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Victorian Christmas Toys, Games Were Popular Entertainment

Christmas toys were popular in Victorian times. Hundreds of different family card and board games were manufactured and sold. Today they are collectible as complete games or parts. The box decorated with an attractive Christmas picture of Santa and snow scenes can be propped on a shelf. The board for the game can be framed or hung with removable hooks. The playing cards often picturing children, Christmas characters or decorations can be displayed in groups or slid under the protective glass top on a table. Just the 19-by-10-inch board of “Game of the Visit of Santa Claus” was auctioned for $275 by Soulis Auctions recently. The game was made by McLoughlin Brothers in 1897.

Q: I bought a porcelain dresser set (powder jar and hair receiver) over a year ago. It’s marked with a crown over the letters “TK.” Below that it says “Czechoslovakia.” I haven’t been able to find any information about the trademark. Can you help?

A: This mark was used by Count Thun’s Porcelain Factory in Klasterec nad Ohri (Klosterle), Bohemia, Czech Republic, from 1918 to 1939. A porcelain factory was established at Klosterle in 1794. It operated under various owners and became Count Thun’s Porcelain Factory in 1819. The company was nationalized after World War II. There is currently a company outlet for Thun Studio Lesov in Klosterle.

Q: My china plate has the picture of a large church on it. The mark on the back is a circle with a “w” in the center and a crown on top. But I am confused because it has the name “Wheelock China” on the back — a company that worked in Rockford, Illinois before 1971 — and the word “Austria.” Why two different companies?

A: You must have a piece of souvenir china made specially for the Illinois company in Austria. Marks often include the importer’s mark, the name of the store it was made for or the maker’s mark. The church probably is an Illinois landmark.

Q: My mother gave a little dish to my father as a hint to stop smoking. When and why was it made, and is it valuable?

A: Your dish is probably part of a set of small ashtrays used at elegant tablecloth dinner parties in the 1900s. Since almost everyone over 18 smoked cigarettes, it was customary to put a small dish or urn at each table that held a few cigarettes and, of course, an ashtray. Between courses and after dinner, it was OK to light a cigarette or even a cigar. The dish was made by Copelan Spode, perhaps as early as 1900 but very popular after 1915. It is in the Italian pattern that is still made by Spode, an English company. The 6-by-9-inch dish was listed recently at $70 to $90 online, and one sold at a show for $58.

Q: I want to buy an original landscape painting of a street scene described as Paris in Victorian times with horse-drawn carriages, pedestrians and often umbrellas because of the rain. I keep seeing similar paintings at auctions. Only a few are signed by an artist. All the paintings have elaborate frames and are ready to hang. There are so many that I’m beginning to think they are new copies. Was the Paris-street-in-the-rain picture that popular in the 1890s? How can I tell if it is old or new?

A: The rainy landscapes were painted by many artists in Paris, and tourists bought the pictures from the street painters. But only a few of the artists became famous, and few of the paintings went up in value. Probably the best-known painter is Edouard Leon Cortes (1882-1969). His paintings were inexpensive until about 2000, but lately the auctions are getting $5,000 or more. Check the artist name on any of the landscapes. You may have a treasure.

Tip: Don’t hang a poster directly opposite a window; it will fade. Also avoid fluorescent light. The ink used on posters in the 1940s quickly turns blue.

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, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.


Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Cambridge Pottery dish, swan shape, Charleton rose, gilt, pale pink, crown tuscan, 1936, 5 7/8 x 5 3/4 inches, $35.

Leeds jar, perfume, creamware, ornate panel sides, raised foot, cover, impressed, 1800s, 10 inches, $220.

Phonograph, mahogany case, spring wind movement, nickel-plated hardware, original decals, 12 1/2 x 17 x 14 1/2 inches, $240.

Legras vase, cream, red-brown flowers, cameo, signed, 4 1/2 x 3 inches, $500.

Orrefors vase, green, fish, vegetation, colorless glass, marked, Edvard Hald, Sweden, 1957, 6 1/4 inches, $675.

Quilt, applique, red, green, yellow, flowers, vine, 1850, 92 x 100 inches, $740.

Meissen figurine, dancer, kilt, feather helmet and cape, Germany, 1924-1935, 9 1/2 x 6 x 3 inches, $875.

Redware cup, handle-less, manganese, lead glaze, New Market, Virginia, 1915, 1 7/8 x 3 3/8 x 1 7/8 inches, $935.

Cocktail table, gilt bronze, green marble bases, beveled glass top, pedestal, France, 1900s, 23 3/4 x 61 x 20 inches, $1,000.

TECO vase, matte glaze, impressed, W.B. Mundie, 11 x 5 inches, $1,250.


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