Tips for selling antiques for greater success

April 2024

Good Eye

Tips for selling antiques for greater success

by Peggy Whiteneck

Antique buyers have more types of buying options today than they did 15 or 20 years ago. The Internet and online auctions have revolutionized the antiques trade. However, that also means problems, such as age or identity misrepresentation and damaged merchandise from sellers who don’t know how to pack and ship safely.

Today, there are fewer live-market options to buy and sell as the antiques trade has consolidated and retracted over the past 20 years. Still, live sales in antique shops, live auctions, or antique shows are an actual advantage for dealers and buyers alike because buyers value the chance to see and handle the merchandise before committing to buy it.

It takes conscientious work to be successful in live sales of antiques and collectibles, though. Here’s some advice I’ve found helpful in my own sales as I’ve grown into the trade.

Do your homework.

If you don’t know what it is, don’t sell it ‘til you do (Ah, what self-discipline that takes!). Once you do know, clue the customer in: What is it? Who made it and when? Why might a buyer want to have it? Don’t insult the reader’s intelligence with tagging like this: “Glass dish, $20.” The customer can see it’s a glass dish without your belaboring the obvious. Your tag should give the browser a reason(s) to buy – and a reason to trust you as a preferred dealer.

Deal in decent merchandise.

There is still so much damaged, defective, and just plain inferior merchandise in the trade that any dealer with quality inventory will stand out. Savvy buyers may still want to buy items with some wear that are extremely difficult to find in undamaged condition. That shouldn’t be an excuse to use your trade displays as a means of divesting of readily available and marginal “stuff” of a type that your customers already have enough problems of their own knowing what to do with.

Keep it clean.

There’s a difference between “patina” and “grunge.” If an item is dirty and can be readily cleaned with a bit of soap and water or other non-abrasive cleaner without damage to the item itself, clean it before displaying it. Also, if you’re renting space in a multi-dealer shop, the staff is probably not going to dust your display. It doesn’t help your sales if the shelf itself is dusty or dirty.

Rotate your merchandise often.

If it’s been there for longer than three or four months, it’s already stale in the eyes of frequent shoppers. Move it out and replace it with something else. You can “recycle” it months later to attract a second look. At least move things around in your display. It’s remarkable how something overlooked in one position can suddenly acquire a new sales life when moved somewhere else in the display.

Display it like you care about it.

What doesn’t help sales is a place that looks like individual items have been tossed in there or stacked higgledy-piggledy rather than thoughtfully situated to their best advantage. Many displays are arranged so thickly and haphazardly that it’s hard even to see what’s there. If you don’t respect it, why should a buyer?


Coudersport Duck on Nest

Antique LaRose hat box

Antique LaRose hat box dating to the 1920s with the original retail sticker for the Leavitt Co. on the lid. It has some wear on the edge of the lid but is otherwise in surprising shape considering its age – and that it’s made of cardboard. I found another box online with the same graphic on the body and with a sale price of $245. That photo seems to show better condition – except that the fine print says the bottom is falling out. A much lower price would move it much more quickly. (Image courtesy of the author)

Price it right.

If you don’t care how long it sits there as long as you get your optimal asking price, well, good for you. But if you really want to sell it, price items affordably – which doesn’t mean you have to sell on the cheap, just that you don’t have to aim for a triple-digit profit percentage on every item you sell.

Mind your reputation.

The best dealers are ethical in their relations with customers and other dealers. Don’t try to hide that chip in the pottery with shoe polish or magic marker. Don’t make offers on merchandise already reasonably priced so that you can brag about how you screwed the dealer by shaving off his meager profit. What goes around comes around.

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 Japanese Kutani and Satsuma Wares

March 2024

Good Eye

Collecting Japanese Kutani and Satsuma Wares

by Peggy Whiteneck

I generally prefer collecting Japanese to Chinese antique pottery and porcelain. This is because, in China, the practice of honorifics, in which late items are marked as being from earlier dynasties, is common. At least in their pre-Internet forms, these later honorifics were not intended to deceive; they were made as a kind of homage to the artists and eras that inspired them. Consequently, my efforts to date a piece of Chinese porcelain are fraught with problems that are beyond the expertise of an amateur collector like me (It’s also true that most of the worthwhile antique Chinese porcelain is in collections already, not seeking buyers on eBay). I found that Japanese porcelain was at least somewhat easier to date and authenticate as to age.

Japanese pottery and porcelain types most commonly seen on the secondary market include Kutani and Satsuma. They generally date from the Meiji (1868-1912) to the Showa (1926-1989) periods. The two types are usually clearly distinguished from each other. Most Kutani porcelain has painted surfaces (landscapes, flowers, and/or people) surrounded by scrolled red diapers (a red framing called Akae). Satsuma is a pottery often found with raised enameled paint on a crackled, cream-colored background although there are many other decorative variations as well.

More About Kutani Porcelain

Kutani is most often found marked with Japanese characters spelling that name. Sometimes, a piece will be marked with a painter’s signature (in Japanese characters), but dating can be complicated since both names and careers were often passed from father to son.
Experts generally divide the types of Kutani into “Old Kutani” (17th century ff) and the more frequently seen and newer (19th century ff). Old Kutani was made in a wide variety of styles, often with strong geometrical decoration (Nancy Schiffer, “Japanese Porcelain, 1800-1950,” Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1999, p. 194).

Later Kutani items are plentiful on the secondary market here in the States. Kutani varies widely in the quality of its decoration, from very fine to slap-dash. For my own collection, I’m very picky about quality of the decoration and prefer painted motifs that are unusual rather than the small groups of Japanese women commonly seen on this ware.

Asian views of symmetry differ from those in the West in that the former are less hung up on a completely symmetrical match in tableware. Thus, an inexact match in cup and saucer, for instance, would not have troubled them. As a related point, a full “set” of tableware in the West is even-numbered, while, in Japan, a full set consisted of five place settings.

Satsuma Pottery

Satsuma was made in a variety of shapes and forms, e.g., tea sets, vases, boxes, and figurines. Like Kutani, Japanese Satsuma pottery was a multi-generational enterprise, and this can complicate efforts to date individual items. In Satsuma, there were 17 generations of potters in the Kozan family and seven in the Kobayashi (Kinkozan)!

Decoration in Satsuma may be of either a moriage (raised) type or simply painted on the flat surface. In some examples of the latter, the decoration covers nearly the entire surface. Gilt dotting in the background of painted scenes is a common feature in Satsuma. Even when just the slightest bit of pottery itself is visible amid the paint, the characteristic Satsuma crackles are evident.


Coudersport Duck on Nest

A Satsuma covered jar

A Satsuma covered jar in the style typical of the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Items in this style were seen often on the secondary market just a few years ago, less commonly now. The enamel painting is raised, and the crackle in the glaze on the body is very fine. The top for the jar is also painted with budding pink branches and a butterfly. Unlike much of the Satsuma in this style, this one is signed by the artist under the butterfly at the bottom of the jar. (Image courtesy of the author)

Relief decoration, in which the moriage stands out from the surrounding pottery, was difficult to make. In some moriage, the decoration is separately applied by hand. In other examples, it is molded in relief on the surface of the object. Moriage of whatever application was difficult to make because failure to fire at the correct temperature for the correct time length could lead to unsightly boiling of the enamel (Sandra Andacht, “Treasury of Satsuma,” Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 1981, p. 50). The presence of Gosu Blue and turquoise is characteristic of earlier Satsuma, while pink comes into the coloration later.

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

Celebrating American Stretch Glass

February 2024

Good Eye

Celebrating American Stretch Glass

by Peggy Whiteneck

This year, the American Stretch Glass Society celebrates its 50th anniversary ( The group holds an annual convention and show, this year scheduled for Aug. 15-17 at Comfort Inn in Denver, PA, the place where the Society was founded. It also holds regular educational programs via Zoom on various stretch glass topics, makers, and types. Log on to its web site and check it out!

On this golden anniversary year for the Stretch Glass Society, I thought stretch glass would be a great topic for my regular “Good Eye” column this month. Although the very first stretch glass was produced in lamp shade forms in 1912, this glass type didn’t become available in a variety of other forms until 1916. Some of those forms included bowls, vases, plates, candlesticks, beverage sets, and perfume bottles (Plates were made starting with a basic vase shape and then flattening it out). Early stretch glass is distinguished from other Depression era glass by its lengthier and more complicated two-stage production process.

Stretch glass was produced by spraying a metallic salt mix on the glass while it was still hot and then reheating and reshaping (stretching) it, which caused thousands of minute striations, most visible on the edge or lip of the form. This glass was made in pressed or mould-blown patterns that are usually (though not always) undecorated and un-patterned. American Stretch glass is no longer being produced, so examples today can only be found at auction, in antique shops, or elsewhere on the secondary market.

Stretch glass was produced by several companies, at least some of which will be familiar to readers of this column: Central Glass Works (Wheeling, WV); Diamond Glass-Ware Co. (Indiana, PA); Fenton Art Glass Co. (Williamstown, WV); Imperial Glass Co. (Bellaire, OH); Jeannette Glass Co. (Jeannette, PA); Lancaster Glass Co. (Lancaster, OH); H. Northwood & Co. (Wheeling, WV); United States Glass (Pittsburgh, PA); and Vineyard Flint Glass Works (Vineland, NJ). Some of these ceased glass production earlier than others; Northwood, for example, closed in 1925.

When seen in the wild, many of the forms of stretch glass made by different companies look so similar that specific manufacturers can be difficult to tag. For example, Fenton, Northwood, and Cambridge all made a very similar tall, footed candy jar, in a style sometimes referred to as “Colonial,” which are only subtly distinguishable from one another. The diagnostic difference between Fenton jars and the nearly identical ones made by Northwood are that Fenton has a straight lid lip while Northwood’s is indented at the top of the lip and has a cover mould seam on the right of the raised ray that appears left of the ray on Northwood. Those made by Cambridge are distinguishable by two narrow rings just above the panels and lack the ribs between panels that are found in the Fenton and Northwood examples. Early Fenton examples of this candy jar were done in stretch glass.

While most stretch glass colors were in clear, iridized form, US Glass made some opaque examples, with lesser quantities and types of opaque stretch also made by Northwood. It’s sometimes difficult to see the stretch effect in these opaque forms.


Coudersport Duck on Nest

American Stretch Glass

A closeup of the edge of a stretch glass item showing the striations that are the defining characteristic of this glass whatever the manufacturer. In some stretch glass examples, the effect will be more muted than it is here. (Image courtesy of the author)

 Stretch glass production ceased altogether in the 1930s as companies sought simpler production processes (Fenton, however, picked up stretch production again around 1970 and produced it till around 2010, a year before the company closed). Colors in stretch glass by its various manufacturers were deliciously myriad, whether production was early or late. Because the production years of most stretch glass spanned the teens through the ‘30s decades of the 20th century, it is sometimes included in discussions of Depression glass. However, its forms and production processes make stretch glass a unique form in comparison to the less expensive and more easily produced patterned glass made by a variety of companies in the Depression era.


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

Kitchenware in the hearth and heart of the house

December 2023

Good Eye

Kitchenware in the hearth and heart of the house

by Peggy Whiteneck

Old kitchenware, from pots and pans to small utensils such as mixing spoons, large draining spoons, jar openers, egg beaters, and so on, is not only an affordable option for collectors but is also usable and practical in modern kitchens. Many of these were better made than their modern equivalents, which is why the older versions have lasted in the preferences of today’s cooks.

Mom preferred the various small kitchen utensils she found on the secondary market. Many of these, such as large cooking spoons and egg beaters, had wooden handles, usually painted red or green. One of the most useful items she passed on to me was a jar opener that I often use today to remove stubbornly clinging jar lids. This item was also made with green handles as well as red. Items with the paint on handles in good condition are especially sought.

Mom had a special fondness for antique egg beaters, which appeared in antique shops in a surprising array of styles – and, yes, she still used many of them until she passed. She especially liked old graters and beaters that were screwed onto glass containers that could collect what was being chopped or ground.

Guys, too!

My dad was also fond of working in the kitchen, years before cooking became popular among men. His favorite utensils were cast iron frying pans of various sizes from the very small to the very large. His favorite brand was Griswold, manufactured in Erie, PA, for almost a hundred years, from 1865 to 1957. Wagner is another brand of old iron skillets popular with collectors. Prices today on old cast iron pans can be in the low three figures.

Keeping cast iron pans in good shape is a surprising, if easy, challenge in a process we probably wouldn’t dare use with modern cookware. Dad always took preemptive charge of cleaning these pans after use because Mom was obsessed with using dishwater to clean them, which Dad said increased the chance for rust in the iron and also caused food to stick to the heated surface when the pan was next used. Dad simply dry-wiped the pans clean after use so that a film of oily patina remained on the surface. After my dad used these pans and retained their patina, food never stuck to them. If my mother had gotten to cleaning the pan first her way, he’d season it with oil before putting it away (we never got sick!).

Kitchen Pottery

Not everything made in the past for kitchen use was made in metal. Pottery was popular in everything from kitchen mixing bowls to cannister sets.

Some of the oldest of the mixing bowls were yellowware, sometimes accented with a wide, colored stripe near the rim. Other examples of pottery and ceramic kitchenware included cannister sets for ready access to basic ingredients such as flour, sugar, coffee, tea, or salt (Some cannister sets could also be found in metals such as tin, and these were often quite a bit more colorful than the ceramic versions).


Coudersport Duck on Nest


Because I was so taken with its imminently practical function, my mom gave me one of her old jar openers, whose handle can be used to vary the size of the lid- gripping portion beneath the handle. The top of the metal portion is engraved with the following: TOP-OFF JAR & BOTTLE SCREW TOP OPENER, EDLUND CO., BURLINGTON, VT. PAT. NO.1894556. These were popular in homes of the 1930s and ‘40s. The Edlund Co. is still in business today in Burlington, VT, making restaurant can openers and kitchen equipment. They can be found on the secondary market in variable condition, from beat-up to nearly mint, for $20 or less. Most old kitchenware is similarly affordable. Image courtesy of the author


Ceramic cookie jars are another favorite among collectors, some of whom have several jars in their collection despite the room they can take up. Cookie jars were usually figural, i.e., in the form of people (heads and full bodies), animals, or buildings. Among the most desirable were those made by companies such as McCoy and Shawnee.

Some later cookie jars that might be described as “vintage” were made as advertising pieces with names on them, such as Crackerjack and Pillsbury. Pillsbury made an entire set of Doughboy ceramic cannisters, spoon holders, and other items. The oldest of these date from the 1980s and are marked as such on the bottom; these are the most desirable from a collecting standpoint but were made as well in one or two later series. These later items tend to differ slightly in form from the 1980s set.


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 Miniature Porcelain Critters

November 2023

Good Eye

Collecting Miniature Porcelain Critters

by Peggy Whiteneck

When I was a kid, I collected bone china animals. These were not expensive to buy nor worth much money, but I sure did enjoy them. The adults in my family enjoyed them, too, as they could give them to me as gifts without breaking the bank!

Well, I’m a big girl now, and I still love ceramic miniatures, but now I only collect those marked at least with country of origin (usually Germany) and often with a famous maker name if it will fit on the base. Some of these are worth quite a bit more money than were items in my childhood collection.


An American company, Hagen-Renaker, is among the best-known manufacturers of miniature animals. Founded in 1945, it ceased operation in 2021. HRs were usually sold attached to thin cardboard labels that identified the name and retail price of the item. The labels were designed to be removed and usually were. When that happens, there is no place on the figurines to put a maker’s mark; one learns to identify them by sight. Most can still be found for less than $5 apiece on the secondary market though some rarer items go much higher. You can find the most recently made examples of HR animals on the Hagen-Renaker web site, which, as of this writing, is still up at

Josef Originals

This U.S. company, which operated from the mid-1940s until 1985, made mostly human forms, but it also made a few miniature animals. Perhaps the best known of these are its mice in various poses and playing with various objects. Slightly larger than Hagen-Renakers, they still can fit into miniature display spaces. Like HR, these are affordably priced.

And Then There’s Germany

Although they aren’t always marked with a manufacturer’s name, these minis are usually at least marked “Germany.” They are exceptionally well made as Germany has a long history of porcelain production.


Best known for its post-WWII era Hummel models of children, Goebel also made animal figurines, some in miniature (of which I have a lynx, rabbit, and deer in my collection). The company was founded in 1871 and is still in production today.


Pfeffer (sometimes misspelled by sellers as Pfeiffer or Pfeifer) was in production in the Thuringia region of East Germany from the late 19th century to sometime in the 1940s. It is usually marked in green or gray with either a capital P inside a capital G or a reversed F sharing a spine with a P. In my own collection, a couple of miniature polar bears were relatively expensive in 1999 at $35 each, but I found the perfect-condition sow and piglet figurine teetering on the edge of a shelf in an antique mall for just $7 the following year.

Coudersport Duck on Nest

Three Art Deco-style animals

Three of the Art Deco-style animal miniatures from my little shadow box. The only one of these marked with a Metzler & Ortloff mark and probably designed by Walter Bosse is the rabbit at left. The dog and cat are done “in the style” and marked simply “Germany.” (Image courtesy of the author)


Metzler & Ortloff

Founded in 1875, this company was nationalized and its name and mark changed in 1972. Items in my own collection date from before 1972 and are marked with MO and a crown in a circle. A number of animal models were made by the artist Walter Bosse in the 1920s. Called “Groteskes,” they featured painted stripes, polka dots or other geometric accents. These Bosse grotesques usually command huge prices, even on eBay, where unattributed “Made in Germany” knock-offs of his work still pull in $35-$50 apiece.


Best known for its sizeable Art Deco human figurines, Rosenthal also made some animal models, including some in diminutive size. Rosenthal was founded in Germany in 1891. The Nazi Reich stole the factory from the Rosenthal family, which was finally able to get it back in 1950. The company, which still operates under the Rosenthal name today, was purchased by the Waterford Wedgwood Group in 1997, which also acquired Hutschenreuther in year 2000. Rosenthal is among the most expensive of the German porcelains; even the miniatures can run over $100, larger figurines much higher.

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