Art Deco, Rosenthal and Hugo Meisel

 

 

Meisel rosenthal blackamoor
A Circa 1937 Rosenthal “Blackamoor” by Hugo Meisel

I’ve always had a soft spot for Art Deco, particularly the Rosenthal porcelain figural groups of the period. It’s also a good place for Collectors interested in this period
because there it’s still possible to pick up some great pieces at relative;ly most prices at auction or even yard sales if you don’t mind a bit of digging.

The piece shown here is a good example it’s a  group by Rosenthal, marked “H.Meisel” for the original artist who designed this piece, Hugo Meisel (1887-1966). Meisel’s pieces were designed at the peak of the Art Deco period, he worked for Rosenthal in 1936 and 1937. Meisel also created pieces for several other porcelain works during the Deco period, such as Heubach,  Aelteste Volkstedter, and Schwarzburger. The Rosenthal company back stamp on this piece indicates this one dates to mark on this piece dates to 1937.

Like a great many other sculptors of the period, Meisel work depicted his figural groups and figures in active poses, almost like stop motion, freezing a moment in time portrayed , like can bee seen in this “Blackamoor” figure. Meisel did not limit himself just to human studies, but is just ans well known for his designs including \Horses, birds and dogs. Not all pieces by him are bargains, some of the larger figural groups have listed with auction pre-sale estimates in the $1000-$1500.00 range and consistently hitting those targets. There are still bargains to be had though, it still not that hard to find individual figures by Meisel like this “Blackamoor” sometimes selling at auction for less than $200.00.

Mike Wilcox is a Professional Appraiser and Consultant
who specializes in 19th Century Furniture & Decorative Arts

Modern Limited Edition Bronze

Julietta bronze
Julietta, issued in 1987 as a limited edition of 500

Sometimes the term Limited edition gets thrown around so much it’s regarded as not meaning much in terms of value. While this view might apply to things like Elvis liquor decanters or Collectors plates, there are many exceptions, like the bronze pictured here. It bucks the odds because it truly is a limited edition item and very high quality. This particular piece is based on the work  of Romain de Tirtoff (1892-1990), who was probably one of the first to market himself in the 20th Century by a singular nickname, in his case ” Erté ” after the way his initials “R.T.” sound in French.

Erte, who had been a major figure in costume and set  design as far back as 1915 until the 1930’s had been out of the limelight for a great many years when the the interest in Art Deco design was revived in the late 1970’s. He was approached in 1977 by Fine Art Acquisitions to produce a line of serigraphs and bronze figures based on his original designs, some of which he had originally produced for the well known Harper’s Bazaar magazine Circa 1915-37.

The first bronze figure was titled “Victoire,” making its appearance in 1980, just one of over 60 models to be offered. The one pictured here was titled “Julietta, issued as part of an edition of only 500 in 1987, which lists retail in Galleries that specialize in 20th Century bronzes in the $18,000.00- $22,000.00 range, but often being brokered for less than $6,000.00. Occasionally these Erte’s will go at auction for less than $1500.00 when mistaken for other mass produced “Limited Edition” bronzes from the  1980’s, so keep your eyes open for a bargain.

 

Mike Wilcox
Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

Lalique,Contemporary or Reproduction

hoffmanvaseOften if a “Lalique” item is not it’s cracked up to be there is often the idea it’s a ” fake” or appraised as a near worthless modern reproduction. In some cases this might be true, but it’s not always the case. Pieces like the one pictured are often described as “Unmarked, probably Lalique”, simply because it’s in the Art Deco style and is frosted or etched glass similar to the work of the famous french glass works of  Rene Lalique.

The truth of the matter is many of these “Unmarked Lalique’s” are not actually fakes or even repro’s. The reality is that most of them date within the same time frame as genuine Lalique glassware, but made by now lesser known makers looking to cash in on a popular decorating item of the time, “Frosted” or “Etched” glass. As Lalique’s work was highly popular, other companies were soon to follow their lead and produce similar items to grab some share of the market. A great deal of glassware similar to Laliques was produced in glass works in Czechoslovakia, much of it only bearing paper or foil labels. Similar glass was also made by other French firms as well, such as Verlys, Sabino and Etling.

The piece pictured here is not Lalique, or even French, it’s a Czechoslovakian piece by the firm of Heinrich Hoffmann (1875-1939) . Like much of the Lalique style glassware coming out of Czechoslovakia during the 1920’s quality was often very good, some very much on par with Laliques, or even better in my opinion. Hoffmann was a contemporary of Lalique’s, beginning like Lalique at the turn of the 20th century, producing Art Nouveau-style glass and branching off into Art deco after World War One. Hoffmann’s glass was marked, engraved an open winged butterfly marking or wheel engraved signature, but such markings can be easy to miss if you don’t know what you are looking for. In terms of value, the pieces by quality makers like Hoffmann can be quite high, even at auction presale appraisal estimates for a Hoffmann piece like this can easily run in the $300.00-$600.00 USD range.

Mike Wilcox
Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

“Unmarked Porcelain,Who Made It?”

 

A Paris Porcelain Plate
“Old Paris Porcelain” Plate

Unmarked 18th- & 19th-century porcelain is a puzzle to even long term Dealers and Collectors.  Attributing a piece can bring more one several conclusions the longer you look at it, each clue bringing either one step closer too an identification, or simply more confusion. It gets even more confusing if the design resembles a well known makers such as Meissen, Minton or Sevres.

There was one group among the potters of the late Napoleonic era until the Franco Prussian War |(1815-1871) in Europe who often did not mark their wares, located in Paris, France, home to several small porcelain factories and decorating shops producing  porcelain in the style of the Famous Sevres porcelain works.

A “Sevres” Porcelain Plate

Today these pieces produced or decorated by these smaller studios are called Paris or Old Pris Porcelain, after their location. These potteries located in Paris had to compete with the famous and well-established Royal Manufactory at Sevres, which enjoyed Royal patronage and financial support. They managed this by being quicker to adapt to new fashions in design and catering to the new and rising merchant class or the lesser nobility who wanted the status and look of Sevres porcelain, but at a price more pleasing to the pocket book.

Most reference sources indicate that as much as 70 percent of Paris porcelain made went without any company marks at all,  or as yet have not been identified and cataloged, which makes identifying these pieces today to a definitive maker almost impossible. Another factor that makes identification a problem is many of the decorating studios in Paris used blanks, called “white wares” made at Limoges or even by Sevres, but generally not marked with their origins until the late 19th century.

While the work of these Pareisain studios does not have the pedigree of those by Sevres, the quality of the decoration can be quite high, in some cases as good as any byt the big name porcealin makers of the same period. Myself, I consider Paris Porcelain to be quite a bargain, plates like the one shown often now sell at auction in the $150-$2oo range, compared to Sevres plates selling in the $300.00- $400.00 range.

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox& Hall Appraisers

Is it Genuine or Reproduction?

Genuine or Reproduction French Style Mantel Clock
A modern Italian Reproduction in the Style of a 19th century French Mantel Clock

“Genuine or Reproduction?” should pop up as a question any time an item that’s generally considered a bit rare begins to all of a sudden appear in place they don’t normally do, such as country auctions and yard sales in significant  numbers, one has to wonder.  If it’s an Antique looking one that a Collector or Dealer has never run into before in the last 20 years—one would be correct in assuming someone, somewhere is making reproductions.

Such is the case with this clock, if you saw its image online or in an auction catalog, you would have a hard time determining it it was genuine or reproduction, from images alone  it would appear very much like a 19th Century French Empire mantel clock. It’s actually a very late 20th Century reproduction, in the style of late 19th-century French mantel clocks.  The ones I’ve examined have German movements by “Franz Hermle”, a German company that dates back only as far as 1922 and is known for producing movements for other makers . Some of the clocks that have come across my desk like this one seem to have origins in Italy, with names such as Imperial or Lancicni

I’ve seen this particular clock in the last five  years sold as part of a matching garniture set that came with two matching candelabras.  or just the clock on its own. Of the ones I’ve run across, they were marked by two makers,  “Imperial” or “Lancini , some labeled “Made In Italy.”

This particular clock matches ones made in Italy by “Farbel Fonderie D’Arte”, which has been producing reproductions of 19th-Century style clocks since 1966.  As far as I’m aware they still make this model, along with a line of other reproduction 19th century French clocks.

While these are reproductions, they are very good quality and go for remarkable prices even at auction The good news is even though these clocks are not original 19th Century French examples, these Italian clocks are extremely well made and fetch high prices even at auction. This past year a clock very similar to this one, complete with the matching candelabra, sold for $650. Another back in February sold for $1,000. The clock on its own, without the candelabra, has sold at auction in the $350-$550 range over the last two years.

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

“What’s it Worth Mike” -Singer Sewing Machine…

 

childssinger
This Singer sold for $1400.00

Several times a month I get a call that starts like this, ” I have this Antique Singer sewing machine I got from my Great Grandma..” Quite often the tale goes on to add  ” A local Dealer tried to get it off  Great Grandma for a $1,000 10 years ago and she chased him out of the house with a broom.”  This is not to say these machines are worthless, only that some are worth  a great deal more than others.

Where the idea started that these old treadle machines had such huge value is anybodies guess, but it probably is the belief that because of their being over 100 years old they are Antiques and must follow the equation”100 years old X (Antique) = Valuable”.

The family stories that come with these machines to often inflates their age, rarity and value as well tales that generally include mention that some aged member of the family, a great-grandmother or great aunt, usually aged between 92 and 104 bought the machine used Circa 1894.

As with all things Antique or Collectible, the value for different models of Antique Singer sewing machines is based “Demand & Supply” rather than standard “Supply and Demand” equation used in the regular economy. The market for all Antiques differs from the regular economy for brand new items because the supply of an individual Antique item is always limited to how many were originally made way back when. When demand and value for an Antique item increases due to changes in Decorating or Collecting trends, there are no factories put into production to create new Antiques to fill demand.

This Singer Featherweight could sell for $450.00 at auction.
This Singer Featherweight could sell for $450.00 at auction.

In the case of Singer sewing machines, some models were made in such huge numbers their values remain relatively modest today, but some can go at auction for over $1500.00.

 

If you have one of these old Singer Sewing machines and finally want to know how old it is and what it’s worth, use our $4.95 Valuation option.

 

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

“What’s it Worth Mike?”- Oil Painting in a Dumpster

impasto boat
A “Starving Artist” type painting with an illegible signature

No item causes more angst than inheriting an Oil Painting and for good reason. It seems a couple of times a year someone finds a very valuable painting in a dumpster a yard sale or hung in Grandma’s spare bedroom and it receives a huge amount of Media attention.  This is probably why we field more questions about Oil paintings than anything else.

99 times out of a hundred though, the painting in question is what I call the “Starving Artist” painting.  Based on the large numbers of these I see every year every home in North America must have a couple stashed away, received as gifts or inheritances.

What I mean by “Starving Artist” painting are those heavy Impasto* paintings done in a semi-impressionistic style, the usual subject being most depict Parisian street scenes, Sail boats, cafes or crashing waves on a craggy beach, with or without a lighthouse and windblown fences.

Nearly all of them have single European sounding “first name” type signatures, such as “Alfonso” or “Ricardo”. In others the signature looks like a Doctors signature on a prescription form, virtually illegible, followed by the last two digits of a date; E.G. “74” ( for 1974, not 1874). It’s actually very common to find almost identical paintings showing up on online auctions sites that have different signatures.

I recall one time at a Roadshow type event I participated in where four people showed up with the same painting, but each had a different signature. While this seems confusing to the owners of these paintings, it’s really not all that unusual. These paintings were made to order as multiples of the same scene under for art wholesalers. These same Wholesalers have been staging traveling “Art on a Fence”, Gallery Bankrupcy” or “Starving Artist” sales in hotels and  conference centers since the 1970s.

These shows are usually heavily advertised as a “Limited time” only chance to buy “Genuine Oil Paintings at Dealer prices,” . Most also offer upscale framing options, which truth be told is where they make most of their profit. Each sale will have a wide selection of painted scenes, if a particular scene sells well, the wholesaler will order multiples of it for the next show, pulling a new one out as soon as the first one moves out the door.

Sad to say,  the signatures on these paintings are often just pseudonyms, the real artist’s name or even where they were painted remaining unknown. The origins of these paintings is anyones guess, and probabaly are churned out by “Starving Artists” at a piece rate of so much per painting.

Values for these paintings depends a great deal on the subject matter, the quality of the painting, size and the frame, but for the most part, at auction a lot of these paintings sell for less than $100, the frame being the bargain. Still, one should be very careful when buying or selling oil paintings, to erase any possibility of doubt, original artwork such as oil paintings or watercolors should be examined by a qualified Fine Arts Appraiser.

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*Impasto: In English, the borrowed Italian word impasto refers to a technique used in painting,
where paint is laid on very thickly, usually thickly enough that the brush or painting-knife strokes are visible.

 

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

“What’s it Worth Mike?”- Fayral Figurine

Fayral/Guerbe
Pierre le Faguay’s “Nude with Grapes” Signed Guerbe

“Fayral” is one of two pseudonyms (Fayral and Guerbe) that were used by the French sculptor Pierre le Faguays (1892-1956 ), stamped on his figurines.  The names “Fayral” and “Guerbe” were taken from the family names of his mother and his wife. Faguays, born in Nantes, France, he was famous for the “Stop Action” figurines of his dancers.  The illusion of movement, even when standing still was a very popular design motif during the Art Deco era, which was at its peak in the late 1920’s.  Faguays worked in a number of different mediums, such as spelter, bronze, ivory, stone, wood, alabaster and even ceramics, he also produced designs for the “La Stele” label Arthur Goldscheider figurines.

Faguays was a close friend of fellow sculptor Max Le Verrier (1891-1973), who established the Le Verrier foundry during 1926, which cast pieces for a number of well known of French sculptors of that era, including Faguay’s and those of Marcel Bourain. Le Verrier used his own alloy mix of metals which allowed exceptional detailing, which sets them apart today from others of the Art Deco period.  These originals, cast in white metal, have an artificial bronze patina, which is part of its original design. This original artificial patina must be left intact to retain its value as an original . This same advice also applies to any bronze or spelter figurine of this period, please do not polish them!

Foundry marking for Le Verrier

Pierre le Faguay’s originals cast by Le Verrier will have a foundry mark, unfortunately though the Fayral figures have beenknown to be recast from original molds and modern copies are still being produced. These reproductions have flooded the market, which has tended to depress prices of  even genuine Art Deco Era examples lacking foundry marks. It’s best if you intend to collect Art Deco figurines that you concentrate on pieces with a documented foundry marking, a provenance and a bill of sale stating what you’ve purchased is an original. In the current market at Auction expect to pay in the $1500.00-$2000.00 range for a genuine Fayral or Guerbe figure.

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Mike Wilcox
Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

“What’s it Worth Mike?”- Hunzinger Rocker

A Hunzinger Lollipop Platform Rocker

This Rocker is just one of several models of ” Lollipop” types made by the furniture maker George Hunzinger. Hunzinger was born in Germany in 1835, his family had been in the cabinetmaking business since the 17th century. Hunzinger, with his training in Cabinet making complete emigrated to New York at the age of 20, he was just one of many highly trained German cabinetmakers, including the Herter Brothers, emigrated to the United States for a better life away from the political and economic turmoil in Germany in the mid 1800’s.

 

An example of a Hunzinger Patent drawing

Hunzinger was one of first to take advantage of this very latest technology for woodworking, between 1860 and 1898 he was  awarded 21 for the multitude of  mechanisms used in the design and production of his furniture. A great deal of the machinery his company used to construct these elaborate pieces were also built to his designs. His work being very popular at the time spurred competition, his pieces  widely copied by other manufacturers during the last quarter of the 19th Century.

As with all things Antique, over time similar items tend to get generic labelling. Hunzinger’s name today has become a generic term as  “Hunzinger style.” used to describe furniture made with elaborate turned spindles, barley twist legs, metal sliding, folding and rocking mechanisms. Unlike a lot of other makers of furniture of this type that did not mark their pieces, genuine Hunzinger furniture is generally easy to identify.  Being such a stickler for protecting his designs and market share from his many competitors, Hunzinger made pieces are quite easy for us to identify today, because the metal fittings and often the chairs themselves are stamped with his name and patent dates.  As for value, in the current market a comparable Hunzinger Lollipop rockers today list at some higher end dealers for over $5500.00. Values for all Hunzinger furniture varies a great deal, to get an appraisal for yours Click Here

 

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

“What’s it Worth Mike?”- Oscar Bach Furniture

 

A signed piece by Bach Circa 1927/28

Determining ‘What’s it worth’ for Art Deco period pieces like this one can be a bit of a puzzle for Collectors because of the mix of styles used to create them. This one dates Circa 1925  and is probably a creation of the Designer Oscar Bach (1884-1957) or his former partner Bertram Segar.

As you can see, the style of these Bach/Segar pieces is unlike just about anything else at the time, the reason being unlike a great many other studios, Bach worked in a large numbers of styles from Gothic to Art Deco, often mixing styles to get the effect he was looking for.

Furniture by both are generally marked, but it often takes a bit of looking to find the markings. The Bach pieces were marked in a variety of ways, the early pieces with a medal that reads “OSCAR B BACH / NEW YORK / STUDIOS INC.” or a stamped marking that reads “OBASO-BRONZE / OSCAR.B.BACH. STUDIOS.” The pieces made after the split with Bertram Segar in 1923 can have a metal tag with the Artist’s name in script. On the later pieces dating from the 1930s they could be stamped “OSCAR B. BACH” and tagged “BACH PRODUCTS.”

a Bach signature mark from the late 1920’s

Bach is better known than Segar, he was born in Breslau, Germany in 1884, embarking on a career as a Metal Smith after completing his studies at the  Royal Academy of Berlin and the Imperial Academy of Art in Berlin. Bach further expanded his knowledge of  a wide variety of cultural, design and metal working techniques through his travels in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Bach emigrated to North America in 1911, opening a business in Greenwich Village Bertram Segar and his brother Max Bach, operating as Bach Brothers. The company moved shop to 257 West 17th Street and changing the company name to Oscar B. Bach Studios. The early Pieces by Bach were Decorative Arts pieces created for the upper class market of New York and Architectural pieces and hardware  custom made for estates.

By 1923, Bach had severed his ties with Segar and set up a new shop, Segar remaining at the old West 17th Street studio location . Segar continued to operate in the original location under the name “Segar Studios”, but from the pieces we have seen produced in his studio they appear to be variations on Bach’;s original designs or reproductions. Segar pieces were not always marked and at times attributed as “Unmarked Bach” today.

Bach Patent drawings

Bach patented some of his designs, likely a way of protecting his market from Segar, the table pictured above looks very similar to the top patent drawing from 1927 seen here to the top left . Bach continued to be involved in Decorative Arts pieces until 1941 and his work can be found displayed in permanent collections in the Minneapolis Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bach continued to work until his death at age 72 on May 4, 1957.

In terms of value,  prices vary quite a bit depending on labels and marks or if they can be attributed to Bach via patent drawings or provenances to the original owners. In recent sales values for signed Bach pieces are on the increase, a table matching the one above recently listed with an auction pre-sale range of $3000.00 -$9000.00, the last one we have a record for of the same model sold for $1500.00 in 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Wilcox
Wilcox & Hall Appraisers