Skip to main content

Contemporary Fenton pieces create charming trio

In the most recent installment of Ask the Experts, Dr. Anthony Cavo sheds some light on a woman's inquiry about her trio of Fenton pieces, which includes a piece by an award-winning artist.

Q I would like to know the value of these three pieces. They were a gift from my daughter. I love the color blue.

Everyone that comes in loves them and they say they have never seen pieces with a Christmas theme, or the vase with a snow scene. They say Fenton on them, but they also have other names.
— V.A.
Dalton, Ga.

Fenton items

A These are indeed three contemporary pieces of Fenton, in very popular Christmas designs.
The large vase with the Grist Mill in Winter scene is signed by J. K. (Robin) Spindler, an award-winning artist and designer who began working with Fenton in 1979; the vase sells in the $35 to $40 range. The Nativity scene fairy lamp, by the artist Ernestine Dulaney sells in the $35 to $45 range, and the Nativity scene bell sells in the $15 to $25 range.

All three of these items come in plain white, blue and white, or polychrome (several colors).


Q What is it? It has an inscription that reads: Pat.d Nov. 11, 1878 or 1879, and it measures 6-1/2 inches wide by 3 inches deep. The caps on wooden “rollers” are brass, and it has a C-shaped metal frame, a locking pin that keeps rollers from moving and the tape from unwinding. The tape ends are sewn together, after which they are fed through two slots in the frame. I assume the tape belongs on the object, but I don’t know. I have purchased identical chair tape in the past. Some sold as Shaker tape or tape made in Pennsylvania.
— M.S.
Columbus, Ohio

A This oddity is something that everyone from school-age children to grandparents would recognize immediately during the late Victorian era and into the early 20th century, yet something the majority of people today could not identify. This item became obsolete when children began

Victorian book strap.

Victorian book strap.

using school bags, which in turn became obsolete with the introduction of the backpack. Perhaps in our world of virtual books, someone will be sending a photo of a backpack to Antique Trader in 100 years for identification.

What you have is a Victorian book strap, used to secure and carry books back and forth to school – when children actually walked to school. Imagine the average Victorian child walking to a school without a lunch program or government subsidized supplies. Children would carry books, lunch pails, pencil boxes and often their own writing slates. Add umbrellas, boots, raincoats, scarfs and gloves during inclement weather, and you begin to see how important a book strap was in preventing books from being dropped. I knew a woman who, when she started school in 1907, had to take the family cow along with her each day.

Today these book straps, along with a few old books, are used as decorative accents and one such as yours, with the Shaker tape and in such great condition, could sell for around $70.