2012-02-23 / Arts & Entertainment News

KOVELS: ANTIQUES

Pottery producer appealed to popular tastes

Weller pottery was first made in 1872 in Fultonham, Ohio, but by 1882 Weller had moved to Zanesville, one of the main cities where pottery was made in Ohio. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of decorative art pottery and florist wares were made at Weller Pottery before it closed in 1948. It was a profitable pottery because its products were designed in the prevailing fashion and appealed to buyers.

By the end of World War I, many pieces were being made in molds, then glazed in a variety of color combinations. Vases, wall pockets, jardinieres and other pieces were made to resemble real logs or frogs, and traditional vases were made with molded shapes that look like branches, animals, birds, flowers and even carved ivory. One very successful line, called “Woodcraft,” was made from 1917 to 1928. Each piece resembled a real log or tree trunk with raised birds, animals or fruit as extra decoration. The colors added to the illusion of real wood. The pattern is popular with Weller collectors today. “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2012” lists a 19-inch Woodcraft vase with a squirrel and owl for $960, an 8-inch wbv wall pocket that looks like a branch with berries for $173 and a 14-inch tree trunk vase with an owl for $325. oc Q: My husband inherited an unusual oak chair from his grandmother. Our children call it “the scary face chair” because the chair’s back is a carved wooden face that does indeed look scary. A label on the bottom says “Made in Dayton, Ohio, by Stumps-Barnhardt.” Please tell me how old this chair is and what it’s worth.


Woodpeckers are handles on this 8-inch-high Weller Woodcraft jardiniere. It sold for $76 last fall at Conestoga Auction Co. in Manheim, Pa. Woodpeckers are handles on this 8-inch-high Weller Woodcraft jardiniere. It sold for $76 last fall at Conestoga Auction Co. in Manheim, Pa. A: Your chair is called a “North Wind chair,” a style popular during the late Victorian era (1880-1900) into the early 20th century. The face, from folklore, was supposed to blow evil spirits away. Many U.S. companies made them. But take another look at the label on your chair. It says “Stomps-Burkhardt,” not “Stumps-Barnhardt.” Gustave Stomps and his brother Joseph founded a furniture manufacturing business, G. Stomps Brothers & Co., in Dayton in 1859. The company became G. Stomps & Bro. in 1869, then Stomps-Burkhardt Co. in 1890, when Richard Burkhardt was named vice president and general manager. The company closed in about 1928. Your chair was made during the 1890s. Today it would sell for close to $500 if it’s in excellent and original condition.

Q: One of our sons found an interesting bottle in the woods near our cabin. It’s a lovely green-blue color and is embossed “Dr. Kennedy’s/Medical Dis- covery/Roxbury, Mass.” We would like to know who Dr. Kennedy was, what the “medical discovery” was and when this bottle was made.

A: Donald Kennedy (1812-1889) was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States in 1833. Kennedy apprenticed with a currier, a person who works with leather, and studied medicine in his spare time. He began selling his “Medical Discovery” in 1848. A newspaper ad in 1854 claimed it was “the greatest medical discovery of the age” and that it was “warranted to cure every kind of humor (related to body fluids)” except “thunder humor.” It sold for $1 a bottle and probably contained a mixture of herbs and alcohol. Dr. Kennedy made several other patented medicines and became very wealthy. His son, Dr. David Kennedy, took over the business when Donald died, and he continued to sell the Medical Discovery until 1928. The value of your bottle in good condition with no stains is $100.

Q: I own a miniature metal building that has the words “State Bank” on the front. It’s about 8 inches tall. There are no other marks on it. I’d like to know what it’s worth.

A: Your bank may have been made by Kenton Hardware Manufacturing Co., which was founded in Kenton, Ohio, by F.M. Perkins in 1890. At first, Kenton made locks. It became Kenton Hardware Co. in 1894 and began making cast-iron banks and toys. At one time, it was one of the largest cast-iron toy factories in the world. Kenton Toys was a trade name used by the company. Kenton closed in 1952. Most Kenton toys and banks were not marked, and many have been reproduced. The company made several versions of the State Bank in different sizes. Some were made with the name of the bank in letters arched over the door, and some with the letters in a straight line. Some versions were japanned or painted. An original Kenton State Bank sells for about $400 to $600, depending on size and condition.

Tip: Never stack cut glass bowls. They chip easily.

— Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Florida Weekly), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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