This month’s collectibles give us a glimpse of how much American taste in material goods has changed over the last 100-plus years. Perhaps the only piece now considered truly “collectible” is the old banjo, a musical instrument that has a long history in this country and can still be played today. The regional art, silverplate pieces, porcelain figure and glass centerpiece are all charming, but the market for such items is quite soft today.
— Carolyn Patten
Ralph Dille drawing
Q. This is a drawing done by Ralph Dille. I know he was born in 1860, and apparently did some drawings around 1920, per online information. It measures about 15 inches by 6 inches and is in excellent condition.
— D&J P., Southwest Portland
A. Your artwork appears to be an original monochromatic watercolor by the Ft. Wayne, Indiana artist Ralph Dille (1860-1937). One of the state’s most prominent early artists, he was known for his landscape and marine scenes. At auction, you might see a sale of $50-$80. A dealer specializing in the work of regional Indiana artists might price it at $300-$400.
Dobson 1867 banjo
Q. I received this banjo from my brother, who was an avid guitar and banjo collector in Nashville, Tennessee. I have shown this to music stores and they feel it is valuable. The silver tag reads “From LIIC or LHC and DBG” The wood engraving reads “Martin Brothers proprietors; Dobson’s patent; July 10, 1867, New York.” It is in excellent condition, with one little stain on the head where fingers would be, due to a lot of use.
— N.S., Gresham
A. This is a five string banjo designed by Henry C. Dobson in 1867 and distributed by Martin Brothers of New York. As performers, teachers and banjo makers, Henry and his four brothers were famous for promoting the instrument and making it popular. Old Dobson banjos are relatively rare today. Thomas Dawson, pricing consultant and musical instrument appraiser for A&S Estate Sales in Portland, tells us this might sell at auction for $350-$450. At retail, the asking price might be $700-$800; more if the banjo is in excellent condition with original parts.
Silverplate teapot and buffet caddies
Q. I have this old silver teapot from my family, along with some interesting silverplate items — I think they may be napkin holders. The teapot measures 11 inches high.
— A.L., North Portland
A. Your teapot is silverplate, by the Wm Rogers Mfg. Co of Hartford, Connecticut. The “800” mark is the pattern number, which tells us the piece was produced between 1938 and 1976 when Wm Rogers was part of the international Silver Company. The interest in silverplate has diminished significantly since the turn of the last century and you might see an auction sale of $10-$20. A specialty retail shop might price it at $50-$80, if it is in excellent condition.
Your set of three stands are actually buffet caddies, used for presenting flatware in a buffet line; one stand for forks, one for spoons, and the rack for table knives. While you don’t mention any marks, they appear to be made by Leonard, sometime around 1950 and probably were made in Italy. A vintage store might set a price of $30-$50 for the set. An auction sale would be less.
Russian bear figurine
Q. My Russian friend gave me this figurine many years ago, when my children were young. Can you tell me anything about it?
— L.D., Northeast Portland.
A. This is a handpainted porcelain piece made by the Lomonosov Porcelain factory in Leningrad around 1950-1955. The factory is now known as the Imperial Porcelain Factory and the city of Leningrad is now Saint Petersburg. This figure was created by E.I. Charushin, and the painting was designed by Ivan Riznich. At auction, you might expect a sale figure of $100-$150. A dealer specializing in Soviet-era porcelain might ask $250-$300 if is in undamaged condition.
About Today’s Collectibles
The values discussed for items featured in this column were researched by Portland appraiser Jerry l. Dobesh, ASA, an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers, with a specialty designation in Antiques & Decorative Arts. His services include providing appraisals for estate tax, charitable contribution, insurance scheduling and loss, and equitable distribution needs.
To find an appraiser, contact the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America. Estimates suggested in this Collectibles column are for general information purposes only and cannot be used as a basis for sale, insurance, or IRS purposes.
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