Trade unions played a crucial role in establishing Labor Day as a holiday. "Union Made" has long been a point of pride for American industries, as in this sign advertising Sweet-Orr clothing, which sold for $7,380 at a Morphy auction. Talk about the value of hard work! The sign celebrates workers as not just the makers of the clothes, but as the brand's clientele.
The story goes that James Orr returned from the Gold Rush without gold, but with a business idea. Having seen firsthand how easily prospectors' work clothes were damaged, he persuaded his nephews Clayton and Clinton Sweet to join him in starting a company to make high-quality off-the-shelf workwear.
The Sweet-Orr company started making overalls in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., in 1871. By the 1880s, it had an iconic advertising strategy: Representatives would hold events challenging groups of six men to play tug-of-war with a Sweet-Orr garment, showing the clothes' resistance to tearing. This was supposedly inspired by feedback from customers claiming that their lives had been saved by the strength of their Sweet-Orr clothing. This strategy soon made it into the company's logo and stayed there.
This sign, depicting such a tug-of-war, dates to about 1920. Although the original New York factory has closed, the Sweet-Orr company is still operating today.
Q: Can you tell me something about the maker and value of my platter marked "Walbrzych, made in Poland, A.D. 1845"? It's white with bunches of roses and has gold trim on the edges. It's 11 inches by 6 3/4 inches and is in perfect shape.
A: Carl Tielsch started a porcelain factory in Altwasser, Germany (now part of Walbrzych, Poland) in 1845. The Tielsch family left after the town was occupied by Russian troops at the end of World War II. Some German workers remained and continued to operate the factory. It was nationalized in 1952 and became Walbrzych Table Porcelain Plant. In 1992, it was privatized, and the name was changed to Table Porcelain Works in Walbrzych S.A. In 2007, it became Porcelain Factory Walbrzych S.A. The factory closed in 2012. The mark on your dish was used from 1952 to 1992. A 13-inch platter in this pattern is listed online for $20.
Q: My father's estate had three small silver trays, one with a lid (but the lid fits on all of them), that say "made in occupied Japan." As he was in WWII, I'm sure that this is something he picked up along the way. They also have the stamp "Amerexware" on them. I am curious to know if they are worth anything other than the silver value.
A: There is little information available about Amerexware. The mark "Amerex" also appears on tableware and cameras made in Occupied Japan and on some Japanese electronics made later. It isn't clear if it is a brand name or if it means the product was made for export to America. There are a few references to an Amerex Trading Co. in Japan that was owned by Americans and associated with the Sogo Department Store in the 1950s.
Your trays appear to be silver plated. Silver plate has very little silver value and is difficult to sell. However, your trays may have value as Occupied Japan collectibles. The label "Occupied Japan" appears on ceramics, silver, toys and other products made in Japan during the Allied occupation after World War II. To collectors, this label is the most important part; in fact, Occupied Japan products are often displayed upside down at shops and shows so the label is the first thing you see. Silver plated trays marked "Occupied Japan" tend to sell for about $20 each.
Q: I inherited my grandfather's collection of early American pressed glass. He had over 100 pieces, of various patterns; i.e., Wildflower, Westward-Ho, Daisy and Button, Queen's Crown, Frosted Lion and many more. I am not a collector, and I would like to sell these beautiful items. I don't know how to go about doing that. Any suggestions?
A: Pressed glass, also called pattern glass, is a popular collectible. Pieces are usually inexpensive, but rare patterns by known makers can sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Pressed glass sells well online, at general antiques shows and at small local auctions, but if you are planning to sell the entire collection, you may want to find an auction that specializes in antique glass. Collectors' clubs can help you find more information and possibly connect you with buyers. The Early American Pattern Glass Society (www.eapgs.org) is a good place to start. Or look for a glass club in your area. There are many listed in the Business Directory on Kovels.com.
TIP: Keep your collection of glassware away from the speakers of your sound system. Heavy bass and high-pitched sounds can crack the glass.
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers' questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallerykovels.com.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
Tole tray, oval, black, red and yellow flowers in center, gilt Greek key rim, England, late 1800s, 24 by 30 inches, $55.
Toy dog, Molly, mohair, sitting, brown and white fur, swivel head, plastic eyes, stitched nose, red ribbon around neck, squeaker, Steiff, 7 inches, $95.
Daum vase, Daffodil, molded flowers, yellow and orange heads, shaded green ground, flared, pate de verre, signed, 10 by 8 1/2 inches, $300.
Jewelry, pin, Bakelite, School Days, ruler, red chain with four dangles, black pen nib, globe, miniature blackboard, red pen nib, 3 1/4 inches, $370.
Mahjong game, tiles, counting sticks, red case, sliding panel opens to five drawers, gilt animals and clouds, brass hardware, two top handles, 6 by 6 1/2 inches, $510.
Fountain pen, Patent Scientific Ball Bearing Pen, 15K gold, case, John Whytwarth, England, early 20th century, 5 inches, $530.
Pottery vase, Santa Clara Pueblo, globular, short neck, black glaze, sgraffito, stylized animals, red accents, signed, Emily Tafoya, miniature, 2 inches, $660.
Cabinet, mid-century modern, two drawers over false double front drawer, graduated dark to light brown, next to cabinet door, light brown, metal, Raymond Loewy, 29 by 41 inches, $1,665.
Silver vase, openwork, allover repoussé flowers and trellis, flared rim, round base with monogram, cobalt blue glass liner, marked, Wise & Son, 12 by 6 inches, $1,920.
Quilt, patchwork, eight flower sprays, red flowers and buds, green leaves and stems, scalloped edge, red trim, 89 inches by 76 1/2 inches, $2,560.