Our two most interesting and valuable items this month have French origins more than 100 years ago. Both can tell us volumes about the prevailing culture in France — and much of the European-dominated world — at that time. They are also exceptional works of art. Also evaluated are a nice art pottery vase from the former Bohemia, a midcentury chair of indeterminate origin and a novelty radio made in Los Angeles.
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Rosa Bonheur lithograph
Q. This is a Rosa Bonheur lithograph purchased in Europe. This is the only artwork I am unable to find in researching her life and work. I believe it is done in a stippling technique. It measures approximately 2 feet and 10 inches wide by 2 feet high. It remains in excellent condition, and I would greatly appreciate any additional information on it.
J.B., Southwest Portland
A. Your artwork is a mixed-method print that we attribute to Joseph Bishop Pratt (British, 1854-1910), after the original 1892 oil painting “Lion and Lionesses,” by Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822-1899). Pratt was an engraver known for his engravings of animal subjects after many artists of the day. His prints from this time often used a combination of etching, line work and mezzotint. Research tells us that he worked with Rosa Bonheur to produce a number of prints after her paintings and that he was her primary printer from 1883 to 1898.
In its description of Rosa Bonheur, The National Gallery in London wrote, “Bonheur lived unconventionally – she wore her hair short, smoked, and lived with her female companion, Nathalie Micas. To paint ‘The Horse Fair,’ she had even gained permission from the local police to wear trousers so that she could work undisturbed in the masculine environment of the horse market. ‘As far as males go,’ she said, “I only like the bulls I paint.” Despite living, and, as some critics claimed, painting like a man, she became the first female artist to be awarded the Legion of Honour in 1865 and, 30 years later, was the first woman ever to become an Officer of the Legion of Honour.” Your print is framed, and no information in the margins or the verso is available. However, it is likely that this originally had pencil signatures of both Rosa Bonheur and Joseph Pratt either in the margins or on the verso. At auction, you might see a sale of $300-$400. A dealer specializing in such prints might ask $1,500-$2,500 for such a print, if complete with full margins and in excellent condition and similar framing.
1918 Souvenir de France banner
Q. What can you tell me about this hand-embroidered banner from the World War I era? It measures 14 inches deep and 50 inches wide. It was a gift from my mother, but I don’t know where she acquired it.
A. Your banner was likely brought home by a veteran, at the end of World War I. Finely embroidered souvenirs made by French women were very popular with American soldiers, both as mementos of the events, and as gifts to family at home. Handkerchiefs, pillowcases and even postcards are the most frequently encountered items. Yours is the largest in dimension that we’ve seen, and based on your photographs, it’s an exceptional example. At auction, the most appealing smaller pieces such as pillowcases often bring $100-$200. Considering the large dimensions of yours, it might fetch $600-$900. A dealer specializing in World War I military souvenirs, or period decorations, might ask $1,200-$1,800 for such a piece.
Q. Curious if you can help with the history of this unique vase. Not entirely sure how long it has been in our family, but perhaps over 100 years. It was displayed in the family business, Zeller Chapel of the Roses, a funeral home in Portland, Oregon.
A.Your Art Nouveau vase is by the Amphora Porcelain Works of Turn-Teplitz, Bohemia (now Tronvany in the Czech Republic). Amphora was in business from 1892 through 1945 and was known for the high quality of its fine art pottery, especially those works in the Art Nouveau style. Your vase dates to circa 1894-1904. It is glazed and hand-detailed, with applied hops flowers decoration. At auction you might see a sale of $250-$350. A dealer specializing in period porcelains might ask $500-$700, if it is in excellent condition without damage or loss.
Q. I am very curious about this vintage rocking chair that was given to me by my grandmother in the 1980s. I have tried to find a similar chair for comparison but have not been successful. There are no distinguishing marks, nor manufacturer’s name or date. The chair measures: 29 inches tall, 35 inches long and 28 inches wide.
M.C., Lake Oswego
A. Your rocking chair likely dates to 1950-1955. We were unable to identify the manufacturer, but its midcentury, retro style is quite popular today among vintage collectors. At auction, you might see a sale of $200-$300. A dealer in vintage furniture might ask $450-$650 if it is in excellent, serviceable condition.
Q. This electric radio belonged to my grandfather and I’m hoping you can tell me the origin and value. The saddle is removable. Measurements are 12 inches long, 13½ inches tall.
L.B., Battleground, WA
A. Your radio is a Model Z477 by Abbotwares of Los Angeles, from their Trophy Ware line, and dates to circa 1947. Abbotwares specialized in novelty tube radios, and their horse radios are highly collectible. Your radio is of copper finished base metal and originally came with a red cloth saddle blanket beneath the removable saddle. Examples in excellent condition have sold recently for as high as $575 at auction. Dealers who specialize in vintage radios and decor might ask $400-$600 for this model if it were in excellent condition with the original saddle blanket. Your radio has considerable loss of finish. Because of this and the missing saddle blanket, it might fetch $100-$150 at auction.
About Today’s Collectibles
The values discussed for items featured in this column were researched by Portland appraiser Jerry l. Dobesh, ASA, an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers, with a specialty designation in Antiques & Decorative Arts. His services include providing appraisals for estate tax, charitable contribution, insurance scheduling and loss, and equitable distribution needs.
To find an appraiser, contact the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America. Estimates suggested in this Collectibles column are for general information purposes only and cannot be used as a basis for sale, insurance, or IRS purposes.
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