Once in a while, an unfamiliar design shows up in an auction. At the beginning of this year, the Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches listed a tea set, two cups and a teapot with an Art Deco look and unfamiliar marks. The set was white with black and red blocks of color. The teapot had a vertical spout and rectangular handles creating a new geometric shape.
The mark solved the mystery once it was translated. Written on the bottom of each piece in the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet was the word that translated to "Supremist." Next to it was the familiar hammer-and-sickle logo. Some quick research told the story: It was an example of Supremist Art popular in Russia from 1913 to the late 1920s. (The teapot was dated 1923.)
The Russian who created the style claimed it to be superior to all art of the past. It was totally abstract, based on the circle, square and cross and the colors red, white and black. Yet something — the extreme look of the set, the high estimate of $7,000 to $9,000, the lack of demand for a teapot with cups instead of a set with teapot, creamer and sugar, or perhaps the Russian origin — kept bidders away. The group did not sell. At any auction, there can be valuable items that are passed over because the day's crowd is looking for something else.
Q: I have a piece of pottery with a printed mark of a ship on top of a globe. Below that there is a banner with some words I can't read. I can make out the word "England," There also is a banner above the mark, with some blurry words. Who made this dish?
A: W.H. Grindley & Co., a pottery in Tunstall, Staffordshire, England, used this mark from about 1880 to 1914. The pottery was in business from 1880 to 1960, when it was bought by Alfred Clough Ltd. The pattern name is on the banner at the top of the mark.
Q: I inherited an old teapot my parents said is from the 1800s. It's marked "James Dixon & Son" on the bottom. What is it worth?
A: James Dixon (1776-1852) began working in silver in Sheffield, England, in 1806. He worked in partnerships as Dixon & Smith in 1806, as Dixon & Son in 1823 and as James Dixon & Sons in 1835. The company made electroplated Britannia, nickel silver and silver-plated wares. Britannia is a pewter alloy made from about 92 percent tin, 6 percent antimony, and 2 percent copper. This name "James Dixon & Sons" was used as a mark beginning about 1851. A trumpet and banner were added to the mark in 1879. James Dixon & Sons became part of British Silverware about 1983 and production stopped in 1992. James Dixon & Sons teapots sell for $30 to $75.
Write to: The Kovels, c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. current prices
Prices are from shows nationwide.
RS Prussia, celery dish, pink roses, green leaves, light green ground, white handles, 13 1/2 by 7 inches, $30.
Bossons, wall mask, man, smiling, green hat, split mustache, 6 by 5 inches, $20.
Soda bottle, Catawba Club beverages, 8 1/2 inches, 120.
Mardi Gras parade bulletin, Krewe of Proteus, Zoraster, Walle & Co., 1912, 28 by 42 inches, $340.
Louis Vuitton trunk, monogram, garment bag, rolling, 54 by 22 1/4 inches, $365.
Cupboard, bonnetiere, Louis XIV, stepped crown, three-panel door, drawer, block feet, 86 by 28 inches, $400.
Paul Revere pitcher, yellow and cream lotus blossom border, taupe, handle, Saturday Evening Girls, 9 by 10 1/4 inches, $510.
Clarice Cliff vase, bizarre ware, pink flowers, magenta outline, blue ground, 4 1/4 by 8 inches, $615.
Tinware coffeepot, wrigglework, potted flowers, interlacing bands, about 1840, 11 inches, $1,830.