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This ice box predates mass-produced refrigerators; what is it worth? 10/3/2022 Jerry L. Dobesh,

This month, our collectors contributed a favorite auction find and family heirlooms handed down through generations, ranging from a pair of spurs from the American West to a cherished print from a child’s bedroom. Although our objects vary significantly in dollar value, their true worth to the owners is in the family history that they tell.

Refrigerator ice box

Q. I’ve always loved this oak ice chest. I bought it 40 years ago at an auction. It is in great condition and still has the porcelain lining inside. It is 40 inches tall. I would like to know how old it is or anything about it. K.S., Vancouver.

A. Your refrigerator ice box was made by the Indiana Manufacturing Company of Richmond, Indiana, and likely dates to 1905-1915. The sides and doors are insulated with cork underneath the porcelain. The box held a block of ice to keep the interior cold. The first mass-produced refrigerator with a self-contained compressor, intended for home use, was manufactured by William C. Durant in 1918. Within a decade, these became widely popular, replacing the cork insulated boxes. Similar boxes have recently sold at auction in the $350-$500 price range. Dealers specializing in American antique furniture are asking $1,000-$1,500 for boxes of similar age, size and condition.

Western spurs

Q. I have a pair of spurs with Native American portraits on them from my grandfather, who was a cowboy in Texas. Anything you can tell me will be appreciated. They are 6 ½ inches long and 4 ½ inches wide. P.S., Battleground

A. Your spurs were made by Buermann Manufacturing Co. of Newark, New Jersey. Founded by August Buermann in 1866, the company was one of the primary American makers of spurs, bits, and horse tack fittings from the later 19th and early 20th centuries until the company was sold in 1926. Buermann spurs are very popular with collectors. The star mark is Buermann’s maker mark. While marked “Hercules Bronze,” the spurs are of a sturdy bronze-colored alloy. The oval relief medallions are nickel silver. At auction, you might see a pre-sale estimate of $300-$500. A dealer specializing in antiques from the American West might ask $500-$700 for such a pair.

Silver cup

Q. This silver cup has been in our family forever. Can you tell me anything about it? It is 2 ½ inches in height. K.S., Vancouver.

A. Your sterling cup is for a young child and is commonly called a “Baby Cup.” It was made by T.G. Hawkes & Co. of Corning, New York, and dates to circa 1920-1930. Hawkes was a maker of fine-quality glass and silver items. At an auction, you might see an estimate of $25-$45 for the cup. A dealer specializing in American silver might ask $75-$125 for such a cup.

Cup and saucer

Q. I received this from my favorite aunt when she passed away. Can you tell me how old it is, or anything about it? P.S., Battleground.

A. While your cup and saucer present well together, they are actually by two different American makers. Both pieces are glazed ceramic. As you can see by the marks underneath, the cup is by Sabin Industries of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and dates to circa 1950. The courting couple transfer decoration in the interior is often thought to depict George and Martha Washington. The exterior is decorated with 22 karat gold. The saucer is by Homer Laughlin from the company’s Georgian Eggshell line. It was made in June of 1946 and is encrusted in 22 karat gold. While at auction, your pieces might not be expensive, perhaps $10-$15. Replacing them might cost $50-$60 from dealers who specialize in such collectibles.

Framed print

Q. This hung in my great grandfather’s room when he was a baby. We have always cherished it. What can you tell me about it? It measures 15 ½ inches by 12 ½ inches, including the frame. C.M., Portland.

A. Your “In Dreamland” print is after the original illustration by Susan Beatrice Pearse (British, 1878-1980), who was a well-known and popular illustrator of children’s books. This illustration originally decorated the January 1913 cover of Ladies Home Journal magazine. Your print was published by Edward Gross Company of New York City circa 1920, and the molded wood frame appears to be from that time. At auction, you might expect $20-$40 for this framed print. A dealer specializing in 20th-century decorative artworks might ask $100-$150 for this framed print, if in excellent condition.

About Today’s Collectibles

The values discussed for items featured in this column were researched by Portland appraiser Jerry L. Dobesh, ASA, an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers, with a specialty designation in Antiques & Decorative Arts. His services include providing appraisals for estate tax, charitable contribution, insurance scheduling and loss, and equitable distribution needs.

To find an appraiser, contact the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America. Estimates suggested in this Collectibles column are for general information purposes only and cannot be used as a basis for sale, insurance, or IRS purposes.

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