Q This is a photo of a mechanism with a cast-in patent date of May 29, 1904. When pumped it does not move the shaft up and down, but makes the paddle revolve two complete turns and then two turns back. It works beautifully. When I was a youngster in Illinois, I vaguely remember churning being done on my uncle’s porch, but cannot remember if it was this mechanism they used. It can be fastened to a post or wall.
—W.R., Tucson, Ariz.
A You have a unique piece of Americana and something I haven’t seen before. It was obviously designed to ease the chore of churning butter and there were many types of labor-saving devices patented in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I think your piece is a production piece and perhaps something that could be ordered through a mail-order catalog. There’s no set value for such kitchen-related mechanisms but I wouldn’t be surprised if the right collector was willing to pay in the $100-$200 range.
Q My mother-in-law would like to know any information you can provide about this painting. It is 28 1/2 inches by 23 3/4 inches, on canvas and a stretcher with no visible signature. The lady in the painting has no eyelashes; she has a brooch at her neck with a picture of a person. She is wearing a lace cap and lace collar. Does it have any value?
—B.S., Dubuque, Iowa
A Your oil on canvas portrait was most likely painted in the 1840s or 1850s, based on the lady’s clothing. If it were unsigned it would be quite difficult to determine exactly who the artist was. Since it reportedly came from the Mystic, Conn., area you might try contacting museums in that area. Perhaps someone there will recognize the “style” of this portrait as that of a known regional artist. The value would be greatly enhanced if it could be firmly attributed to a known artist. As just an “anonymous” portrait I’d guess it might be valued in the $350-$800 range.
Q This print was removed from an office of a closed-down petroleum company. It is 47 1/2 inches by 34 inches. At the top is printed “Bank by Andy Warhol. Pretty as a pigture, huh?” Though it certainly looks like something Warhol would paint, but I have been unable to find anything about it.
—H.P., Pampa, Texas
A I did quite a bit of research online to try and determine if this is based on the artwork of Andy Warhol but didn’t have any luck. Of course, he produced hundreds and hundreds of designs and I couldn’t locate a resource that lists them all. The value of this piece will depend greatly on how scarce it is and whether Warhol actually licensed it as an advertising piece. Of course, original Warhol silk-screens are extremely valuable but huge numbers of reproductions of them are available today at modest prices. My guess is that this isn’t a terribly rare item but perhaps some reader may be able to enlighten us further.