The smart collector: If it's old, it's not necessarily valuable

2013-06-30T00:00:00Z The smart collector: If it's old, it's not necessarily valuableDanielle Arnet Tribune Media Services The Smart Collector Arizona Daily Star

Q: Any info on my vase marked, "Made in Japan"? It seems to be clay and is 11 1/2 inches tall. Note that the surface is not smooth.

A: Our reader is on the money. The surface on a pottery vase seen in photos sent is pebbly. Imagine the skin on an avocado; that's the texture and color. Then add as decoration an incised and painted butterfly plus several mums.

Before 1891, when the McKinley Tariff took effect, Japanese ceramics for import did not require a backstamp. For a time after 1891, "Nippon" was the used mark. It was dropped in 1921.

But marks were used unevenly, and some pieces were exported with "Japan" or "Made in Japan" marks. Still others remained unmarked.

From 1921 to around 1941, most ceramics for export were stamped "Japan" or "Made in Japan." The "Occupied Japan" and "Made in Occupied Japan" marks date from 1947 to 1952. Through that info, we know that the reader's vase dates from 1921 to 1941.

But, as often happens in collecting, age does not mean quality and/or value. The most valued pieces from that period are art deco wares made by Noritake. By contrast, much "Made in Japan" ware is crudely made and decorated.

Similar vases have sold recently at auction for $35 to $125.

Q: I have about four cases of Coca-Cola. They are full collectible bottles from Super Bowl XXX. I want to sell. Any info?

A: Super Bowl XXX was in 1996 and involved the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. It was played in Tempe and the Cowboys won.

When it comes to popular memorabilia, a check with eBay, the world bazaar, can be helpful. We found 35 listings offering Super Bowl XXX Coke memorabilia. Full marked single bottles posted sell for 99 cents to $2.99 each. A six-pack cardboard bottle carrier (is that what you mean by "case"?) was posted for $2.99. A filled carrier listed at $39.99.

Pickings were a lot slimmer on the completed sales link. One six-pack with carrier sold ($21.99), as did several Coke banners from XXX. The biggest sellers were individual Coke bottles marked Dallas Cowboys. Apparently, Cowboys fans are the ones that most often buy team memorabilia.

I suggest eBay to sell Super Bowl XXX memorabilia. That's where die-hard team/Bowl/Coke memorabilia hunters shop.

Q: I inherited what I assume are silver-plated floor lamps. There are no marks. They were given to my mother by a good friend in Caracas, Venezuela. My aunt wonders if they were made by Cartier, as the woman who gave them to my mother was very wealthy.

A: The lamps seen in an image sent are contemporary torcheres.

The reader adds that the donor had a complete house renovation in the late 1970s; I suspect the lights may date from then.

The ideas of silver-plated floor lamps and Cartier are not possible. The jeweler did not make lamps, and the surface is almost certainly a chrome plating.

Enjoy your lamps for what they are.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.

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