2017-07-12 / Top News

Paper-cutting began in second century — now sought by collectors


It took a skilled person to cut the tiny branches of flowers in this 18th-century cut-work picture.COURTESY PHOTO It took a skilled person to cut the tiny branches of flowers in this 18th-century cut-work picture.
The very thin, graceful lines, the black-and-gilt frame, the cut-work initials and date “JB/1760” added up to a bid (with premium) of $2,460 at a Skinner auction in Massachusetts. Cut-work, or paper-cutting, has been an art form since the second century after paper was invented in China. Most of the pictures were made by women as a hobby. Today, the art form is enjoyed in many countries. Each picture is a single sheet, not a collage. Scissor cuts are used with up to eight sheets of paper held together. Knife cutting is made with a few layers of paper on a soft waxy surface. It takes skill — there is no erasing errors. The auctioned picture has a vase made by folding the paper, so the finished piece is symmetrical and many branches of flowers cut as single images. The white cut-work paper is attached to a black paper background.

Q: My mom has two blue glass lightning rod balls from my great-grandfather’s house. She was trying to find out how much they are worth. Any suggestions on where to take them or what to look for?

A: Lightning rods are used on barns and houses to divert lightning strikes. Lightning rod balls fit onto the rod and are ornamental, designed to make the lightning rod more attractive. The most common are round and light blue or white. The colorful glass balls are collectible and often sell at bottle shows, Depression glass shows and auctions. Common balls sell for about $35 or less while those with rare shapes and colors can sell for more than $100.

Q: We have a boxed set of five lithophanes and are wondering how to identify them. One by Benjamin Vautier is called “Das Ist Ein Taugenichts,” which translates as “this is good for nothing.” It pictures a schoolteacher at her desk, a mother and a young boy, hanging his head. It’s marked “HPM 93” and is from Porzellanfabrik Magdeburg. What is it A: Lithophanes are porcelain pictures made by casting clay in layers of various thicknesses, so the picture shows through when the piece is held to the light. Most were made between 1825 and 1875. Many were originally made as panels for lampshades. Your lithophane was made by Carl Heyroth & Co. at the porcelain factory in Magdeburg, Germany. Your lithophane was made about 1848. The picture was done by Benjamin Vautier (1829-1898), a Swiss painter and illustrator known for his pictures of peasant life. Lithophanes sell for a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, depending on size, subject and condition.

Q: I have a collection of Vaseline glass and would like to sell some pieces because we are downsizing. Where can I get it appraised?

A: Vaseline glass is a greenish-yellow glassware resembling petroleum jelly. Some pieces sell for a few hundred dollars and some for over $1,000, but others sell for less than $50. Contact an auction that sells Vaseline glass. They will tell you if it’s worth putting into an auction.

Q: Warwick Castle is pictured on my inherited Royal Doulton coffeepot. What can you tell me about it?

A: Warwick Castle is part of Royal Doulton’s Castles & Churches series, which was made from about 1908 to the early 1950s. It is one of eight castles and five churches in the series. Retail price is about $80.

Q: I saw a bronze tray made by E.T. Hurley in an antiques shop. It was expensive, so I didn’t buy it, but I was wondering who he is.

A: Edward Timothy Hurley (1869-1950) was an artist who lived and worked in Cincinnati. He is known for his work as a decorator at Rookwood Pottery, where he began in 1869. He was known for his etchings of scenes in and around Cincinnati. He also produced works of art in watercolor, oil, chalk and bronze. His works in bronze sell for high prices. A 5 5/8-inch round tray, with a large spider in the center of a web, sold recently for over $1,000.

Tip: For every 24 inches of shelf, use about 20 books. Too many books makes it hard to take a book off the shelf. ¦

— Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. Write to Kovels, Florida Weekly, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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