Blue John Back in Demand

Prices for antiques and collectibles are determined by many things that change with time — age, availability, condition, decorative value, fame of maker, artist or past owner, and even who is bidding and if there is a bidding war. Most of these things change with time, so rare Beanie Babies that cost hundreds of dollars for the few years they were in demand are sold today in a dump display for a few dollars.

In the early 18th century, an attractive new stone was found in Treack Cliff Cavern near Derbyshire, England. It was a rare form of the mineral fluorite with bands of purplish-blue or yellow. It came to be called “Blue John.” Matthew Boulton, a famous manufacturer in the 1700s, made many urns and other decorative objects using Blue John. The stone became a symbol of British art and was wanted by the elite. Recently, a new vein of Blue John was found, the 15th known, and new jewelry and objects are being made.

A pair of antique Blue John and rock crystal obelisks recently auctioned for $2,176.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Sunday News-Register, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.