Q: I'm sending pictures of my German antique porcelain centerpiece, which measures 17 by 8 inches. On the bottom are two crossed arrows with the number "6298." Could you please date this piece and tell me who made it? Any thoughts on value would also be appreciated. It is in excellent condition and was acquired in the 1950s.
A: This is an extremely attractive porcelain centerpiece, and it would be visually spectacular on a festive dinner table or holiday mantel. The three-dimensional figures of cherubs and the Art Nouveau style lady are eye-catching, and the design suggests it was made at the turn of the 20th century or just a tad before — but that would be incorrect.
We understand why you think this may be a "German antique centerpiece" because the crossed arrow mark could be that of the Porcelain Factory Kalk, which was founded in Cologne in 1863 but moved to Eisenberg, Germany, in 1904. Kalk's crossed arrow marks are similar but Kalk never used a four-digit number under its insignia.
Instead, this symbol is one that was used by Arnart Creations/Arnart Imports, which was founded in 1953 and had an office on 5th Avenue in New York City until about 2001. If you will look closely at the bottom of your centerpiece, you will also see the remnants of a paper label that appears to be the sort of label that Arnart used in conjunction with the crossed arrows mark.
We found vague discussions of a company named Home Interiors & Gifts (HomCo) that also used the crossed arrows mark and it is said that HomCo's pieces can be differentiated from Arnart's by the number combination under the arrows and the fact that the arrows have four feathers.
The arrows on the piece in today's question have four feathers, but we believe this piece was imported into the United States in the 1950s by Arnart. We discount the HomCo references because this company is known almost exclusively for its figural production that ranges from porcelain flowers to Nativity images.
In summation, this centerpiece was made in Japan by an unknown company sometime in the mid to late 1950s and was imported into this country by Arnart Creations, which was probably responsible for the Art Nouveau style design. Most serious antiques collectors would brand this a reproduction and have little interest in it because of its age (or lack thereof) and origins.
But many of today's buyers are not so picky and are interested in the "look" rather than the substance. This more eclectic buyer would see this piece as large and attractive, both useful and decorative and might pay $75 to $125 to own it.
Q: I found this in my parents' basement and am not sure what we have. It looks to be a portion of a cannonball with markings that say "Battle of Gettysburg." Any information would be appreciated.
A: The American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg was horrific. Tens of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, and many historians consider this to have been the turning part of the war.
When the battle was over, the farms around the small Pennsylvania town were strewn with bodies and bits and pieces of ordnance — cannonballs plus various kinds of shot and bullets. The battlefield was also strewn with objects such as uniform buttons, belt buckles, canteens and other accoutrements worn or carried by soldiers.
The partial cannonball in today's question is beautifully engraved. The top line, which we cannot quite make out, is a reference to Gen. George G. Meade. The rest of the inscription reads, "in command in the Battle of Gettysburg 1-2-3 July 1863." We speculate that this piece of memorabilia might have been harvested near Meade's first headquarters at the Leister Farm on Taneytown Road, or his second headquarters at the widow Pfeffer house on Baltimore Street.
After the titanic conflict, the battlefield because a sacred site and attracted both tourists and veterans. Various individuals and enterprises in Gettysburg went to the battlefield and gathered relics, which they assembled into trays or mounted as desk sets or other remembrances to sell as souvenirs.
Perhaps the most famous of the scavengers/assemblers was John Good, who was a cabinetmaker with a shop on Race Horse Alley. We have also seen such items attributed to J.A. Good, Gettysburg Battlefield Novelty Works located at 30 N. Washington St. These may be one and the same enterprise with different business addresses, but the information available is a bit sketchy.
Associated with Good was someone named John Woodward, but the exact nature of the connection is unclear. Groupings of Gettysburg souvenirs were typically made for Grand Army of the Republic Halls, small museums, veterans and sightseers. It is hard to tell in this case who might have salvaged this shard from the field, but we do believe it was once part of a larger collection of artifacts assembled and retailed as a grouping.
The engraving on the shard does look like Good's work, which we have seen pictured on a much more complete cannonball that was said to have been engraved by Good in the 1870s. It is our understanding, however, that Good normally nailed his artifacts to boards, and the piece is today's question appears to have been attached with a screw. We think the engraved fragment is authentic and of interest to collectors as well as to the Gettysburg History Museum, 219 Baltimore St., Gettysburg, Pa., 1-717-337-2035.
Assigning a monetary value to this piece would be pure speculation, so we will refrain.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or e-mail them at treasuresknology.net.