Q: Many years ago, we bought a Japp's potato chip can at a flea market. Does it have any value?
A: Indeed it does. As far as I know, the cans have not been reproduced.
Japp's wife developed a potato chip recipe and soon they, too, were sold from the truck. After the stock market crash in 1929, the snack called "Mrs. Japp's Potato Chips" was sold in one-pound tins.
After Pearl Harbor, the name Japp took on a negative connotation, so the company name was changed to Jays. As collecting happens, original Japp's cans became collector items. And now that Jays is owned by Snyder's, early Jays cans are beginning to creep up in value. So the wheel turns.
Potato chip cans are popular collector items. Associated with a favorite snack, the tins are attractively printed and bright. Good decor accents, they are pure nostalgia. As a Midwestern brand, Japp's (Jays) speaks to people from the area.
Checking a database on http://www.worthpoint.com, we saw that an original Japp's tin with some rust sold for $142.40 on eBay last year.
This is a good time to tell readers that paying for short term use of a price database such as worthpoint.com may become the only way to view a spread of current sales results. eBay has adopted a new format that makes it almost impossible to review recent sales.
Q: What can you tell me about this doll I bought at an estate sale? It winds up and the head moves forward and back.
A: The reader adds that the doll dressed in winter red was used in an ice cream store. Viewed in an image sent, she looks to be in very good condition. From the white hair and clothing, we peg her as a Mrs. Santa.
Smart collectors will recognize the doll as a type that dressed holiday windows when lavish displays were a competitive sport for department stores. Style and movement are typical for a circa 1940s-'60s window display. The number on the body is a mold number.
Then, display companies churned out a variety of animated figures for merchants. I suspect the shop owner got this figure for seasonal display.
When it comes to resale, collectors generally want a Santa pair. As only half of a pair, value is less.
Q: My mother bought this antique many years ago in an antique store, but I could not find any markings. Is it porcelain? Or ceramic? Who made it? Value? I can't get an appraiser to answer my calls. How do I get an assist?
A: Whoa! This reader wants to know a lot. For that kind of assessment, someone needs to eyeball and handle the piece.
Seen in an image sent, the piece seems to be a large bisque centerpiece. He writes that it is about 12 in. wide and about 10 in. high.
It's a well molded piece showing a sea cherub leading a prancing horse of the sea and a chariot across undulating waves. But we're looking at a partial view.
The finish is matte. Porcelain is a form of ceramic. I'm thinking that this is painted bisque, another ceramic. Fancy pieces such as this were popular around the turn of the last century and were made for a long time. Many were European, many unsigned.
It really needs to be seen. Ask a local antiques seller that you trust. Be sure they know ceramics. And offer to pay for their time and expertise.
AUCTION ACTION: Big diamonds sold big at auction earlier this year. A cushion-cut fancy intense pink stone of 34.65 cts. sold for $39.3 mill. at Christie's New York. That's over $1 mill per carat. Called the "Princie" for a young Indian royal, the pink came from the famed Golconda mine in India. The stone sold to a buyer bidding by phone, and the result set a world record for a diamond at auction.
The same month, Sotheby's New York moved a 74.7 ct. pear-shaped white diamond for $14.2 mill. In the same sale, a diamond and emerald brooch set with a 22.48 ct. Colombian emerald brought almost $3 mill.
Q: Technically, bisque is unglazed porcelain or earthenware that's been fired only once. On the Continent, it has another name. Is it: Paste, basalt, faience, biscuit, or majolica?
A: The answer is biscuit. Purists still call it that.
(Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.)