Ask Antique Trader: White earthenware would be clue of reproduction

Q I am curious about this large plate that was carefully wrapped in linen in the bottom of an old family trunk. It is around 13 inches in diameter. What is it called and does it have any value?
— D.T., Macon, Ga.

A The size tells us it is a charger, used to serve food. It appears to be a 19th century example of early American redware that was made into a variety of both utilitarian and decorative objects. This rust color earthenware had its origins in Europe and England. It was also made in America in the 18th century by the Pennsylvania American settlers. Reproductions were first made in the 1920s, ‘30s. They still are, usually in Mexico. Yours in a crisscross design in yellow slip could sell at auction for $250-$500.

Q I bought this Toby mug at an antique show many years ago. The dealer told me it was probably “Bennington pottery.” I paid $300. What is “Bennington pottery” and the value today?
— A.T., Boca Raton, Fla.

A The proper name for this type of ware is American Rockingham. It was made in Bennington, Vt., in the 1840s, then at East Liverpool, Ohio, as well as Pittsburgh and Baltimore. To add to the confusion little of it was marked. It was produced in about 100 factories around the country. Reproductions were and are being made in England and America. They are usually made of white rather than yellow earthenware. Check the unglazed bottom. If 19th century it can be worth twice what you paid.

Q In 1952 a neighbor who was a Titanic survivor gave me this ashtray. I was six years old. I have been told that the lead content of the glass shows it was made before 1930. Do you think it is authentic?
— E.L., Maple Valley, Wash.

A Researching your ashtray turned up some interesting facts. For the movie “Titanic” many props were made, including your ashtray. The prop sells for as much as $350. To find out about your ashtray write to: Artifacts Director, Titanic Historical Society, PO Box 51053, 208 Main Street, Indian Orchard, MA 01151-0053.

Q I have owned this pair of china vases for many years. They are 10 inches high, cobalt blue with engravings of a romantic couple on one side. What can you tell me about them?
— J.B., Colmesneil, Texas

A You didn’t mention any marks, however your vases are typical of those made in the mid 19th century, and known as Paris porcelain. They are known as mantel garnitures. The pair could sell at auction for as much as $1,200.

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

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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.

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