Q: I inherited this Dresden piece from my parents and have not been able to find out anything about it. It is in very good condition with the exception of a tiny chip on the crown on top of the coach and the whip is missing from the driver's hand. Anything you can tell me about it, or its value would be appreciated.
A: The first clue is the word "Dresden," which we must assume is a name printed on the bottom of this piece. This would indicate that this coach and four horses was decorated, painted and gilded in the city of Dresden, Germany.
In the 18th century, the manufacture of hard paste, Chinese style, porcelain was first made in the town of Meissen, which was then just 14 miles outside the city and is now part of the modern city of Dresden. But while some of the finest European porcelain was made in Meissen, none was made in Dresden, which was essentially a decorating center.
This leaves the question of who made this piece and when. It is our belief that if this piece is marked it would be either with a crown over an "N" or a capital "S" with a sideways "X" drawn through its midsection. The crowned "N" would be for E. Bohne of Rudolstadt, and the "S" with the sideways "X" was a mark used by A.W. Fr. Kistner (August Wilhelm Fridolin Kistner) of Scheibe-Alsbach, which is located in Thuringia, Germany.
Our money is on Kistner because we found one of this company's coaches with four horses that is almost exactly like the one in today's question — if your piece is about 25 inches long and has the phrase "Voiture de Marriage de Napoleon 1er" (essentially "Marriage coach of Napoleon first") inscribed on the base.
Napoleon's crest is upon the door and the figures inside the coach should be representations of Napoleon and Josephine. It is thought that coaches such as this one were made circa 1900 or just a tad before, and they were manufactured in some quantity (in other words, they are not particularly uncommon and can be found in various sizes and configurations).
We now need to address the damage you reported. The first item is the missing whip in the driver's hand and our research reveals that this fragile appendage almost never survived, and we could not find an example where the whip was still in place. What we did find was that this "whip hand" sometimes held reins.
As for the chip, it can be easily repaired and does not greatly affect the overall value. Most of the Dresden coaches we found had much more damage than those present on the example in today's question. At auction, this piece should fetch $500 to $750 and retail in the $1,000 to $1,500 range.
Q: I realized that I own an August Moreau lamp titled "Innocents." I would appreciate more information about the piece.
A: Actually, we would like a little more information, too. We do not know how big the lamp is, or how it is signed and where. We do not know how you found the title of this work. But we have our suspicions.
Twelve years ago, a reader wrote to inquire about her Auguste Moreau lamp, which was 47 inches high from base to the top of the shade and weighed in at a respectable 34 pounds. She also reported a label on her example, "TL-1005 Moreau Innocents An Authentic Reproduction of an original French Bronze by Moreau c. 1825."
This is incorrect on one major point. There were a number of Moreau family members who were sculptors, such as the father, Jean-Baptiste Moreau, and his three sons, Hippolyte, Mathurin and Auguste. This particular piece was initially created by Auguste Moreau, who was born in Paris in 1834 and died in 1917, making the 1825 date impossible.
The reproduction in today's question was probably made in the 1960s, and we doubt that it was made from solid bronze. We suspect the material may well be bronze plated over white metal. Looking at the color we are reminded of the baby shoes that countless doting mothers sent off to be bronzed for posterity during the 1940s, '50s and '60s.
We should also mention the piece has several titles other than "Innocents" or "The Innocents." The image is of a young boy whispering in the ear of a young girl, and the piece is sometimes called "The Secret," "Whispering Children" or "A Confidence."
In our original article, we discussed the notion that most people who bought lamps wanted a pair and that single lamps are not desirable items in the current marketplace. But as we revisit this subject, it occurs to us that this Moreau lamp is from the 1960s and was probably intended to be a statement piece that stood apart as a focal point in a room.
The second time around, we are hit by how this may have been a piece that was meant to stand alone. It may very well have been viewed as an updated sculpture that also provided its own spotlight. Alphonse Moreau was very much a proponent of the art nouveau style, but this "authentic reproduction" introduces varying colors and textures to the piece Moreau never envisioned.
The piece implies a certain amount of sexuality (oh, those 1960s!). The piece has become a little too French rococo, but this just makes it more interesting in a way. For insurance replacement, value this lamp in the $400 to $500 range.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques.