ANTIQUES AND COLLECTING: Trial vase pieces can have modest value at auction

Each of these Ming Tree vases sold separately at a Humler & Nolan auction. The blue gray vase sold for $489, the light blue vase for $431, and the turquoise blue vase for $401. (

Art pottery is made by a single talented artist, a group of designers and artists who share the different steps, or a large company that has expensive machinery, men who make the molds, throw the clay and manage the hot ovens, and many talented designers and artists. Trial pieces are made that are eventually destroyed or sold after the final design has been determined.

In 2016, an auction at Humler & Nolan, a now-closed Cincinnati auction gallery, sold three very modern looking vases. The three “Ming Tree” vases, introduced in 1949, were auctioned each with a different trial glaze color. The blue gray vase with yellow and pink coraline-like foliage sold for $489, the light blue vase with pink and green foliage for $431, and the turquoise blue vase with white and green foliage for $401. They are all marked with the words “ROSEVILLE U.S.A.” in printed letters.


Q: I have about 25 Nancy Drew mystery books that I got in the 1960s. They aren’t in the best shape, but I was wondering if they are popular collectibles. I’ve seen them along with the Hardy Boys in a lot of thrift stores.

A: Amateur sleuth Nancy Drew, along with her companions — “tomboy George” and “plump Beth” — started solving crimes in 1930 in the “Secret of the Old Clock.” The books are still popular. They were created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer as the female counterpart to his Hardy Boys series. They were ghostwritten by several authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Vintage Nancy Drew books cost $8 to $10 each in thrift stores and can still be bought new in bookstores.


TIP: Check the screws holding shelf brackets to the wall. Every time you add a collectible, you add weight. Shelves may break from the strain.



Ridgways plate set, earthenware, hand-colored, horse-themed vignettes on center inside fluted band, flattened border with gold rim, stamped “Ridgways Old Ivory Bedford Ware/Made in England,” 10 inches, 20 piece, $250.

Tole tray, metal, two tiers, painted scene, figures on stone steps, woman drawing water, leaves, scrolls, reticulated rims, arched handle, England, c. 1900, 16 x 17 inches, $365.

Brass firewood bucket, hammered and incised decoration, raised crest with plumed top and scrolling leaves, lion’s head masks and ring handles on sides, three hairy paw feet, England, 1800s, 29 x 26 3/4 inches, $820.


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