ANTIQUES AND COLLECTING: Decorative bottles are prized by collectors

By Terry and Kim Kovel


Silly as it may seem, milk glass can be one of many colors. It is an opaque glass first used in the 1800s and now prized in collections of barber bottles of the Victorian era. This 10 1/2-inch-high milk glass barber bottle with a colorful label under glass sold for $200. (Kovels)

Glass bottles were expensive packages for alcoholic drinks and other liquids, including many beauty products, by the late 1700s. But makers liked to give products a permanent label, not just a pasted, handwritten or printed paper label. So bottles were made with a thin layer of glass that was heated to cover the label and adhere it to the bottle permanently. Other less decorative bottles were made with the product name captured in the mold.

A label under glass couldn’t fall off, get damaged or become illegible, so they were favored by apothecaries, the drug stores of the past. Many of these glass-covered labels were handwritten with the Latin names of medicines using fancy style gold-leafed letters. Glass Works Auctions featured milk glass barber bottles in an auction that included this American circa 1880-1900 barber bottle. It has a shaker top and a label under glass with the name “W.L. Doremus, Bay Rum” surrounding the head of a girl in a colorful bonnet. Highest bid, $222.


Q: I inherited a set of International’s “Spring Glory” sterling silver flatware 14 years ago. There are 12 five-piece place settings and several serving pieces. I showed it to a dealer last year who valued it at $1,000. I need to know its current value.


A: International Silver Company made “Spring Glory” flatware from 1942 to 1996. Sterling silver flatware was a popular wedding present years ago. It’s not as popular today and, although the price of silver has gone up in the past year, sets of silver are hard to sell. It’s important to know if the value you were given is what the dealer thought they could sell the silver for or what they would pay you for it. You can check prices for “Spring Glory” silver flatware prices on silver matching services listed online. Replacements Ltd. lists a five-piece place setting of “Spring Glory” for $210 to $230. Matching services also buy silver flatware but will pay you a percentage of what they sell it for since they have to make a profit.


Q: Why do we say dinner dishes are made of china?


A: The story was part of my junior high school history lessons. Marco Polo brought “china” (a green colored pot) back from his explorations of China in 1260. Europe had only heavy pottery dishes, and “china,” the porcelain made in China, was lightweight, white, translucent and “fit for a queen.” It was one of the things that encouraged the king and queen of Spain to give Christopher Columbus money for his explorations in 1492.



Paper, valentine, mechanical, Rain or Shine, You Are Still My Valentine, boy in tan jumper, girl in blue and white checked pinafore, boy hands girl flowers as their eyes move back and forth, easel back, 1930s, 8 x 6 1/2 inches, $20.

Pin, love knot, 14k yellow gold, blue enamel flowers, center diamond, Victorian love symbol, c. 1910, 1 inch, $545.

Sailor’s valentine, seashells, flowers, triangles, oval, walnut shadowbox frame, 1900s, 16 x 19 inches, $2,640.


TIP: Three-dimensional valentines and valentines with movable parts tend to be worth more than other valentines.


Learn about the record-setting prices scores of items have brought in recent years in the new “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2022.” It is the ONLY antiques price guide that empowers collectors with the most up-to-date price information based on actual sales and market data. Available in stores and online, it makes a great gift.


© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.

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