What's Selling on eBay - April 2013
By Deborah Abernethy and Mike McLeod
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The following items sold recently on eBay. The comments are those of expert appraiser Deborah Abernethy.

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$1,620 (17 bids): Large Bronze Grasshopper Inkwell, French/Vienna Bronze? Antique bronze inkwell in the shape of a grasshopper or locust, complete with double inkwells. It looks French or similar in style and quality to Bergman Vienna bronzes. Dimensions: 4 inches high by 12 inches long. Signed, impressed in the bronze, “Number 1.” Note: a solid, heavy piece. (Photo, courtesy of eBay seller metropolisdecarts.)

DBA: Every literate society has valued writing utensils or implements. While this inkwell is from a time period where many people could write, it does pre-date fountain pens and other more modern inventions! I am surprised at this inkwell selling for this amount, primarily because it is not marked with a manufacturer. It does appear very detailed and high quality. I did find a Tiffany and Co. inkwell, circa 1900, selling for $1,375 on eBay. If I look into a decorator market rather than an antique one, maybe the price may be justified. I would feel this is a high price, and this buyer may not get as much for it when he sells. 

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$3,000 (20 bids): 18th C. Unrecorded Stirrup Cup Toby Jug, Creamware English. Staffordshire Antique. You are bidding on an extremely rare18th English creamware Toby Jug represented seated with crossed legs holding a stirrup cup in both hands, painted with rich, bright, translucent running underglaze colours. Belonging to same group/potter as Wineskin Toby, Reading Toby, Rodney Sailor and Bottle Toby, check Vic Schuler's book, Collecting British Toby Jugs' To the best of my knowledge/research, this Toby is unrecorded. This may be a rare opportunity for a unique Toby in your collection. Old repair to edge of hat, tip of nose and foot, otherwise fine. Height is 11.2 in. This is by far the rarest Toby I have ever come across, being sold with modest reserve and with a small tear in eye. (Photo, courtesy of eBay seller bluesguard.)

DBA: Toby jugs are of English origin with several interpretations of the beginning and of the name. The Toby Jug is a drinking vessel named after Toby Philpot from the song, Little Brown Jug, or from Sir Tony/Toby Belch from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The early jugs show characters in 18th century dress complete with the tri-corner hat. Many Staffordshire potters made these jugs, and some were signed. Even some 20th century Royal Doulton character jugs have sold for substantial sums. However, this is a strong price for one jug. Three circa 1800 Toby jugs sold together at Christie’s in 2012 for $1,250 including buyer’s premium. This price must be because of the rarity of this particular Toby jug.  

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$5,400 (24 bids): Primitive Kentucky Sugar Chest, Cherrywood, Early 19th C. A beautiful early 1800s solid cherry with poplar seconds Kentucky sugar chest. Has four small wood drawers inside lid, hand-cut dovetails and chamfered bottoms. Square-cut nails throughout. The shelf that holds the drawers is a little loose on the left side facing. Large 21-inch wide single board front; bottom scallop piece is a separate board. Chest stands 36.75 inches tall x 18.75 inches deep by 37.75 inches wide. My guess is, it has been refinished at some point, years ago. Some large cracks to front board; in these cracks, it looks like some narrow strips of wood were added to help fill the void. Front leg is missing a metal cap, also a split in this leg. It is possible, looking at the hole in this leg, that this chest once had casters. Not the original lock; some wood has been added around lock to fill the hole (must have been a larger lock originally). Hinged top board is missing lock clasp that would have held the lid shut when locked. May be original hinges; they fit well, although I would think they would have been iron, not brass? Very unusual curves to front side bottom. All the boards and wood pieces are original. Shows very well, with a nice finish and patina. Really clean for its age, must have been very cherished! Remember this is an antique and will have flaws and character. (Photo courtesy of eBay seller victcollector.)

DBA: At one time, sugar was a very expensive commodity, and this was especially true when Kentucky was on the western frontier of the United States. A sugar chest was a status symbol for the family and was kept in a locked chest in a public room, such as a parlor or dining room. The top would open, and usually, there would be two compartments: a smaller one for light (processed) sugar and a larger one for dark sugar, primarily used for cooking. Kentucky and Tennessee were the two areas where sugar chests were most used because these “frontier” areas made it harder to get sugar to the consumer, and therefore, more valuable.

How can we tell if this primitive chest is old? The square nails are one clue. But look at the width of these boards. A 21-inch board is large and comes from a time when the trees were much larger. Newer furniture is pieced together from smaller planks. Because sugar chests are so highly valued, other chests are frequently cut down to resemble them. Also, beware of newer chests made to look old to fool the novice. The buyer got a good deal even with the restoration on this object. 

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$1,881 (18 bids): Steelcraft Fire Chief Pedal Car, Original Paint, unrestored. Original, barn find. As found, needs cleaning, only dusted for pictures. Tires are rotted and need replacing. Original, solid, no holes in car. (Photo, courtesy of eBay seller jzyjack.)

DBA: This is a circa 1940 toy. Now, if only this toy would fit the person for his second childhood! There are places to replace the tires for this car, and even with that additional expense, this is a good buy when compared to what these cars sell for restored. I have seen these toys in a restored state selling for twice that amount of money. 


Deborah Abernethy is a certified appraiser with the International Association of Appraisers. She can be contacted at 404-262-2131 or Deborah@expert-appraisers.com . Her website is www.expert-appraisers.com .

  

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