An oil painting donated to a rummage sale for a halfway house for substance abusers in Corpus Christie, Texas, didn't sell at the asking price of 50 cents. So after the sale the house director decided to research the signature on the painting. He learned it was the work of Alfred de Breanski, a 19th century British artist whose paintings sell for hundreds of dollars. The painting was later auctioned for $19,000. Readers, it pays to check out those old paintings.
Question: Can you tell me anything about my clock made by Elmer O. Stennes in 1960s marked M.C.I.P.? - D.K., Coal Run.
Answer: From the 1940s to the 1970s, Elmer O. Stennes was well known for his quality clock reproductions. In 1968, he shot and killed his wife. While he was out on bail, he signed his clocks with the initials O.O.B., meaning out on bond. When he went to prison for manslaughter he continued his business in the prison wood shop and signed his clocks M.C.I.P., which stood for Made Case In Prison. He was paroled in 1972, but was murdered in 1975 by an unknown assailant. In 2007, one of his reproduction clocks he made in prison sold at an auction in Pembroke, Mass., for $9,968.
Q.: Can you tell me anything about my vase that is marked "Swastika Keramos"? - B.K., Marietta.
A.: A swastika mark was used by the Edward Owens China Company of Minerva, Ohio, long before it was the symbol of Hitler's Germany. The company was in business from 1902 to 1932. "Swastika Keramos" was a line of art pottery made there from 1906 to 1908. Many pieces were made with an iridescent glaze. An 8-inch vase like yours sells for about $250.
Q.: How can I tell if my Pepsi Cola tray is an original or a reproduction? - J.H., Devola.
A.: Original Pepsi Cola trays had an elaborate border with the words, "Delicious at the top," and, "Healthful," at the bottom. Reproductions have a double dash because the word "Pepsi" and "Cola" are separated by two dashes. The modern logo with a single hyphen was introduced in 1951. An original tray can sell for about $1,000.
Q.: I have an old cook book that's shaped like a loaf of bread, printed by the Sleepy Eye Milling Company. Can you tell me anything about the cookbook and what it might be worth? - V.G., Waterford.
A.: The Sleepy Eye Milling Company was a flour mill that operated in Sleepy Eye, Minn., from 1883 to 1921. Old Sleepy Eye was a Sioux Indian chief who was born in Minnesota in 1870. His name was used for the town, as well as the mill. The company promoted its flour with many advertising items, including cookbooks, calendars, paper weights, and many other items, including pottery, all which are popular with collectors today. Your cookbook, in good condition, is valued at $150 up to $200.
Larry Koon is the author of several price guide books on antiques and collectibles. His column appears every Monday on Life. Send letters to Treasure in the Attic, c/o The Marietta Times, 700 Channel Lane, Marietta 45750; or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. When writing, send a complete description of the item, along with size, color, any markings on the item along with condition the item is in, and how the item was obtained, and any other information. If possible, send a photograph. Letters will be answered through this column.