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Q: I came by these steins in the 1970s when my landlady, an old woman from Germany, was cleaning out her shed and told me I could have anything I wanted. I took this box of steins. I've never seen anything like them. Any info?

A: Generous offer notwithstanding, the age of the giver and the fact that she was German does not boost value on the steins we viewed in images.

At first glance, we thought that the six pottery drinking vessels were mugs with handles. Then we looked at their blue transferware decorations of shields and scenic views with German city names and thought that maybe they were steins after all.

Andre Ammelounx, of The Stein Auction Co., online, an Internet auction that specializes in antique steins and like collectibles, set us straight.

They are steins, but minus their original lids. Noting that all have a darkened surface and that colors are off, Ammelounx figures that they have been in a fire. That, no doubt, is what happened to the lids. Any smart collector can tell you what that kind of damage does to value.

"The steins were probably made after WWII, and probably sold in souvenir shops in Europe and the U.S.," Ammelounx said.

Ammelounx thinks that they date from between 1950-1970. He added that, "If perfect with a lid, the steins would be worth $10 to $20 each today."

Stein collectors avoid modern products. And they want the best condition they can find in the old.

"Collectors of antique steins look for those that are at least 100 years old," Ammelounx adds. They draw the line at anything after WWII.

On the plus side, the reader's steins are suited to decorate a home bar. Perhaps they were bought as souvenirs on a trip.

The Stein Auction Co. holds regular Internet auctions. See the site for info and results. In December, TSACO sold an almost 10-inch-high porcelain regimental stein, circa 1906-1908, for $780. Another, from 1901-1903, brought $2,640.

Q: Can you help me ID this Haviland china that I inherited? I want to sell it. How do I contact collectors?

A: Seen in photos sent, the reader's china is marked "Haviland France."

I'm not one to scare a reader, but identification of Haviland china can be daunting, starting with the fact that factories in several countries produced china marked Haviland. Others used the Haviland stamp, each with a different backstamp. To top it off, there are more than 50,000 differing patterns of china with a Haviland mark.

Identification is so confusing that in the 1940s and '50s, Omaha housewife Arlene Schleiger developed a system of pen and ink drawings as a reference to differentiate between the patterns.

Old Haviland has a Schleiger number. In addition, many replacement services give their own names to Haviland patterns. You can see how people simply searching for a pattern name become confused.

We did, however, spot the reader's pattern as an undecorated Ranson blank. Translation: The factory or inventory name for the blank or shape is Ranson. If our reader checks online under Haviland France Ranson, she will find examples with prices.

As with almost all sets, serving pieces sell best. We found a covered casserole that sold for $85 on eBay and a 12.5-inch chop plate offered online for $69. Remember, those are retail prices.

To sell an entire set, try approaching Haviland replacement dealers. You'll find them online. Or try selling in batches in an online auction.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to 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.