Mould shopping and swapping in American glass

April 2023

Good Eye

Mould shopping and swapping in American glass

by Peggy Whiteneck

Moulded Glass

One of the challenges in collecting American art glass is identifying the maker, given the amount of mould swapping that took place between companies. This usually happened when a glass company went out of business and remaining companies acquired their moulds at auction. For example, a Kokomo (in business 1900-1905 and named for its Indiana town) Paneled Grape Creamer was made later by Westmoreland and a version was also sold by retailer LG Wright, for whom many companies produced glass.

For early 20th century glassmakers such as Fenton, Atterbury, Indiana, and others, glass moulds were made of cast iron, so buying and transporting them from one company to another was no easy feat. For example, the mould to make Fenton’s “Alley Cat” weighs 250 pounds – and that was one of the lighter ones! The 11” Alley Cat began its life with U.S. [Tiffin] Glass in the 1930s and was named “Sassie Susan.” Tiffin made it in two colors, black and white. Fenton acquired the mould from U.S. Glass in the mid-1960s and brought out its first Alley Cat in 1970, since made in numerous colors.

In researching this article, I found out that the smaller Happy Cat mould, today owned by the Fenton Art Glass Collectors of America [FAGCA], also began its life with Tiffin,* which made it in cold-painted black. I have also seen the mould for Fenton’s Donkey and Cart attributed both to U.S. [Tiffin] Glass and Duncan & Miller, but I’m skeptical of the Tiffin attribution because it seems to have a pony drawing the wagon vs the long, forward projecting ears of the donkey in the Duncan & Miller and Fenton versions.

Sometimes, mould swapping would involve more than two companies. For example, the Fenton Butterfly Box (model #6940) originated with Verlys, then passed to Hollophane before being acquired by Fenton, whose first production of it was around 2005.

Acquiring a mould didn’t necessarily mean success in using it. An example is the large Chanticleer rooster (model #5077) that began its life from a Fostoria mould in the 1950s before it was acquired by Fenton in 2004. Fenton experienced some of the same problems Fostoria did with this gorgeous but elaborate model: the tails simply didn’t want to come out of the mould without breaking. Glass formula didn’t seem to make a difference; Fostoria’s milk glass version had the same problems as Fenton’s Periwinkle Blue version, and Fenton never tried the model again.

Since the closing of its factory, the Fenton family has retained several of its moulds, occasionally renting them out to other glassmakers such as John and Ann Fenton (not related to the Fenton factory family) in Springfield, MO. While that company at first borrowed moulds from Fenton to make glass from Fenton cullet, John also makes his own glass models and Ann is a glass painter.

metal sign for Lee Jeans

Kokomo Glass

Kokomo was a short-lived company established in 1900 and succeeded by the DC Jenkins Glass Co. in 1906, Jenkins having been one of Kokomo’s founders. This 1905 Kokomo creamer is almost opalescent, and the wash is more orange than the nutmeg wash usually found on old custard. I have been unable to find other examples in this color; later examples of the mould in crystal glass were made by Westmoreland.
The two national Fenton glass clubs have long owned their own moulds, including the Happy Cat mentioned above, along with a smaller version called the Happy Kitty also owned by FAGCA, and a mouse model owned by the National Fenton Glass Society (NFGS). When the Fenton company went out of business, the clubs put in their bids for acquisition of favorite moulds to make future club glass. FAGCA, whose emblem contains a butterfly, was able to acquire the Butterfly on Branch, the Amphora vase (which sits in a metal stand), the lidded Temple Jar, and a few others.

Both the NFGS and FAGCA use Mosser Glass to create new issues from moulds the clubs acquired from Fenton. FAGCA has contracted with Davis-Lynch to make the Amphora vase. The National Stretch Glass Society has also acquired the Fenton Melon Rib #847 bowl and cover and the #1532 twin dolphin candy jar and cover. As you can see, original glass moulds are still making the rounds to keep collectors happy!

*As confirmed by FAGCA Board President, C.C. Hardman.

Peggy Whiteneck is a writer, collector, and dealer living in East Randolph, VT. If you would like to suggest a subject that she can address in her column, email her at

Collecting Rosenthal Figurines

March 2023

Good Eye

Collecting Rosenthal Figurines

by Peggy Whiteneck

Rosenthal Co.

Some of the most finely modeled porcelain figurines have been produced under the name Rosenthal. There are many sold examples on eBay and live auction sites in a very wide price range, from the low two figures for smaller animals to the mid-three figures for larger items. The company, still in business today, has a fascinating history.

The Rosenthal Co. was founded in 1884 by Phillip Rosenthal. It started out buying porcelain from the Hutschenreuther company (which Rosenthal actually acquired in 2000) and painting it at its own Rosenthal facilities. By 1891, Rosenthal was making its own porcelain.

The family was Jewish in name and family history if not in practice (some sources say Phillippe Rosenthal, Sr. was actually Catholic) and was identified as Jewish by the powers that be in the National Socialist takeover of Germany. The Rosenthals were forced into exile in the 1930s during the rise of Nazism. The company continued operating, with deteriorating results, through World War II under the dubious leadership of the Nazi party while the founder’s son, Phillippe Rosenthal, Jr., fought against the Nazis as a soldier during the war. At the end of the war, the Rosenthal family returned to Germany in an effort to regain control of their company, which they were finally able to achieve in 1950.

The company went permanently out of family control in the 1990s and is now run by Sambonet. The company retains the Rosenthal name and today produces mostly fine china such as dishware, but many buyers knowledgeable about Rosenthal continue to collect its older figurines. Like many of the German and Scandinavian porcelain companies, production year is identified by evolved changes in the mark itself and by a system of dots within the mark (photos of which marks evolution can be found in an online search).

Most information publicly available about Rosenthal figurines comes from the Internet. I’ve found only two books that cover the company, and they typically focus on the dinnerware and other household items: Rosenthal Dining Services, Figurines, Ornaments and Art by Dieter Struss, published by Schiffer in 1997; and Rosenthal, Excellence for All Times; Dinnerware, Accessories, Cutlery, and Glass by Ann Kerr in 1998, also published by Schiffer. Rosenthal figurines are not a significant part of either book, both of which focus primarily on dinnerware and other household porcelains.


metal sign for Lee Jeans

Rosenthal Angelfish

A rare and exquisitely detailed Rosenthal angelfish issued in 1947 and titled “Scolare Fleeing,” model #1766 by designer Fritz Heidenreich, sold at a Barnaby’s auction on May 25, 2020, for a smashing $550. Image courtesy of the author


Animal Figurines

Rosenthal is known not only for its animal figurines but for its Art Nouveau and Art Deco-style figurines of humans, many of them done entirely in white (unpainted) porcelain. Human figurines have a market all their own, and it is not unusual for Rosenthal renditions to sell in three figures.

Rosenthal’s nature figurines consist of animals (wild and domestic), fish, and birds, and these natural figurines are my own favorites. Some of the more complex groupings of animals, fish and birds appear amid very delicate moldings of water reeds, land plants, and flowers which may be subject to breakage, thereby reducing their value as long as pristine examples remain available. However, Rosenthal is not easy to find on the secondary market compared to availability of other porcelain figurines, which makes unbroken examples of the more complex and delicate models that much more difficult to find.

When it comes up for auction, the smaller figurines can be purchased affordably at $20 to $45, but larger or more complex figurines/figurine groupings can go well into the three-figure range. Auction prices seem to me slightly lowered from prices in, say, 2015 (, but as always, rarer figurines will command high prices on those few occasions when they appear at auction.

Perhaps Rosenthal’s most well-known figurine group is the series of white Laughing Rabbits standing upright and made in three graduated sizes ranging from 5” tall to about 1”. Over time, I’ve managed to collect all three of the sizes, and when I look at them, they make me laugh out loud!




Peggy Whiteneck is a writer, collector, and dealer living in East Randolph, VT. If you would like to suggest a subject that she can address in her column, email her at

About my father’s watch…

February 2023

Good Eye

About my father’s watch…

by Peggy Whiteneck

Antique Watches

Antique watches are a popular collectible – especially those made of gold. My dad had a watch like that, one that he wore each night when he dressed for his job as a security guard. The watch was solid gold, in good working order, and had belonged to his grandfather.

Dad worked the 3-11 shift, and when we kids were little, we’d ask as he was going off to work, “Daddy, can we hear the tick-tick?” My dad would take out his grandfather’s pocket watch and hold it to the ear of each child. Unfortunately, we were too small to remember the decorative detail on the case, which was less important to us than the sound.


Collecting antique watches

Watches with some age on them, especially pocket watches, used to be a popular collectible. Pocket watches were made in larger sizes for men and smaller for women. Some were made with sterling silver cases and can command prices in the low four figures. A solid gold pocket watch in working order is rarer and can command anywhere from four to six figures at auction, although some antique pocket watches in reasonable condition can still be found at prices in the low three figures. Much of what would be found and collected today, though, is plated and may not be in good working order.

Cases are usually decorated, and not all have the gold face cover that my dad’s had. Decoration on the case can have depictions of trains and other scenes but more commonly have Art Nouveau floral and leaf designs. Today, even the best antique pocket watches may show some minor wear on the case consistent with their age and use.

Wrist watches from the 19th and early 20th centuries and even earlier can cost as much as an antique pocket watch, especially wrist watches made by companies with names such as Rolex, Piaget, Patek Phillipe, and Breguet. The latter company dates from 1775 and produced timepieces for Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Pocket watches were also made by American companies with more familiar and well-known names such as Elgin, Illinois, and Waltham. Abe Lincoln reportedly was given a Waltham pocket watch after his Gettysburg Address.

metal sign for Lee Jeans

Melancthon’s Watch

Melancthon’s Watch is the earliest watch known, c. 1530, and was more appropriately a small table watch rather than a pocket watch. Perforations on the top allowed one to see the time without opening the watch. The case was gilded brass with iron movement. Image courtesy of the Walters Art Museum


About my father’s watch

If you have an antique watch you think you may want to sell, be sure that’s what you really want to do so you won’t suffer seller’s remorse later, especially if the watch is a family heirloom. Have the watch appraised and if you’re sure you want to sell it, try selling to a reputable jeweler. Broken watches can also be saleable for parts.

One day, my dad had cause to take his watch to a jeweler for a minor adjustment or a cleaning or some such. After remarking on what a fabulous piece it was, the jeweler asked my dad where he kept the watch. “What do you mean where do I keep it?” Dad said. “I wear it.”

The jeweler was horrified. “Oh, no, no, no. You don’t wear a watch like this! You keep it in a safe deposit box!”
After my dad died, and my mom three years later, one of the things their children searched the house for was my father’s pocket watch. We knew of one place where they had told us they’d hidden a variety of jewelry and other smalls, a place in the kitchen accessible by ladder and behind a wooden panel.

We were able to retrieve those items, but my dad’s watch was not among them. Nor was it in the deposit box at their local bank.
It’s doubtful Dad would have parted with it, so I hope we’ll find it someday in some hidden corner of my parents’ house. I also hope this tale will serve as an object lesson to readers: if you have small antique items of special value, economically or sentimentally or both, let your heirs know where those can be found!



Peggy Whiteneck is a writer, collector, and dealer living in East Randolph, VT. If you would like to suggest a subject that she can address in her column, email her at

Antique Advertising

December 2022

Good Eye

Antique Advertising

by Peggy Whiteneck

Old advertising items

Old advertising items can be a fun and affordable collecting gig, and there are many useful and interesting ways to enjoy them! The graphics are often colorful and the taglines are catchy.

Back in the days when books on collecting interests were being produced in greater numbers than they are today, there were collecting guides on advertising collectibles featuring everything from Cracker Jacks to automobiles. These can still be purchased on eBay and other online sites.

Wooden Boxes

Among the most functional old advertising collectibles are the wooden boxes that were used to transport vegetables, produce, and other consumables in the age before cardboard. Advertising for the inside product was often papered or painted on the wooden box ends. These boxes can be very functional for modern use as containers for cookbooks and other hard-to-contain household items. Crates with original labels still attached, and with both wood and label in fine condition, can be surprisingly expensive, probably due to their relative scarcity as items that were purely functional at their inception and not necessarily intended to last.

Cans and Can Labels

Years ago, in my favorite antique shop haunts in Vermont, I found a dealer who had happened upon a stash of what’s called “new old stock” consisting of original but never used paper labels for canned fruits and vegetables. These dated from the very late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were exceptionally colorful and detailed. I bought several of them that I still use to decorate the walls of my kitchen (A caution for serious collectors: original advertising labels, such as those this dealer was offering, have solid color; modern reprints feature telltale dot-matrix printing that is easily detected under a magnifying glass).

Many of these labels were produced by Olney & Floyd, which, before it morphed into its current identity as G.J. Olney Machinery (still family-owned by the third generation of Olneys), was a vegetable canning factory started by George F. Olney and C. Frank Floyd. The oldest of their canning labels date from the 1880s. By 1915, though, Olney & Floyd was already focusing, as it does today, pretty much exclusively on producing food processing machines. This makes the original labels from the early years of the company antique by any definition.

Metal Signs

Old metal advertising signs can also be found in antique shops. Collectors look for signs in good condition without serious paint damage. These can range from relatively small to signs that were large enough to be posted outside buildings, such as signs for automotive products made for use in commercial garages or signs for soda brands made to post outside general stores. As with paper labels, these have been widely reproduced, especially signs advertising Coca-Cola, so look for metal signs with signs of wear (which can also be produced by artificial stressing) such as rusting and other markers around fastening corners. Prices on these range from modest to close to outrageous. 

Kitchen Ceramics

The Pillsbury Co. was especially successful in getting its name before the public not only in baking products but in a series of ceramic kitchen sets featuring items such as cookie Jars, napkin holders, utensil holders, and salt and pepper shakers. These were made in two or three series, the most desirable to collectors being the first in 1988; these were actually marked on the base with the year of production. Later versions show design changes over time, ranging from slight to marked. All these official Doughboy issues had the name Pillsbury in a blue logo on the front of the chef’s hat’s rim. Even before that, Pillsbury made a Doughboy bank marked 1985 on the base and, in 1972 and 1973, a family of Doughboy toys in vinyl. Later versions of these vinyl dolls were also made, again with various design changes. All the Pillsbury Doughboy items are very affordably priced on the secondary market.

metal sign for Lee Jeans

Metal sign for Lee Jeans

A metal sign for Lee Jeans from the 1930s and taken from a building and measuring 11 3/8” X 23 ¾” sold on eBay in early November of this year. The seller wasn’t pulling any punches on its condition: ”Lots of Wear from over the years, Minor Bends, Surface Rust Thru-out, Some Old Paint Spatter & Drips and it is Filthy Dirty.” The hyper-honest description didn’t deter bidders: the item sold for $390 in a bidding war involving 57 bids! (Image courtesy of eBay)

Peggy Whiteneck is a writer, collector, and dealer living in East Randolph, VT. If you would like to suggest a subject that she can address in her column, email her at

Collectibles Commemorating British Royalty

November 2022

Good Eye

Collectibles Commemorating British Royalty

by Peggy Whiteneck

The year 2022 was the 70th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, who was still mentally robust but, at age 96, physically frail in the few photos taken of her this year. As it turned out, and as so often happens with close couples, she also died that same year, after losing her husband, Prince Philip, the year before. Not many have lived, as they did, to celebrate 74 years of marriage!

Elizabeth reigned for 70 years, nearly the lifetime of many Discover Vintage America readers, including me! That made her the longest reigning monarch in British history. As we know, those seven decades were tumultuous, not just in terms of what was happening in the world in general (first hydrogen bomb test, discovery of DNA, the Berlin Wall, etc.) but also within the royal family itself (divorce, tragedy, castle fire, etc.). Amid all the controversies, consternations, and calamities that would befall her family during her reign, Queen Elizabeth kept her royal counsel and her self-possession. Her unflappability, not to be confused for a moment with a lack of feeling, appears to have been part of what endeared her to so many of her countrymen: she was an emblem of stability even amidst unstable times.


Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth’s photo on memorabilia

Queen Elizabeth’s photo can be found on everything from tree ornaments to fridge magnets. This photo was taken not long before her death. She famously owned and loved horses and Corgi dogs. Image courtesy of Henry Ballal/Twitter

Royal Collectibles

Collectibles devoted to British royalty have long graced the antique trade. In fact, Queen Victoria and her lifelong devotion to her deceased husband, Prince Albert, whose life departed from hers after 21 years of marriage, inspired an entire era in the latter 19th century that was named after her. Victoria had one of England’s longest reigns, although, at 63 years, still short of Elizabeth’s. Examples of Victoriana can still be found in the antique trade, ranging from china to furniture. Victorian furniture even has a distinct look, heavy and made of dark wood and wood stains, that seems to reflect Victoria’s grief.

Among the commemorative items most found in antique stores are plates and mugs celebrating coronations, marriages, and royal births. Somewhat less often seen are pieces of commemorative silverware. There is also a collecting market for images of British kings and queens adorning coins minted in the era in which they reigned. Then, of course, there is the ephemera related to royals, from photographs to autographs. Due in no small part to both her glamor and her early demise, Princess Diana commemoratives are especially popular.

Because Elizabeth is the only British monarch to have reached the milestone of a Platinum Jubilee on the throne, collectibles related to that milestone are expected to increase in value. Second to her image in future value are collectibles celebrating the marriage of Prince Charles (now King Charles III) and the late Princess Diana. Biscuit tins, however, are common and not terribly valuable, though they could still be an interesting collectible for those more interested in what they commemorate than what they cost (


Even Stamps!

Queen Victoria’s son was the first royal known to have collected stamps. The collection came down through Victoria’s heirs, who were often indifferent to it, until it reached King George V, who was quite passionate about adding to it. Eventually, the collection was bequeathed to our own Queen Elizabeth, who made occasional gifts from it to other prominent philatelists. But even with such departures, the Royal Philatelic Collection remains the largest single collection of stamps from Great Britain and the Commonwealth (

Unusual Collectibles

Some royal collectibles can be unusual. A bicycle owned by Princess Diana when she was still Lady Di, before her marriage to Charles, sold in 2018 for 10,400 pounds ($11,500 in U.S. dollars) – and a pair of bloomers attributed to Queen Victoria sold for 12,000 pounds ($13,300) in 2012 (Not sure how a collector would display a pair of royal bloomers for which the buyer had paid that much, but “whatever!”). Despite these singular items, royal memorabilia celebrating coronations and jubilees remains both available and (mostly!) still affordable.


Peggy Whiteneck is a writer, collector, and dealer living in East Randolph, VT. If you would like to suggest a subject that she can address in her column, email her at