April 2005

  This month Mike McLeod takes a look at Jim’s Pen Site, Wedgwood, David Doty’s Carnival Glass Website, Children’s Books Online: the Rosetta Project, and David Doty’s Carnival Glass Website. Mike, who lives with his family near Atlanta, has written about a broad range of antiques and collectibles –  from Sumida pottery to Gutenburg Bible pages. Readers who would like to share interesting websites with Mike may contact him via email at mikemcl@mindspring.com


1919 Shaeffer
fountain pen.
Jim’s Pen Site
www.jimgaston.com

       The first successful fountain pens were created in the 1880s by the Waterman and Parker companies. The other most recognized name to collectors, Shaeffer, followed around the turn of the century. Beyond being an elegant and historic collectible, in the past ten years some fountain pens have sold for six figures.

Jim Gaston loves fountain pens. You can tell by the amount of time he has spent creating his website and offering to the world a great variety of information about collecting fountain pens.

In addition to photos of pens and old advertising for pens, there are articles on: the history of Waterman and Shaeffer; collecting tips; nib repair; and more.

Jim has categorized the stages of collecting pens for the novice collectors – since he is often asked by them, “What should I collect?”  Here are his stages:

1st Stage: Buy every pen I could get my hands on. (The Gathering Stage); 2nd Stage: Collecting Parker’s, Sheaffers, Watermans, etc. (The Brand Name Stage); 3rd Stage: Collecting pens of a certain era. (The Era Stage); 4th Stage: Where I am now, which is collecting sterling silver pens and early Sheaffers. (The Focus Stage); 5th Stage: I have no idea what this is. I am still working on it. I am sure I will find it and then start working on the 6th stage.

The other question Jim often hears is, “How much should I pay?” The answer to that is, “What do you think it is worth?” Just like any antique or vintage item, value is in the eye of the beholder. And just like everyone else, Jim admits to paying too much for some in his collection and getting “good buys” at other times. But his wisest counsel is: “I really regret the ones that I passed up because I thought that they were too high priced! If you think that a pen is too high priced, then don’t buy it. Just remember, cheap pens will always be cheap pens. I have never regretted adding a high-price pen to my collection because you get what you pay for.”

 


Circa 1910 Wedgwood urn/vase from Michael Herman’s collection.
Wedgwood
www.wedgwoodfriends.com

           This small collection of collectors get together informally to show and discuss pieces from their collections. No dues, no fees, no board of directors. Just lovers of Wedgwood sharing their treasures.

Four of them have some of their collections posted on the website, and there is at least one piece there from the late 1700s and several from the 1800s. Some of the other interesting items shown include: a cheese keep, hatpin holder, posey vase, pipe bowl and stand, Cambridge ale jug, tea poys, a ceiling plate for a chandelier (circa 1865), and more.

Under the “History” button, there is a photo of the Wedgwood Etruria Works Factory on the Trent & Mersey Canal from 1898. It was officially opened in 1769 by Josiah Wedgwood and then finally demolished in the 1960s. It was here that Josiah introduced the division of labor concept to his workers and increased their output. He also joined with others in getting the Trent & Mersey Canal built, which allowed his to easily transport Cornish clay to his factory and ship the finished product to Liverpool and Hull.

Josiah contracted smallpox at the age of 11 and later had his right leg amputated because of it. Rather than bemoaning his fate, young Josiah spent his time in recovery studying and researching pottery making. And his time was well spent. His work was purchased by royalty the world over, and it is lauded for its beauty today. Wedgwood collecting brought strangers together and made them friends. Maybe the U.N. should have a Director of Collecting to foster greater friendship and peace in the world.

This small collection of collectors get together informally to show and discuss pieces from their collections. No dues, no fees, no board of directors. Just lovers of Wedgwood sharing their treasures.

Four of them have some of their collections posted on the website, and there is at least one piece there from the late 1700s and several from the 1800s. Some of the other interesting items shown include: a cheese keep, hatpin holder, posey vase, pipe bowl and stand, Cambridge ale jug, tea poys, a ceiling plate for a chandelier (circa 1865), and more.

Under the “History” button, there is a photo of the Wedgwood Etruria Works Factory on the Trent & Mersey Canal from 1898. It was officially opened in 1769 by Josiah Wedgwood and then finally demolished in the 1960s. It was here that Josiah introduced the division of labor concept to his workers and increased their output. He also joined with others in getting the Trent & Mersey Canal built, which allowed his to easily transport Cornish clay to his factory and ship the finished product to Liverpool and Hull.

Josiah contracted smallpox at the age of 11 and later had his right leg amputated because of it. Rather than bemoaning his fate, young Josiah spent his time in recovery studying and researching pottery making. And his time was well spent. His work was purchased by royalty the world over, and it is lauded for its beauty today. Wedgwood collecting brought strangers together and made them friends. Maybe the U.N. should have a Director of Collecting to foster greater friendship and peace in the world.

 


Full-color cover illustration to the Pinky Winky Dog Book by Dorothy Whipple Fry; illustrated by L. J. Bridgeman, 1924.

Children’s Books Online: the Rosetta Project
http://www.childrensbooksonline.org/

This is not only a wonderful website for lovers of antique and vintage books, but also a heart-warming gift to the world. Guy Chocensky is president of the Rosetta Project, an online library about 200 antique and vintage books for children and adults. The illustrations are also posted in color, and the collection includes stories, poems, rhymes, novels, collections of short stories, etc. for every level of reader.

Some of the titles you will recognize; most you will not: Aladdin, or The Wonderful Lamp, Around the World in a Berry Wagon, Babyland, Four Footed Fold, Greta and Peter in Good Luck Land, Little Miss Muffet, Mother Hubbard and Her Dog, Pinky Winky Dog Book, Pumpkin Pie Stories, Punky Dunk and the Mouse, Sunbonnet Babies in Mother Goose Land, The Three Bears, Take Your Place in the Forest, Gulliver’s Travels, The Last American, Lullaby-Land, Rootabaga Stories, The Wonder Clock, The Bear Who Never Was Cross, The Bee Who Would Not Work, Bird Children, Bobbie Bubbles, Bo-bo the Pig Is Good and Bad, and many more.

The Rosetta Project started out as a one-man show with a handful of books posted on the Internet eight years ago. Now, it has grown to a volunteer-powered organization with a library of books and translations published no later than 1930. Actually, the bulk of the library dates from 1850 to 1930. In 2004, 228,000+ visitors to the site read 3.5 million pages.

The Rosetta Project is also translating books into other languages and recording them so kids can listen to these treasures online.

If you have an old book, you contribute it to them for posting on their website. Or in some cases, they will scan your book and return it to you. Or you can donate financially to the Rosetta Project at www.childrensbooksonline.org/donating.htm . It is a 501(c)(3) educational corporation, so contributions are tax deductible. Or you can send a donation to P.O. Box 808, Searsport, ME 04974.

This is a magnificent collection of books that Guy adds to every week. What a great collection and an outstanding way to share it with everyone!

Extremely rare pattern, sometimes referred to as “Blossom and Spades,” 9- to 10-inch bowls, peach opal, $375 and $550.

David Doty’s Carnival Glass Website
www.ddoty.com

Its popularity may have peaked in the early 1900s, but this iridescent glass is back. As chronicled by David Doty on his website, three of the top selling pieces of Carnival Glass sold in the five-figure range on eBay in 2004: an aqua oval Poppy Show plate by Northwood went for $27,877.77; a blue tulip-shaped punch bowl and base from Millersburg sold for $26,000; and another poppy plate by Northwood hit $25,099.

First sold by Fenton in 1908, this glass takes its name from it being sold to carnivals and circuses to be given away as prizes. Today, it has seen a resurgence in popularity among collectors.

David’s website is one of the most in-depth catalogs of a collectible that I have ever seen. It has Carnival Glass indexed by pattern, shape, motif and maker. There are an astounding 1,000 patterns listed along with their selling prices over the past few years, and more than 30 major categories of shapes with hundreds of subcategories of them. Prices listed were determined from a database of 90,000 sales over the past ten years.

Special pages are dedicated to photos and information on Australian Carnival Glass, oddities (such as a Mount St. Helens iridized ashtray made from volcanic ash), whimsies, stretch glass (a 12 inch Imperial Glass smooth panels vase in red sold for $1,300 in 2003 that page reports), lettering, decoration, common and unusual hatpins, and novelties and miniatures (a clock, buttons, a Buddha, horse bridle rosettes, a hollow banana and much more made from Carnival Glass).

The website had more than 7 million visitors in 2004. If you are a collector or have any interest in Carnival Glass, this should be a website that you visit regularly.

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