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Appraisal: San Ildefonso vase should fetch at least $500

Dr. George Marchelos provides antiques appraisals for Antique Trader subscribers. Dr. Marchelos appraises a San Ildefonso vase and a European gag gift.

By Dr. George Marchelos

Appraisal Inquiry:

I am sending requests for estimations on three different items.

One: Gold plated “Ultra Thin” Gruen pocket watch with gold chain. My dad bought this for my grandfather at the end of WWII. The watch is 1 1/2” in diameter.

Two: Kiln baked vase 2 3/4” tall, 4 3/4” in diameter, signed “Bluecorn.” (Maria Bluecorn) was purchased in San Diego, Calif., in 1963.

Three: A toilet paper dispenser music box. It is 7 3/4” wide, 7” tall, and 1 3/4” deep. A sticker reads “Made in Switzerland, Faust Waltz.” Another sticker reads “A. Duforet, sculptures Moritz.” The roll of toilet paper is unopened and the wrapper is in Swiss. There is a wire from the spindle to the music box when pulled makes the music box play “Here comes the Bride.”

I have been told in parts of Europe there is a tradition of giving the bride a gift of toilet paper on her wedding day. This may explain the music box with the toilet paper.

— R.H., Westminster, Colo.


San Ildefonso vase

San Ildefonso vase

R.H. has asked about three items, including a watch. Unfortunately, a photo of the watch was not sent so there is no basis for a valuation. Condition and more information about the chain would have to be known. That said, the second item is a polished finish black vase signed “Bluecorn.”

An image of the signature is not present but the date purchased, 1963, probably would indicate it is authentic.

Blue Corn was born Crucita Calabaza at San Ildefonso Pueblo in 1921 and died in 1999. Although Maria Martinez is credited with the discovery of the black pottery associated with her and the Pueblo San Ildefonso, Blue Corn is recognized as the artist who revived polychrome Ildefonso pottery, although she also produced red ware and black ware pots and other items as well.

Before her death she received more than 50 awards and her work is found in museums and private collections all over the world. This black ware pot, signed, in excellent condition, should fetch at least $500, perhaps more in the right venue. If larger the value would be higher. Unsigned equivalents are around $100-$200. In any case, all her work is sought by collectors and curators alike, especially her feather and cloud designs with carefully crafted finishes.

European gag gift

European gag gift

The third item as a typical prank or gag gift from Europe. These can be aimed at any life changing event like weddings, births, etc. Often, when a baby is born, diapers are hung outside the home. Having lived in Europe for some time we saw quite a few of these. This particular item is from the French speaking area of Switzerland and the paper was manufactured by Sanitas, a famous pharmaceutical corporation.

The addition of the music box just adds to the fun, and this is a very backhanded way of saying “to your health,” although it does not translate into English very well. It appears to be from the 1970s and as a cultural related item would not sale for very much here in the United States unless the collector specialized in party or gag items. Then, $35 would be fair.

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