Hi everyone. How was your thrifting week? We came away with fewer things of interest, considering the number of stores visited. However, it’s always nice to be able to get out there. I even ran into a few “in real life” friends who I had no idea liked thrifting. Might try meet up with them on a future thrift run.
One of the great things about thrifting is that in addition to looking for vintage items for the shop, we can also look for everyday things we need around the house. We were in need of a stapler, so I had to grab this older Pilot #402 by the Ace Fastener Co. of Chicago. Nice, simple all-metal construction, and works great! I’m not sure if this would be something for the shop yet – I guess we’ll just use it for the meantime.
I’ve been passing up a lot of LPs designs lately – usually it’s due to condition or price. There’s a strict “less than $2″ mandate in place for the most part – though I keep breaking that rule. This nice Sam Suliman design on a cover for a Tchaikovsky record was the only item that came home with me from a recent estate.
This was a great find from earlier in the week. Rather rare to find these Russel Wright designed Knowles pieces around here. I’ve never seen them in thrifts, in fact. Actually, I believe these are difficult to find pretty much anywhere – the dinnerware lines weren’t very successful. From the RW collector’s books, it appears there were manufacturing problems, and the patterns (ours is called Queen Anne’s Lace) were too delicate and hard to photograph for catalogs. I’d found a single cup at the thrift first, which was unmarked. But I knew I’d seen the shape somewhere before (I thought it might be Eva Zeisel at first), so I searched around until I found the rest of the cups and saucers. The saucers had the Russel Wright Knowles stamp.
Being on the West Coast, we’ve encountered Pacific Stoneware quite a few times previously. Not to be confused with Pacific Pottery (as in Pacific Clay Producs), this was Bennett Welsh’s Oregon-based company. Their stuff still flies under the radar for the most part – there just isn’t a whole lot of value there yet. I still pick up nicer pieces, like this interesting conical windchime. I think it needs the string replaced, but it still has the terra cotta clanger attached on the inside.
M.A. Hadley is similar to Pacific Stoneware in that it often flies under the radar, and its value can vary considerably. Actually, the Louisville, KY company is still producing these distinctive handpainted items today. There are more collectors of Hadley, though, so we keep an eye out for pieces like this egg cup that are inexpensive.
This vibrant Peter Max for Iroquois China butterfly ashtray was a complete surprise. I’d only heard of other people finding his designs – had never seen them in thrifts myself. Peter Max might be better known for his groovy art posters and LP designs – if you see one of his designs, you’ll recognize the style right away. This is unfortunately another ashtray, but I relaxed my “no-more-ashtrays” rule for this one.
As usual, I’ve saved the (potentially) best and most interesting item for last. At the store where I found the Peter Max ashtray, I noticed this vase sitting up on the shelf. I picked it up, and then put it down, because it seemed at first like it could be a modern production.
However, something really nagged me about it… I think fellow pickers may know this feeling. It’s like an itch, a hunch, that something very unassuming might be worth quite a bit more. Some of our best items have been discovered in this way.
In the end, I went back to buy it… it wasn’t dirt cheap, and it seemed to have a bit of damage on the handle. But what I figured was that I’d already scored the Peter Max piece at such a cheap price that I could use it to offset the cost of this one if it wasn’t valuable. And after looking at it again, it definitely didn’t seem to be a cheaper, new production from overseas. It had the “finger rings” on inside and out, and didn’t seem to have any cast or mold lines.
When I got home, I immediately went to look through some of the California Pottery books that we have. I felt like I’d seen the shape before – I was thinking Bauer, Pacific, Gladding or maybe even Panama Pottery.
Well – I discovered almost immediately that this vase looked a whole lot like a Matt Carlton Rebekah vase for Bauer. In that case, it would certainly be a great find – I’ve seen Rebekah vases selling for $1500-2000…
However. I’ve got more than a few reservations about this vase. For one – I know that Matt Carlton pieces are absolutely NOT common. You just don’t walk into a thrift store and find a piece of Carlton Bauer sitting on the shelf. And I know that because they aren’t marked, (as far as I know) that it’s easy to misattribute pieces. The temptation is there – everyone WANTS to find something valuable at the thrift.
Also, even though the shape is VERY similar to a 10 inch Rebekah vase, and the base is unglazed and unmarked, similar to items that he was known for… I know that quite a few companies (and not only California ones) produced this shape.
The vase also has a slight “tilt” to the shape. Carlton was a master potter – and it didn’t seem like he would make a mistake like that. Hard to see in the photo, but one side is definitely a bit higher than the other.
Perhaps most concerning to me is the glaze. As far as I know, this multi-color yellow brown and green drip glaze doesn’t look at all like something Bauer was known for. I do know they used polychrome treatment in the early days, but this one doesn’t look anything like it. I think they also used multicolor glazes at times, but I’m not really familiar with those – I think a lot of those might’ve also been test pieces.
In any case – this vase is still a bit of a mystery. If you might know more about these type of vases, I’d appreciate if you could leave a comment. At this point, I’ve very much on the fence about whether this is authentic (we’re familiar enough with Bauer and actually run the Potteries of California website, but can’t claim to be experts). But it was a fun find either way, and definitely made the usual thrifting run interesting.
This post is linked up to HLA’s Flea Market Finds.
Did you find something cool at a thrift or flea market lately?
Please leave a comment here if so…