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Umbrella stand imported from China is worth $500-$700

Enclosed are pictures of an umbrella stand that has been in my family for a long time. It is 25-inches tall and 10 inches across the the top. There are no names or markings. Family history is that my great-grandfather, who died in 1932, was a doctor in Maine. He would buy from the Chinese residents when they came there to sell their goods. He gave the stand to his daughter and my mother inherited it. I received it in 1988. I would appreciate it if you could tell me if it has any value today and how to sell it.

Since the great clipper ships began trading with Asia in the early 18th century, traders in the United States and Europe have imported vast quantities of porcelains, tea, silks and other Chinese trade products. Even when there were blockades by the British in the War of 1812, this country found ways to continue to receive Chinese goods.

Porcelains from China and Japan were prized above all else and their ownership was limited to the royal courts of Europe. By the middle of the 18th century, factories in Asia were turning out thousands of pieces of porcelain for the western markets. The popularity of Asian ceramics lasted through the 19th century but began to taper off as the century ended.

By the middle of the 19th century, America had so many pottery and porcelain firms that the demand for Asian goods began to soften. France, Germany and England were also exporting tons of porcelain and pottery to the United States by the end of the century.

Your nicely decorated Chinese umbrella stand dates from the 1870 to 1914 period. The all-over decoration is typical of the ceramics made for export to the West. Asian countries preferred form over decoration.

It could be that your great-grandfather bought the umbrella stand from a Chinese merchant, but it is more likely that he acquired it from a merchant who had imported it. There was a lot of trade between China and the New England coastal towns like Portsmouth.

The market is soft right now, but your umbrella stand is worth $500 to $700 at this time.

Enclosed are photographs of a piece that is 3-by-6-by-4-inches high. On the bottom is inscribed “Copyright 1946, Imperial Porcelain Company, Zanesville, Ohio.” On the back is the script name “Paul Webb.” What can you tell me about this?

I enjoyed researching your piece. The Imperial Porcelain Corporation existed from 1946 to 1960. Zanesville was home to a lot of the most important ceramic manufacturers like Roseville and Weller as well as other companies.

One of the first products produced at Imperial was a series of figures called the Blue Mountain Boys designed by Paul Webb. In the terms of the day, these were called hillbilly figures as they depicted rural folks of Appalachia. One of my source books referred to Paul Webb as the creator of the Lil Abner cartoon strip.

This is incorrect as Al Capp was the cartoonist who created and drew the Lil Abner cartoon strips.

There was not a great deal of information on Paul Webb, except that he was one of the cartoonists for The New Yorker magazine, a prestigious position. These figures were made for about 10 years. Some of the pieces I saw were ashtrays that also held a cigarette pack, salt and pepper shakers, and mugs with figural handles.

I saw a pitcher for sale for $650 and a salt and pepper set for $144. Then I saw an ashtray for $20, but the paint was flaking. If your piece is in perfect condition, it is probably worth $50 to $60 but will be much less if missing any paint. Whatever the value, you have a nice piece of Americana.

Julie McClure, who has 30 years of experience in the appraisal business, is a member of the Appraisers Association of America. Her company, Appraisals and Sales by Julie McClure, Inc., is based in Bradenton (wwwappraisals4u.biz).

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