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I FOUND THIS badge on the ground a while back, when vis­it­ing my par­ents’ farm just out­side of Pyra­mid Hill in Vic­to­ria. We have al­ways won­dered what it was and how old it is, and whether the ‘Reg 86’ mark­ing refers to 1886. We do know the shire was Gor­don at one stage. The lit­tle hook on the back fell offff only re­cently (try­ing to straighten it out!). We hope you can give us some in­for­ma­tion about this lit­tle fam­ily trea­sure. Fiona An­der­son, ED­MON­TON, QUEENS­LAND The Shire of Gor­don, near the north­ern bor­der of Vic­to­ria ex­isted from 1885 to 1995. This tag or badge is a regis­tra­tion for an an­i­mal, a dog per­haps. It might have been fi­fixed to a col­lar, but tags were also fi­fixed to cows’ ears. The num­ber might re­late to the year of regis­tra­tion, but I can’t be cer­tain of that. De­ter­min­ing more about the ob­ject might be dif­fif­fi­cult. I sug­gest that you con­tact the largest li­brary in the area GET­TING STARTED As­sess­ing the age of an item is not al­ways easy — just be­cause granny owned it, does not au­to­mat­i­cally make some­thing old. Granny may have bought it re­cently. There­fore the item might be new, or old, so we need to look for other in­di­ca­tions of age. Es­tab­lish­ing the age of sil­ver and ce­ram­ics is usu­ally the eas­i­est. Bri­tish sil­ver has marks that de­ter­mine an ex­act year and place of man­u­fac­ture, as well as a sil­ver­smith. Man­u­fac­tur­ers usu­ally mark Euro­pean and Aus­tralian sil­ver. Ce­ram­ics are sim­i­larly marked, al­though some Euro­pean pot­ter­ies muddy the wa­ters by mak­ing use of a mark sim­i­lar to that of a fa­mous, ear­lier fac­tory. Jew­ellery is more dif­fif­fi­cult be­cause it is less of­ten marked. Knowl­edge of style can help date it, but be­cause there have been re­pro­duc­tions and ask about the ex­is­tence of a lo­cal his­tory group. There may be some­one with lo­cal knowl­edge who can help. I HAVE HAD this blue and white jar in my pos­ses­sion for a num­ber of years. It stands about 3.5cm tall and, ac­cord­ing to de­tails on the base, it is made in Hol­land. Also noted are the num­bers ‘169B’, the word ‘Delfts’ and an­other I can’t quite make out. There is an im­age of a ram’s head and the word ‘ram’. Laura Roberts, DENILIQUIN, NSW Be­tween 1935 and 1945 the Ram fac­tory at Arn­hem in The Nether­lands used the ram head mark on their ‘Delfts blauw’ pot­tery. With its sil­vered lid this is a fifine ex­am­ple of the con­tin­u­ing tra­di­tion of Dutch blue and white ce­ram­ics. The flflo­ral de­sign dates back to when delft ce­ram­ics were fi­first made in im­i­ta­tion of Chi­nese blue and white porce­lain in the 16th cen­tury. How­ever, you can see how the orig­i­nal of pop­u­lar styles, such as Art Nou­veau and Art Deco, cau­tion is ad­vised. When dat­ing fur­ni­ture, style is of the great­est im­por­tance, but the cau­tious col­lec­tor looks at the sur­face for ev­i­dence of daily us­age. Sanding back and re­pol­ish­ing can con­fuse the is­sue.look for ev­i­dence of re­pairs, old and new, and dust and wear in less ob­vi­ous ar­eas. Th­ese too can be faked to make some­thing look older. When buy­ing any­thing old, think about the style and any marks that might as­sist in de­ter­min­ing use, age and a man­u­fac­turer. Then look for ev­i­dence of wear and tear. If an item looks new, it prob­a­bly isn’t an antique — it could be a re­pro­duc­tion or it may have been re­stored so much that its worth as an antique ob­ject has been de­stroyed. Chi­nese de­sign has been made to re­sem­ble typ­i­cal Euro­pean ce­ramic dec­o­ra­tion. The bot­tle was prob­a­bly orig­i­nally part of a set from a dress­ing ta­ble and would have in­cluded sev­eral difff­fer­ent shapes to ac­com­mo­date things such as make-up and jew­ellery. John Mcphee is an art his­to­rian who worked in art mu­se­ums for 30 years and was cu­ra­tor of Aus­tralian Dec­o­ra­tive Arts at the Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia.

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