Ask the Experts: WWI German U-Boat plaque carries $500 value


LET-Q I have an old plaque. It states on the front, “Made from the ballast carried by the first submarine to cross the Atlantic Ocean.” The date in the cross is July 16, 1916. The metal states, “U-Deutschland Paul Konig Kapiyan.” It is 6 1/2 inches high, 4 1/2 inches wide and 1/2-inch thick. Any information/appraisal will be appreciated.Plaque1fw

— J.R., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Ask the Experts letter "A" You have a very interesting and historic item in this plaque. U-Deutschland was one of seven U-151 class submarines built in World War I by Germany to be used to get through the British blockade. It was successful, making two trips in 1916. The first began June 23, 1916, and the Deutschland reached Baltimore on July 9, 1916 (this date varies in different accounts by a few days), arriving with 700 tons of valuable cargo.

It was damaged on the second trip and spent a week in New London, Conn., for repairs in November 1916. The U.S. was not yet involved in the war. Capt. Paul Konig wrote a book about his merchant submarine, “The Voyage of the Deutschland.” At the end of the war, the sub was taken to London and put on exhibit. Later, in 1921, it was dismantled.

The plaque could come from materials obtained at any of these stops, but because of the propaganda value it had for Germany, and the style of the medallion, it most probably was made in Germany. You notice it states that the sub carried the ballast but not that it did so on the first trip. There was no ballast on this trip, so it was either on the return or later.

As a World War I collectible connected with U-boats, it should be worth at least $500 or more depending on the sale venue.


LET-QWhen my mother passed away, we found this Nippon vase among her things. It is in mint condition — no chips anywhere. The vase measures 6 1/2 inches tall, 3 inches wide at the top and 2 1/2 inches wide at the base. The mark on the bottom says: (curved) “hand painted.” There are two wreath-like leaves with an “M” in the center, and the word “Nippon” (curved) under the “M.”

The painted flowers are a light peach color. You can actually feel the roughness of the paint 42FAfwon the vase. The handles are decorated with raised paint also. There are strange-looking leaves painted around the neck of the vase. The vase is dirty, but we have not dared to clean it as we do not want to hurt the paint.

Anything you can tell us would be very much appreciated. We did find that it might have been made between 1904 and 1941. We have seen one vase that was shaped like this and had the same type handles but it had a scene of a sailboat, not flowers. The asking price of that vase was $200.

— J.O., Concord, N.H.

Ask the Experts letter "A" Your vase was made by Noritake between 1904 and 1921. Nippon, which means Japan, was used until 1921. Noritake began in 1904. The M in the wreaths is the mark of the Morimura Brothers distributing company in New York.

The ground is a pale green; the painted flowers are a peach color as you say. The leaves do not show in your photos. This was a typical theme, one of many, of Noritake during this time. Many had the type of vertical handles you describe.

You indicate that the vase is in perfect condition. As such, an appraisal of this item shows it is worth $125 on the market.

About our A.I.A. appraiser: Dr. G. Marchelos is an honors graduate and certified appraiser of the Asheford Institute of Antiques. Additionally, Dr. Marchelos has a PhD in history, is a professor of antiquities at the University of Alabama, and is a nationally recognized appraiser working for both private and public institutions across North America. Dr. Marchelos is also a well established antiques dealer, operating both in the U.S. and Europe.