Ask Antique Trader: Imari discovered in thrift shop valued at $900

I found this painted spice bin in an antiques shop years ago. The dealer told me it was called “tole.” I have since used it as a decorative object in my kitchen. Now I would like to know about its history and value.
— M.B.T., Las Vegas, NV

Your 19th century spice bin is known as “tole” – basically it is painted tinware. Regardless of how it was finished it can be called “painted tin,” “tole” or “Japanned.”
In Colonial America, painted tin was imported from England. By 1750, American peddlers were traveling from town to town selling it. From 1790 to 1870 it was advertised as “Japanned-ware.” In good condition, yours could sell for more than $800 at auction.

I remember my grandmother keeping jewelry in this box when I was a child. It has a raised leaf design surrounding a circular portrait of a woman. On the bottom is an oval shaped design with a B & W in the center. It is some kind of metal, possibly brass or copper. What can you tell me about it?
— K.C., Shawnee, KS

From your photo you appear to have a Victorian, cast metal glove box with a celluloid cameo. They were popular from the 1890s to around 1910. Similar examples can sell in shops for several hundred dollars.

Q   I bought this colorful Oriental plate in a Florida thrift shop. It is 18 inches in diameter and has no marks. I paid $25. How old is it? Where was it made? Did I pay too much?
— H.C., Pompano Beach, FL

You have a collector’s eye and have discovered a mid-19th century Japanese Imari charger. Made in the Japanese town of Arita beginning in the 17th century, it was named for the port of Imari-the place from where it was shipped. The designs of textiles, chrysanthemums and landscapes were enclosed in Panels. It became so popular that by the 18th century the Chinese copied it. So did English potters such as Derby, Bow, Worcester and Chelsea. Yours could fetch $900 or more at auction.

Q  What can you tell me about the Czechoslovakian tea set with Spanish marks? On the bottom it says “Fabricada en Alp Choslovagia.”
— M., via e-mail.

Czechoslovakian tea sets and other pieces made of porcelain and semi-porcelain were exported to many countries, including Spain, which explains the markings on your tea set. In perfect condition, your set may be worth $100 to $125.

Anne Gilbert is a nationally syndicated columnist, author of eight antiques and collectibles books, and is well known for her lectures to business and professional groups. She is a member of the Newspaper Features Council and Society of Illustrators. She can be reached via e-mail at

• • • • • • • • • •

antique trader 2010 price guide

“Ask Antique Trader” submission guidelines

You can send your questions to “Ask Antique Trader” either by e-mail with attached digital images (preferred) or by regular mail with color prints (photos cannot be returned). In either case, be as detailed as possible regarding condition, dimensions and markings. As always, we’ll select the best examples to feature in our pages.

We love hearing from readers, so let us know what you like about Antique Trader and how we can improve the magazine. We cannot provide valuations of antiques and collectibles over the phone.

Ask Antique Trader
700 E. State St.
Iola, WI 54990-0001

Photo guidelines
Format: Save as jpeg or tiff
Resolution: 200 dpi or higher
Size: Original image must be a minimum of 4 inches wide and 4 inches deep.


*Great Books, CDs, Price Guides & More
*Share YOUR Thoughts in the Antique Trader Forums
*Check out our FREE Online Classified Ads
*Sign up for your FREE e-mail newsletter
*Visit the Antique Trader blog for the latest news and views from the Antique Trader editors
*Enter the Antique Trader Treasure Hunt Sweepstakes