware of is that it’s not just the name of the company name, such as Royal Doulton, Sevres or Meissen printed or stamped on the piece that tells the story, but indicators used within the mark itself.  Dating pottery and porcelain is much like detective work, and the company stamp on its own only gives the appraiser a rough time line of when the company was known to operate, in some case the marking used for several years without change

Other factors, such as how it’s applied, the color of the mark or the numbered codes within the design can sometimes date a piece to the exact year it was produced.  Well documented companies such as Wedgwood, Minton’s, Derby and Worcester have all used a variety of date coding systems that using a reference book will provide an exact date of production.

Even without a reference of pottery/porcelain marks there are a few “Appraiser Tips” that you can copy or memorize to help you date most Ceramic items:

• Small, hand-written or symbolic marks tend to be pre-1800s.
• Kite/ Diamond shaped marks with ” Rd.” in the center are British and in use from 1842-83.
• Printed/stamped marks in colors other than blue tend to post date-1850.
• The use of the word “Royal” before a company name tend to be used after 1850.
• The term “LTD” or ” Limited” appear after 1860.
• The word ” Trademark” tends to be used after 1862.
• Registration numbers such as “Rd No.10057” begin in 1884.
• Pottery & Porcelain marked “Nippon” generally date from 1891-1921.
• “Country of Origin ” marks Eg. “England” date from 1891.
• Company marks in gold, or the mention of “24K Gold” generally date mid 20th Century.

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

What do Rd.Numbers mean?

There are many ways to place an estimate of a  date of production for factory-made pottery or porcelain. Most involve the stamped or incised marks used by the company over its history, other marks were the result of  international trade laws that are all well documented. Gathering these clues together is like solving a mystery, as each clue bring you closer to the answer.  One such marking can tell us a great deal from one quick look,  the “British Design Registry number”, or as some of us in the trade refer to it,  the “Rd. Number.”

Here’s an example of what a Rd. Number looks like:

Since 1884, the British Patent Office issued a registration number like this when a design or mark was registered.  As this is a British marking it also identifies in a glance that the piece is British.  The purpose of this marking was to indicate the design was protected, that any attempt to copy it would lead to legal issues with both the company that registered the design and the government that enforced it. The length protection for the design of the item depended on the material used in its construction ; Ceramic 9items such as pottery and porcelain were covered from piracy by competitors for a period of three years.

What the numbers actually tell us is the first year the design was registered for protection. In this  Rd. number above, “Rd. No. 56790,” indicates the mark was registered sometime in 1886.  As that the protection of such a marking was only good for three years, it would give us a date estimate of 1886-1889 could be reasonably accurate, but it should be noted the design could have been in production a great deal longer than three years. With the chart below you will be able to determine the earliest year of production for any piece of English pottery or porcelain that carries a Rd. number. It should be noted that Rd. numbers can also be found on metal and glassware items, this chart applies to these items as well.

What is it Worth? The Mustache Cup


Majolica Etruscan Shell & Seaweed Mustache Cup

When ever a new problem crops up, someone will find a way to make a profit of it by providing a solution. Such is the invention of the “Mustache Cup”. During the Victorian era mustaches of all sorts flourished, being a form of male pride, with some men going to extreme lengths to grow a perfect example. The problem that cropped up was in order to maintain and shape these manly growths, it required the use of a special wax. This created a problem for men with these hairy affectations, because any cup of steaming hot cups of tea or coffee melted the wax and dripped it right into the cup and leaving the mustache a drooping mess, and the drink far from tasty or refreshing.

The solution to this problem, the “Mustache Cup”, was invented about 1860 by a  British potter named Harvey Adams (born 1835), His timely solution to this problem was quite simple, adding a the ledge with a hole in it to allowed the passage of liquids, but shielded the mustache keeping it fresh and dry. The popularity of these cups lasted until the beginning of the First World War, when clean cut military faces replaced the Walrus and handlebar mustaches that were in style through much of Victoria’s reign.

A great many Moutache cups originate from Staffordshire, England, Staffordshire  being during this time the largest production center of earthenware and ironstone pottery in the world, but cups of this type were made all over Europe, North America and even Japan. The piece shown here is an American example of  “Etruscan Majolica” . Etruscan was a brand name originally used by the pottery of Griffen, Smith and Hill, of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, Circa 1879 and 1892.

Values for Mustache cups vary by maker, vintage and type, the most sought after being “Royal Commemorative” examples for Queen Victoria’s Golden (1887) and Diamond (1897) Jubilee’s and the Majolica varieties. Some rarer examples, even at auction can sell for over $400.00.  To get an appraisal for your mustache cup click here.


Dating tips for English Pottery & Porcelain II

diamondmark2This is the second of three Design Registry Markings . Deciphering  the 1867-83 mark is similar to the  1842-67 example that preceded it with some changes. The Roman numeral in the circle on top of the kite/diamond still represents the type of material the item is made from. EG. , it was used for metal, II for wood, III for glass and IV for ceramics. Note, though, that the four corners of this newer marking the codes have been rearranged. In this case  the number “9” in the top position below the material mark IV now indicates the day the registration was made. The number “9” on the left corner is the “Bundle number,” the letter “c” on the right side is now the date  letter for the year (see chart below). The bottom letter “R” is now the month code.
Using the chart below, it indicates that mark  above left is a registry date of August 9th, 1870. As with the original 1842-67 Kite/Diamond marking, this 1868-83 version is also used on metal and glassware items.

The date coding is pretty straight forward for both markings, with a few exceptions. For the first mark—used from 1841-1867—the letter “R” was used during the year 1857 between 1st and 19th of September. For the year 1860, the letter “K” was used between 3rd and 31st of December. For this second mark used 1868-1883, between 1st and 7th of March for the year 1876, the letter “W” was used for the year instead of the correct letter “D,” and the letter “G” was used instead of the correct letter “W” for the month.

Month Code Year Code (1868 – 1883)
A = December
B = October
C = January
D = September
E = May
G = February
H = April
I = July
K = November
M = June
R = August
W = March


A 1871
C 1870
D 1878
E 1881
F 1873
H 1869
I 1872
J 1880
K 1883
L 1882
P 1877
S 1875
U 1874
V 1876
X 1868
Y 1879