Artists often create many different kinds of art: paintings, etchings, prints, ceramics, jewelry, furniture, marble sculptures, bronzes and perhaps designs for commercial products. So it is possible to buy a piece of jewelry by Alexander Calder for far less than one of his large mobiles. Or an electric fan or pedal car designed by Viktor Schreckengost, who is best known for making the ceramic “Jazz Bowl,” an icon that has sold for as much as $200,000. Works by famous artists can be part of your collection if you buy war bond posters (Norman Rockwell) or advertising figures (Maxfield Parrish) or teapots (Michael Graves). Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932) was an American artist and decorator who worked in the American Orientalist style, influenced by his travels in India and the Middle East. By 1915, he had moved to California, and his paintings were typical California landscapes. Today collectors are again searching for some of his furniture, jewelry and textiles made after 1879 at the Ahmedabad Wood Carving Co. and later at Tiffany. De Forest’s furniture was modeled after chairs he had seen in Indian palaces. It was hand-crafted of teak, brass and other materials. A pair of 1881 chairs designed by de Forest sold for $242,500 at Bonhams New York in Sept. 2013. Bidding on the chairs may have gone that high because de Forest used them in his own home – and they were later purchased by William Randolph Hearst.
Q: I have a picture of a bouquet of flowers painted on porcelain. It is framed and there is a label on the back that reads “A Mottahedeh Design.” I would love to know more about it and its value.
A: Mottahedeh & Co. was founded in 1929 by Rafi and Mildred Mottahedeh. The couple had the largest privately held collection of Chinese Export porcelain in the world at that time. The company made reproductions of pieces in the collection as well as copies of other fine china. The reproductions were sold at Tiffany and Co. and gift shops. Mottahedeh also made reproductions of museum pieces, including items made of porcelain, brass, crystal, silver and stoneware. It has made reproductions for the White House, the State Department and several museums.. The company was sold in 1992, but it’s still in business, making reproductions. It has headquarters in Cranbury, N.J. Value of your painted porcelain plaque is about $150.
Q: I have a wooden coat hanger marked “W.J. Woods, Springfield’s oldest clothing store, established 1848.” The “arms” of the hanger can be folded so that it completely collapses for storage. Can you tell me when it was made?
A: The W.J. Woods Co. sold clothing for men and boys. It had stores in several cities in Massachusetts, including Springfield, Worcester, Utica, Providence and Brockton. It was in business until at least the 1920s.