Artists often express political ideas in their work, and many years later, collectors have trouble understanding the politics. Kirkpatrick/Anna pottery worked from 1839 to 1896 in Illinois and made pottery jugs and other useful containers. But they also created some very strange jugs. Pottery pigs marked with railroad routes were made in the 1870s and 1880s to give to politicians, important owners or employees of the railroads. Those pigs sell today for about $12,000 up to a record price of $35,000. But mysterious “Temperance” jugs were decorated with three-dimensional figures that can be confusing to someone from the 21st century. One spectacular salt-glazed jug, 10¼ inches high, was made with more than 18 applied designs representing the Civil War, slavery and the drinking of alcohol. There is a bust of a Union soldier with a goatee being bitten by a snapping turtle. The rear end of a man in red pants “going in” probably is a reference to the evils of alcohol that “trap” him in the whiskey jug. One of the many snakes on the jug is eating a thin, bearded man. The head of a man, perhaps Abraham Lincoln, is shown near an eagle. The head of a black man and loose pottery chains represent slavery. A man smoking a pipe and drinking from a mug, and a classical figure of a woman holding a lyre still are unidentified. The jug is well-marked, with the words “from Kirkpatrick Anna Pottery, Anna Union Co, Ills.” It may be the most amazing of all of the Anna Pottery message pieces, and it sold at a Crocker Farm auction in Sparks, Md., for $69,000 in March
Q: I have a glass compote with a frosted stem and foot. The stem has three female faces in relief. The clear-glass bowl has a pie-crust edge. Can you give me any information about it?
A: Three Face is a pressed glass pattern made by George A. Duncan & Sons, which later became Duncan and Miller Glass Co. It was designed by John Ernest Miller in 1878, and his wife supposedly was the model for the face. Three Face pattern glass was made until 1892. Original, early pieces sell for high prices; reproductions sell for about $100.
Q: I bought a “Vibro-Shaver” at a garage sale and would like some information about it. I have the original box and the instructions, but it doesn’t say who made it or the year it was made. It runs and is in excellent condition. It has the original price tag of $5. What is it worth today?
A: Vibro was advertised in a 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine as the only non-electric, automatic shaver made. The razor blade is held in the detachable head, which vibrates when the “key” on the front is wound. Shavers are not a popular collectible. Vibro-Shavers with original box sell online for $15 to $20 today.