There are many unfamiliar names for antiques and even vintage collectibles. What is a collectible “dumbwaiter,” a “finger vase,” or a “swift” — and what is a “tazza” and how was it used?
The tazza originally was a large basin for bathing. But the meaning changed and by the 17th century — perhaps earlier — it became the name of a piece often used at a dinner party.
It is a shallow bowl or platter that is on a stem or footed base. It was used to display or to serve small foods or even for drinking.
In other words, it is a dish on a pedestal. The dish was decorated, and the pedestal was an elaborate and shapely piece of metal.
Cakebread Auctions sold a tazza that was a celadon, a Chinese export porcelain dish, on a gilt-metal mount with scroll-shaped legs. The tazza sold for $1,615.
If you’re wondering, the dumbwaiter is a wooden stand with round trays of graduated sizes held by a center pole. It has been in use since the 1720s.
The finger vase is a Dutch Delft vase with five tube-like holders for flowers arranged like the fingers on a hand. And a swift is an adjustable reel for winding yarn made of wood or ivory.
I bought a rectangular glass dish with a lid at a garage sale. The owner said it came in a refrigerator she bought years ago. The sides are ribbed, and there are pictures of corn and other vegetables embossed on the lid. The dish is about 8 inches long, 3 inches wide and 3 inches deep. What can you tell me about it?
Refrigerator dishes are sometimes called “leftover” dishes and were made in glass and pottery by several companies beginning in the 1920s and ‘30s. Some were given away with the purchase of a new refrigerator.
Your glass dish was made by Federal Glass Co., which was in business in Columbus, Ohio, from 1900 to 1980. Federal made refrigerator dishes in rectangular and square shapes, in different sizes and colors, and with different embossed decorations.
Not all Federal glass was marked, and marks on glass can be hard to find. Look for the letter “F” in a shield on the bottom of dishes.
Toy airplane, propeller, silver, radio controlled, U.S. Air Force, gas engine, 8 1/4 x 25 inches, $1,599.
Anna pottery, pitcher, frog, tree stump, oak branches, acorns, monkey handle, 1885, 13 5/8 inches, $2,090.
Slot machine, Jennings, Chief, $1, oak sides, chrome front, bonnet, c. 1940, 27 x 15 inches, $2,460.
Garden statue, girl caught in storm, bracing herself, marble figure, 1900s, 45 x 20 inches, $2,955.
Tip: Be sure copies of lists of valuables, photographs and other information can be found in case of an insurance loss. Give copies, make digital copies and tell a trusted friend how to find them. Do not keep them in the house.