ANTIQUES AND COLLECTING: Company logos hold clues to product’s history

By Terry and Kim Kovel

This wooden cabinet with decorations and the name Sherwin-Williams is easy to date. A salamander is carved on the door suggesting a date before 1905 when the logo was changed. (Kovels)

Company logos are a quick message to customers that identify a product on a store shelf or in an ad on TV explaining quality or improvements. Very few have been changed but many have been updated for a more modern look.

The clothing, hairdos and changes in the style of the letters have made the Morton’s Salt girl or the Quaker Oats man look like contemporary customers, not an old-fashioned product. The logo showing the Morton’s girl holding an umbrella has been used since 1914 with at least seven changes, so that by her 100th birthday, she had a knee-length yellow dress and short hair instead of braids. Look carefully at old advertising collectibles and examine the changes to help determine age.

Recently a Sherwin-Williams cabinet used to store paintbrushes was sold at a Conestoga auction for $425. The salamander logo, first used in the 1870s, was carved on the door dating the cabinet as an antique. The famous world globe covered with dripping paint logo replaced the amphibian in 1905. It was used until 1974, dropped, then brought back in 1984. It is now sharing space with the company name in fancy letters. Online ads and new ways of selling have led to many vintage logos being updated or removed. Fakes often are made with the new logo, so collectors should check to see when the design was changed.


Q: My grandfather gave me a bowl he found at a rummage sale many years ago. It’s marked “Brentleigh Ware Made in England” on the bottom. It’s 11 1/2 inches long by 5 3/4 inches wide and 4 3/4 inches high. Can you tell me how old it is?

A: Brentleigh Ware is a trade name used by Howard Pottery Co. Ltd. in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. The pottery was in business from 1925 to the mid-1970s. Your large bowl may have been made to hold fresh whole fruit. Brentleigh Ware in not well known, and a large bowl might sell for $20 to $40.



Silver bowl, flared shape, rolled rim, cylindrical foot, figural bird sits on rim, bird with mother-of-pearl inlaid trim, marked Mexico, 2 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches, $55.

Jewelry, earrings, oval rutilated quartz drop, sterling silver stem and stud, Georg Jensen, 2 3/8 inches, $300.

Toy, vehicle, Martian Flying Saucer, Red Man In Space, bubble top, rotating space man inside, tin lithograph, friction, marked TN Japan, 6 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches, $740.

Bottle, McKeever’s Army Bitters, red amber, raised cannonballs and Civil War drum on shoulder, 10 3/8 inches, $3,570.


TIP: If you keep wicker furniture inside, be sure to have a humidifier or lots of plants nearby. The wicker will crack if too dry.


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