Q: I believe a set of two vases I inherited belonged to my great-grandparents, which would date them to the very late 1800s or early 1900s. I’d like to know more about them.
A: These vases were manufactured in the eastern district of Brooklyn in a community called Greenpoint, and it was there in 1880 that the Faience Manufacturing Co. was founded.
Greenpoint was a center for early American ceramic production with such companies as Greenpoint Porcelain Works and the Union Porcelain Works among others working there.
In 1884, English potter and china decorator Edward Lycett came to Faience Manufacturing and served as both the director and as a decorator.
Lycett introduced a new porcelaneous body, but his focus was on decoration. And on some occasions, his decorations could be quite elaborate and very fine. Some people consider Lycett to be the father of American china painting, and during his tenure at Faience Manufacturing the company’s products achieved a high degree of excellence.
Many of the better pieces were signed with an “R” in concentric circles surmounted with a crown. These are often referred to as “Royal Crown” pieces, but the “FM Co” mark on the vases in question suggests they were probably made during the company’s earlier period.
The three-dimensional molded flowers that decorate the pair of vases are in a style often associated with the Haviland factory in Limoges, France. They are fairly typical of the early work done by the Faience Manufacturing Co. The word “faience” generally refers to an earthenware buff color body that is covered with an opaque glaze containing tin oxide.
What it’s worth: Lycett’s more elaborate work at Faience Manufacturing can retail in the low thousands, but the earlier flower-encrusted examples sell for much less. If these pieces were near perfect and 8 to 10 inches tall, the pair would probably retail in the $600 to $800 range. But the damage on the rose could reduce that price by as much as half.
Porcelain card holders worth less than glass
Q: I have a set of place card holders for a formal table setting. They once belonged to an aunt who married a Cleveland millionaire in the early 1900s. They are glass and very fragile. They are engraved with the number “129” on the bottom along with the word “Germany.” There is also a blue crown over a shield containing three leaves on two of the pieces. Are they worth anything?
A: The place card or menu holders were not made from glass. They were made from hard paste porcelain, which simply means they are composed of two different kinds of substances: kaolin or china clay and petuntse or china stone. Most people just call this “china” or “porcelain,” and it is very different from glass.
Glass place card holders exist. They are often made in a plaque form and decorated with deeply etched or intaglio designs. These can be rather more valuable than the examples in question. Sterling silver and silver-plated place card holders also turn up, as do examples made by such famous companies as Herend, Swarovski, Baccarat and Lalique.
These pieces were made in the German town of Plaue, which is in central Germany. The manufacturer was established in 1817 under the name C.G. Schierholz & Sohn Porcelain Manufactory Plaue. In about 1900, the family was knighted and the name of the company changed slightly to Von Schierholz’s Porcelain Manufactory Plaue.
The marks on the place card holders indicate the pieces were made sometime after 1907, but probably before the 1920s.
The decoration is generally called “applied flowers.” Applied floral decorations, such as the ones found on the place card holders, are often associated with porcelain made in the town of Dresden. But many other German manufacturers located in a variety of other cities used the technique as well. The decorations are very delicate, and it is unusual to find examples that do not have chips to petals and petals that are missing altogether.We notice some of these problems in the photos, but nothing that is too unsightly.
What it’s worth: Unfortunately, a set of 12 of these would probably have a fair market value of less than $100, and we have found some sets that sold for much less.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques.