Steve: No, I think that was lawn equipment.
Ken: Yeah, all right, sure.
Steve: Okay, cough up the quarter and shut up.
Ken: Can’t wait ‘til Zoning comes knocking on your door.
Steve: Then we’ll probably get busted for gambling.
Ken: No, it’s not about the grass. It’s about what they’re leaving in it.
Steve: Exactly. Well, I didn’t say fertilizer. We could have gone that way, too. Well, as I walked out the door I looked at piece of what we call majolica in one of my collections. If you don’t really know what majolica is, you’ve probably seen it. You’ve probably seen it at garage sales, flea markets and had no idea. You probably just looked at it and said what an ugly ashtray. Who would make that in pottery class? I wouldn’t have that in my house. Well, a lot of the majolica looks like that.
Majolica goes all the way back to the 15th century. Majolica actually is a type of what we call earthenware. It’s a clay dish or utensil or pot or something like that, some utilitarian thing or decorative thing that was made out of earthenware or clay and, originally, back in the 15th century Italy was a real big center for majolica ware. What really changes it from just an earthenware piece of clay pot was the type of glaze they put on it.
When we say ‘glaze’, if you’re going to use a pot to eat or drink out of and it’s just made out of clay, it’s really not going to hold the water that well and it’s not going to be real hygienic. You want something that you can wash out and clean. Well, if they put a glaze on the inside it makes it very smooth so that you can wash it and get some of the bacteria out of it. Back in the 15th century they didn’t know a whole lot about that, but they put a glaze on it to make it decorative.
The first types of glazes that they actually used were a tin-based glaze. Basically, what they did is they took a dark clay pot and they put a white glaze on it with this tin glaze and it was just a white piece of pottery. Then they said you know what, let’s decorate it a little bit. Let’s jazz this thing up, so they started to make the paints on them tin-glazed, as well. They would paint the piece of pottery and then put this tin glaze, this white or clear glaze over the top of the painted piece and now all of a sudden it started to become very decorative, nice-looking types of pottery.
We look at older pieces of pottery, glassware, even paintings and things and we go man, these people had some weird ideas for designs and things like that, the reason being they didn’t have an Internet. There weren’t a whole lot of books printed. What did they know about? They knew about all the legends, the Greek gods, the animals in the ocean, all the legends and things that had been passed down. So we find that a lot of the pottery at that time or the majolica ware was decorated with legendary scenes; you know Hercules or Greek goddesses and different types of things. The handles all of a sudden started to have all kinds of mystical animals on them. They combined an animal with a person’s figure or some sort of a decorative nature type of thing with a person’s body. So we see a lot of really kind of bizarre mystical-looking scenes on a lot of the really early majolica.
Now, this was in the 15th century that it really started. In the 16th century during the Renaissance period, this is when it really hit its height and this stuff was transported all around the world. When we say ‘all around the world’, how big was the world in the 1600s. It wasn’t that big, but we had trading ships that would go to all the different lands and they would take lots of this majolica ware with them. So they started to spread the idea of majolica ware. It was fairly inexpensive to make, but the tin glaze, that was the real key to this, so you needed artisans who understood how to work with oxides and different types of compounds to make this tin glaze to get this type of a finish on it.
Now, into the 1800s, majolica ware had spread pretty much around the world and in England it was a real big seller. I believe 1853 was what they call The Great Exhibition and this is when majolica ware was really first introduced to the world. I say to the world, to the common person, to royalty. Again, this was a huge exhibition and people traveled to it from all around. You had one of the English makers by the name of Minton, which was a large porcelain company. They did pottery ware and things, but at that point in time they learned to manufacture this tin-glazed ware. They put this on display at The Great Exhibition and within two days every piece of their majolica ware had been sold out.
They were geared up for this thing, but you’re talking about something that was new. It was fairly inexpensive at the time and the common man as well as royalty could afford it and it was very, very popular. What they would do is they copied many of the 1600s’ pieces. Again, the world had gotten bigger by the 1800s, but still the mystical forms and things like this were very popular. This was something that was still familiar to most people at that time, so they used common types of folklore and themes that people could appreciate.
Now, the big colors from just the plain white glaze at that point in time, they used greens, they used whites, they used pinks and they used reds. These were easier colors for them to come up with because they would mix different oxides and they were able to use these as glazes for the types of different pottery ware.
Minton had a couple different types of majolica ware that they put out there and one was what they call Palissy ware. Palissy, back in the 1600s, was a very well-known sculpture and artist and he did a lot of majolica ware. You’ll find his stuff had all kinds of sea life, animals and decorative-type of things from the sea, the grass and shells and things like this. He did a lot of real bright colors, lots of bright reds and greens and things. The difference that he did, though, his glaze was just a clear glaze. So what he would do is paint his pottery ware and then put this clear glaze over the top of it. It’s called Palissy ware because his themes were a lot different. His sculptures were a lot different than a lot of the other artisans from the 1600s.
Well, when Minton turned around and copied a lot of his wares, they said okay, fine. We’ll call it Palissy ware because we’re copying a lot of his type of forms, but the big thing was the fact that they did the glaze over the top of the already-painted earthenware. Now, Minton turned around and did a lot of their own majolica ware. Not the Palissy ware, what they would do is they would take their pottery and put the colors into the earthenware itself and then they would glaze over the top of it with the same type of color glaze. So you had a little bit of zip to it and, again, it was fairly inexpensive because it was a clay rather than a porcelain type of thing, which was a much tougher item to fire and work with.
In the 1800s, they weren’t worried about the mythological stuff, as well. They were looking at things that people could relate to. I know this is going to sound kind of weird, but some of the things you’ll notice in the majolica ware are cauliflower designs. They actually looked like the head of a cauliflower. You’ll find leaves, that was another big thing, different types of flowers. There were oriental motifs. There were fish. A lot of the backgrounds were woven like a basketry-type of thing. To jazz them up a little bit, a lot of pitchers and things like this, a lot of utilitarian-type of things, the handles would be woven like branches. Again, this caught on. It was very decorative, as well as utilitarian.
We’ve talked about the different types of artists, the art ware and the different styles. In the 1890s, we got into the Art Nouveau period where we saw a lot of nature as the theme. Well, with some of the majolica we find lily pads that were, again, going back to nature, shells, birds. Again, the decorations were influenced by the times, so this is one way that we can sort of date a lot of these pieces. We look at the design on it and say okay, this stuff is probably from the 1860s-1870s. With the naturalistic-looking things we say okay, this is probably from the 1890s in more of the Art Nouveau period.
Now, as with anything, we’ve talked about jewelry designs coming from Europe to the States and the same thing with, basically, clothing and porcelains. The same as majolica, the big producers early on were Italy, Germany and France. A lot of times, when we look at the designs on them we can sort of tell where that piece actually came from because of the designs on it.
When we look at the American stuff, again, the cabbage leafs, the cauliflowers, all that stuff was really popular. When I say you’ve possibly seen this stuff at garage sales and things, I remember thinking back at this green leaf-shaped dish. It had little veins and stuff in the flower design and it was painted sort of lawn chair green, parts of it were a little darker than the others. Sometimes it even had a little stalk on it with a pink to it. That was a piece of majolica. Usually it’s got kind of a mat finish to it. Later on a lot of the American stuff had a mat finish. Some of it had a high gloss, as well, but it was that green color.
Some of the manufacturers you’ll find, Edwin Bennett was one. I bought a large collection years ago and I had a piece that I wasn’t that familiar with at the time, but it was a compote. A compote is something that has a dish on the top of it and it’s got sort of a long base or a long handle type of thing in the middle of it and then a base on the bottom and you’d put candy in it or something like this, flowers. But the majolica stuff, what Bennett would do is at the center portion that would hold the dish away from the base would be a dolphin.
This is one way you can really distinguish a lot of his ware. Sometimes it was marked, sometimes it wasn’t, but you’ll see this pretty dish, usually a really high glass with some sort of a dolphin sort of standing on his tail and the larger portion of the compote would be on his head. A lot of times if you picked it up on the back underneath you’d see a GSH, which was his company. This was one way that you could tell it was his.
There was another fellow by the name of Brownfield who did a lot of majolica ware. He was an English potter and on the backside of his sometimes you would see like a WB inside of like a square knot that was embossed into the piece. This was another one of the real collectible potters. George Jones was another English potter who did majolica ware. You’d see a GJ on the back in black underneath the bottom of some of his stuff.
I mention this because a lot of the majolica ware you’ll look at has no markings whatsoever as far as manufacturers. You sort of have to know what their theme was, what their topic that they were really known for, it helps you determine who the maker was. There are a lot of books and interesting articles on majolica ware that will help you identify pieces that aren’t marked on the bottom or aren’t signed by the artist.
As we became more and more industrialized and people became a little bit more sophisticated, majolica ware sort of died off and by around the 1900s there weren’t a whole lot of companies still making majolica ware; although, there’s been revitalization, actually, of a lot of types of majolica ware. Not so much the old renaissance style and the older 1800s style. We find a lot of the Mexican ware that you’ll bring back with you is a type of majolica. It’s an earthenware and, again, it’s got that tin-base blaze to it, it’s got decorations underneath. They make a lot of sinks out of it now and basins, just a lot of different pottery. It’s actually a type of majolica ware.
A lot of the pieces are still made in Italy and, again, when you’ve been on a cruise and you stop at some of the flea markets and see all these beautiful vases and things like that, this is a form of majolica ware. You pick it up and it will say Italy on the bottom of it. Again, are they collectible? The later stuff now is really not collectible, but it’s pretty, it’s decorative. If you look around the house and you’ve gotten presents from someone who was abroad and they said oh, here’s a beautiful flower vase for you, then it’s probably a piece of majolica. It’s actually not porcelain. It’s made out of a clay and decorated with this tin glaze to it. This is a type of majolica.
I’m Steve Duke, the owner of Westchester Gold & Diamonds. We’re talking to you a little bit about majolica, some of the stuff you’ve encountered over the years. You may have a piece of it now. Some of it is quite collectible. It’s not as popular as it used to be, but if you’ve got a piece and you’re interested in disposing of it, would like to sell it or at least find out what you’ve got, please stop by our shop. We’re in the Bear Plaza behind ABC Liquors. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now, I’m always happy to take a look and tell you what you’ve got. With that we’re going to take a quick break and return to Tradio.
Steve: All right, we’re back with Tradio. If you’ve got an item that you would like to buy, sell or trade or you’ve got any kinds of questions, even on majolica like we just finished talking about, 206-1580 would be the number to give us a buzz at. Our lines are now open, go. Quick, call us. Come on, help us out here.
Ken: Quick, quick, right now. Come on. Hey!
Steve: Did we get a caller? All right. Good morning, you’re on Tradio.
Caller: How you doing today?
Steve: Good. What have you got for us?
Caller: I have a full-size sofa that has less than probably six months use. It was at a home I owned up north and we’d only go up there for a couple weeks at a time. It’s made in North Carolina by Craftmaster. It’s cloth, but it’s a very high-end sofa. I think the retail on it was about $900 bucks, looking to get $300. It’s hard to explain, but sort of a gingham pattern, red and white, very cool looking.
Steve: Okay. This isn’t the one that was used at the frat house was it?
Caller: It was not.
Ken: Are you single or married?
Caller: I am married.
Ken: Okay. Well, it’s probably not bad-looking.
Steve: How many times did you have to sleep on that thing?
Caller: Exactly. I’m in Port Charlotte. Somebody can come over and look at it if they, but it’s a deal. I want, like I said, $300 bucks. The phone number is 456-5340. Smoke-free environment, actually it’s perfect. It’s like brand new.
Ken: All right.
Steve: We’ll see what we can do for you. Thanks for calling.
Caller: Thank you very much.
Ken: That’s not bad.
Steve: All right, our lines are open again 206-1580. If you’ve got some items that you’d like to buy, sell or trade, we’d like to hear about them.
Steve: Yes, I’ve been busy out there looking for new items for the store. We bought a large selection of diamond jewelry, so if you’re looking for engagement rings right now you could put it on layaway, you could finance it with us now. We do have some beautiful stuff we can custom-design. We have the Daddario line, which you can modify anything we’ve got in that and custom do it for you. We’d love to have you come out and take a look at that. You can save a lot of money on it because we’ve got a sale going on on all our diamond jewelry right now. We’ve got a caller. Good morning, you’re on Tradio.
Caller: Good morning. I was listening last week and there was a gentleman that had an exhaust fan and I didn’t get his number. Do you still have it?
Steve: Well, as we speak, Ken is going to look through his hieroglyphics.
Ken: I might.
Caller: All right.
Steve: Hang on there a minute.
Steve: Why didn’t you call him last week?
Caller: Well, I meant to and then I lost the number.
Steve: Oh, okay. We’ll try not to penalize you here. He’s looking. He’s got a scowl on his face. Oh, wait, here it is. You got a pencil and paper?
Ken: Oh, that was William.
Steve: Oh, okay,
Ken: The roof exhaust, $500 bucks. Yeah, 833-8912.
Steve: Put that some place you won’t forget it.
Caller: It’s a roof exhaust?
Ken: Yeah, big, huge one.
Caller: All right. Thank you very much.
Steve: Oh, I’m going to call him right now. I’m going to beat you to it.
Caller: I enjoy your program.
Ken: There you go. It’s also pizza Friday down there.
Steve: Ooh, okay.
Ken: Two slices of pie and a Coke.
Steve: Yeah, and?
Ken: Five bucks.
Steve: Good deal.
Ken: Yeah, okay.
Steve: That will just show you how Tradio works. If you heard something you’re interested in and you lost the number, you can actually call us.
Ken: Oh, thank God, there’s another call. He was looking at the clock going I’ve got to kill another five minutes.
Steve: We do write all this stuff down, so if you lost a number you could call and Ken does have it.
Ken: Yeah, I do.
Steve: Good morning, you’re on Tradio.
Caller: How are you today?
Steve: Okay. You’re breaking up a little bit.
Caller: You know, Steve, I was up there a while ago with those piano keys.
Caller: Did you ever find anything out about those?
Steve: I talked to a couple friends of mine for you. It was stuff that they could do inlay work with, but nobody was really keen on it. I lost your number, I’m glad you called me back.
Caller: That’s all right. So they really aren’t worth anything?
Steve: Well, yeah, if you find the right person. What I would say, the next time there’s a gun show in the area take them up there because what everybody was telling me is what they do is they’ll take those slivers of ivory and use them for inlay work on the handles of the guns and knives.
Caller: Ooh, that sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Steve: Yeah, I think that would be the way to try and move those. While I’ve got you on Tradio, tell everybody what you’ve got. You’ve got a whole bunch of ivory slivers off of piano keys if somebody is looking for them. Give me your phone number.
Caller: Okay, it’s 339-738-3311.
Steve: All right, we’ll see if we can sell them for you.
Caller: Thanks for the tip, man.
Steve: Okay, pal. Bye now.
Ken: All right.
Steve: Good morning, you’re on Tradio.
Caller: I know you’ve probably got to look at it, but I’d like a ballpark figure. I’ve got a $5 gold piece my dad gave me a long time ago.
Caller: What would you estimate the cost of that $5 gold piece would be today? It’s been circulated, but it’s still in pretty good shape.
Steve: I would say anywhere from $300 to $500, depending on the date, condition and whether it’s a Liberty head or an Indian head.
Caller: I think it’s a Liberty head and it’s a 1907.
Steve: Okay, that’s a fairly common date. I would say starting at around $300 and it would go up from there.
Caller: Oh, cool. Thank you very much for the information.
Steve: You’re certainly welcome.
Ken: Thank you.
Steve: Bye now.
Ken: Honey, we got a nice dinner tonight.
Steve: Yeah, we’re going up to visit Steve. I know where I can cash this baby in. All right, how much time we got left? We almost out?
Ken: Dos minutes.
Steve: Okay. All right, just wanted to let you know if you’ve seen any of the stars wearing these things, especially the Kardashians, it’s this new cross necklace and it hangs sideways. We’ve got a bunch of those in over at Westchester Gold.
Ken: Because if a Kardashian is wearing it, well then you just have to have one yourself.
Steve: If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for you and we’ve got them.
Ken: It’s a sideways cross? What do you mean?
Steve: It hangs sideways.
Ken: So it’s not from the top of the cross, it’s from the side.
Steve: It’s not up and down. It’s attached to the top and the bottom of the cross, it hangs on an angle.
Ken: What is the significance of that?
Steve: The significance is that you’re blessed.
Steve: I don’t know. I can’t tell you that.
Ken: I’m just wondering.
Steve: It’s a new fashion statement. They’re on sale right now for $159. They’re normally $225 bucks. We have them in white gold, yellow gold, pink gold, with diamonds and they’ve been flying off the shelf.
Ken: Flying out, ha?
Steve: We’ve got some left. Some of the girls right here are wearing them.
Steve: Yeah. I won’t be mentioning any names, but I’m the place they came from.
Ken: Forty seconds.
Steve: All right, I’d like to thank everybody for listening to us on Tradio. All these many years you’ve done it, I’ve appreciate it. Stop by and see us, we’d love to have you. With that I’m going to say goodbye to everybody until next week.
Have Questions about your antiques, estate jewelry, collectibles or old treasures?
If you have questions for Steve Duke to answer about your jewelry, antiques or collectibles, just send a photo of the item and your question directly to Steve Duke at WGDiamonds@HotMail.com and Steve will research it for you and you may be contacted to participate in an upcoming Tradio episode. Be sure to include your name, email and phone number along with your question and email it to: WGDiamonds@HotMail.com
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Visit our Website: http://www.westchestergold.com
Westchester Gold and Diamonds is one of the largest buyers of gold, silver, diamonds, Rolex watches, antique and estate jewelry in southwest Florida.
As the premier jewelry store in Port Charlotte since 1974. We do custom design and we are able to duplicate many designs that you may have seen in your travels; often at a fraction of the price.
We accept your old diamonds and jewelry in trade, the same as cash.