November 29, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: Pottery vase by Vally Wieselthier

Artists often create works in many different mediums — ceramics, painting, sculpture, jewelry and even metalwork. After World War I, many artists traveled to different countries and schools to learn new “looks” and techniques. England, France, Germany and Scandinavia were leading art centers.

Vally Wieselthier (1895-1945) was famous in Germany by the 1920s but almost unknown in the United States. She was born in Austria and studied under Michael Powolny from 1914 to 1920, then continued working with the artists of the new Wiener Werkstatte. She was a leading ceramic artist and designer making figurines, female heads, vases and more.

In 1929, she moved to the United States and worked in New York making large ceramic statues and also designed dinnerware for the Sebring factory in Ohio; ironstone dinnerware designs for Mayer Pottery in Trenton, New Jersey; and worked at Cowan Pottery in Ohio, where she introduced the Wiener Werkstatte style. She also designed glassware, jewelry, textiles, papier-mâché mannequins, furniture and even metal elevator doors.

With all her success and fame, few pieces are seen in U.S. auctions. Neal Auction Company sold an 8-inch-high Wiener Werkstatte vase made in 1925 signed with both “WW” for Wiener Werkstatte and “VW” for Vally Wieselthier for $1,037.

My aunt gave me a perfume lamp 50 years ago. It’s a figural dog sitting up and begging. It has perforations on the head, a place for the perfume in the back of the head and large glass eyes where the light can show through. Can you tell me something about perfume lamps?

Maurice Berger, a French pharmacist, invented the perfume lamp in 1897 when he added perfume to lamp oil or other liquid fuel. Electric perfume lamps that used a light bulb to heat the perfume were made by the early 1900s. The fragrance is emitted through small holes in the lamp.

Perfume lamps have been made in many different figural shapes and were made by manufacturers in several different countries. The lamp with a light bulb, but without the perfume inside, is often used as a nightlight. Today a battery-operated or plug-in product, diffuser or spray can be used to provide a pleasant scent to a room.

Current Prices

Silver plate, bowl, Candara, smooth organic form, marked, Lino Sabattini, Italy, 4 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches, $25.

Advertising, jar, Eat Tom’s Toasted Peanuts, clear glass, black script lettering, overhanging lid, red knob with Tom’s, 11 x 9 inches, $150.

Decoy, rainbow trout, wood, painted, shades of green, pink and teal, tack eyes, Miles Smith, c.1973, 9 1/2 by 32 inches, $280.

Jewelry, bracelet, bangle, Clic Clac, hinged with twisting H clasp, steel, inset enamel band, marked, Hermes K, 7 inches, $365.

Tip: You can safely store an old quilt by putting it on an unused bed and covering it with a plain coverlet or sheet.

Terry and Kim Kovel

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