Ask the Experts: Antique cast iron garden decor may be worth $350



LET-QI have this antique flask that I am not able to find anything about. I got it from a friend of mine, and it came out of his grandfathers trunk. That’s all I know about the history of the flask. It is approximately 5 1/4 inches tall and 2 3/4 inches wide. It is a glass flask with a leather covering over the top half of the bottle. It has a mold line around the middle of the glass and the mouth of the bottle is some type of metal.


Antique Civil War flask.

The bottom half of the flask has a removable metal cover and the cap that covers the mouth is also metal (feels like lead). The threads on the cap and top are very fine. On the bottom of the metal cover is:  W.T. F. & Co.

That is all I know about the flask and any help you can give me would be sincerely appreciated.

— P.M., Jasper, Ala.

Ask the Experts letter "A" Your flask was made by W.T. Fry & Co. in Philadelphia during the Civil War, most being made in 1863. It is a Civil War Military Flask made with a pewter cap and a glass body covered on the top with leather. Specifically, they date from October 20, 1863.

Your flask is rough and has several issues. This will lower its value on the market but it is still an item a beginning collector would want until they could upgrade the condition of this particular item. If in good condition it would bring $125 to $150; as it is, that amount would be lower: about $50 to $60.


LET-QWe received this pair of vases as a wedding gift in 1965 and wonder what they are worth. There are no markings on the bottom. They appear to be made of china (thin porcelain) with some light penetrating when held up to light.

antique vase

Possible cased glass or ceramic vases, circa 1960s.

— R.F., Santa Fe, Texas

Ask the Experts letter "A" You sent one photograph, and although very clear, it would be better to see the pair of vases in the flesh. The reason is there is the possibility you have cased glass vases, or ceramic ones as you believe. The answer on which would affect the market value. Having said that your vases are very tall, unblemished from the photo, and about 50 years old. They are probably from Japan, but if there is no mark we cannot be 100 percent sure. They just have that artistic appearance. They are very well executed with realistic and natural designs for the blue birds, foliage and snow. In a shop, these would be priced at $250 to $300, but this can vary from region to region throughout the country.


LET-Q We were told this was a chestnut roaster when we bought it in 1998 for $49.  It’s about 9 inches high and 13 inches long (from man to man).

There is no lid but looks as if there should be one. There are no identifying marks on it except for what looks like an “M” on the bottom of the round basket. It is all cast iron, in fairly good condition with the exception of some rust on the legs of both men. Does it have any value other than that of an unusual piece?

— S.M., via email

antique garden decor

Antique cast iron garden decor item.

Ask the Experts letter "A"Your item is not a chestnut roaster. These usually had a brass pan, pierced lid and long wood handle. Sometimes they were iron or steel. There is another item called a chestnut urn, but they were sheet iron.

Instead, your item is for the garden for flowers as a decorative piece. These were typical of Mexico, Central America and South America and are still found on the grounds of old hotels and haciendas. As an example, there are several in Morelia. This garden décor piece is in excellent condition and on the market today should bring $300 to $350. It would be worth more in the Southwest and is a crossover item, with collectors of iron and garden both interested in it.


LET-QI have a clear glass plate commemorating President Cleveland, but I could find only one example online — it’s in the Brooklyn Museum. I contacted them, but received no response.

I’m curious to find out if it’s worth anything at all. In other words, is it a yard sale item or something I should sell online? Thanks so much for any information you can give me!

— S.T., New Jersey

antique collector plate

Pressed glass collector plate commemorating presidency of Grover Cleveland.

Ask the Experts letter "A" Collector plates in hundreds of categories have been popular since the 1800s and even before in smaller numbers. U.S. Presidents were a logical category, and these are still issued and collected to the present. Many are found at antique malls, thrift stores and flea markets in large numbers at moderate prices.

Your plate is early, so it commands a higher price. It is pressed glass issued for Cleveland’s inauguration either in 1884 or 1892. From the design, which is similar to others such as President Grant, your plate was most probably made by Campball, Jones & Co. of Pittsburgh. If so, your plate is from 1884 because the business burned in 1891. After 1885 it was owned by someone else.

Its early issue is balanced in price by having fewer collectors in all categories seeking Cleveland items. No chips or flea bites can be seen from the photos, so it is assumed to be in excellent condition. If so, it would sell for $40 to $50.

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.