Q: How much is my grandmother's ornate wooden breadboard worth? It's decorated with a beautifully painted white-and-yellow water lily in the center. There are more flowers and German-looking lettering around its rim.
A: Your elaborately painted mid-19th-century Germanic decorative breadboard was designed to be displayed, not used. It's worth around $150 to $200 in good condition, depending on )) where and how you decide to sell it, according to Linda Campbell Franklin, author of "300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles, An Identification and Value Guide" (Books Americana, 3rd. Ed.), This comprehensive price guide costs $25.45 postpaid from the author, 2716 Northfield Road., Charlottesville, Va. 22901.
More typical 19th- and early 20th-century breadboards are carved with mottoes like: "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread" or "Waste Not Want Not." They generally sell for $45 to $55, but be wary of reproductions, warns Ms. Franklin.
Newly carved boards can be sanded, bleached and finished to make them appear old to unsuspecting buyers.
Q: How rare and valuable are my two Russian beakers? One, made of earthenware by the Kuznetsov factory, commemorates the 1896 coronation of Czar Nicholas II. It's decorated with a shield of St. George slaying the dragon (Moscow's arms), the cipher of Nicholas and Alexandra, and a Cyrillic phrase that translates as "In remembrance of the Holy Coronation."
The other, of porcelain by the Gardner factory, commemorates the bicentennial of St. Petersburg's founding in 1903. It's decorated with a view of old St. Petersburg, the city's coat of arms, a Russian crown, the dates 1703-1903 and Peter the Great's cipher.
A: Thousands of commemorative beakers like yours are in collectors' hands around the world. The Czar Nicholas II cup is worth around $200 to $300 in good condition, and the St. Petersburg one about $150, according to Gerard Hill, a Russian works of art expert at Sotheby's auction house in New York.
Since the first Romanov's coronation in 1613, newly crowned czars traditionally gave gifts to invited guests and the people of Moscow. Nicholas II chose crystal and silver beakers for the VIPs and enameled copper beakers for the others. Kuznetsov, then Russia's largest manufacturer of ceramics, made copies, like yours, for sale as commemorative souvenirs; today they're generally less desirable to collectors than the enameled ones.
While workers were preparing to give away the copper beakers at Khodinka field, a military training ground on Moscow's outskirts, rumors swept the assembled crowd (estimated at a half-million) that there weren't enough beakers to go around.
A stampede ensued and more than 4,000 Russians were trampled to death, marring the start of Nicholas II's doomed reign and providing these beakers with their nickname: "Bloody Cups."
Q: I have a paper fan from the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, measuring 11 by 20 inches when expanded. The front is decorated with a street scene of Independence Hall between two blue banners proclaiming "International Exhibition 1876" and "Independence Hall Philadelphia 1776." The reverse side has sprigs of holly with berries, an American eagle above "100 years," and several American flags, one marked 1776, another 1876.
It's in excellent condition. How collectible is it?
A: It's rare to find a Centennial fan decorated with Independence Hall, since most Exposition souvenirs showed Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, where the celebration was held.
However, according to collector Set Momjian, centennial souvenir collectors also are scarce: the glut of undesirable Bicentennial souvenirs diminished enthusiasm for Centennial collectibles.
Your fan could fetch around $125 from someone who really covets it, he said, but don't expect it to move quickly.
Have a question about an antique or collectible? Write to the Solis-Cohens, P.O. Box 304, Flourtown, Pa. 19031-0304, enclosing a clear photo of the whole object and all marks, and noting its size. If you want your photo returned, include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Personal replies are not possible, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.
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