Mug has a handle on humour
Q. I inherited this mug and would love to know a bit more about it. I’m intrigued by the handle, which seems to show some sort of strange snake goblin that doesn’t seem to go at all with the floral design on the piece. It has a marking on the bottom showing part of a crown and the words “Patent Ironstone China” and stands 10 centimetres high and 14 cm across (4 by 5.5 inches). Why the strange handle? Anything you can tell me about it would be much appreciated. Mary-Louisa, Strabane, Ireland
A. Your scarce cider mug was made by C.J. Mason & Co., who made famous this very durable ironstone pottery. With the slightly panelled shape and the manufacturer’s mark, it can be dated to circa 1830. It is hand-coloured ironstone over a transfer outline in the ‘Vase and Jardiniere’ pattern. The colours and design with tree peonies are Asian-based and the snake or hydra handle is either symbolic of a guardian or just simply British humour. Finding early pieces like yours by this maker is difficult since almost all that turn up today are products of companies after 1850 making similar products or reproductions. Asking prices are high in England for these but in North America you can drink to a likely offer of $175.
Q. This is a commemorative spoon issued to honour the visit of the British monarchs to Canada in 1939. It was used daily as the sugar bowl spoon when I was young. I believe the first mass public rally in Toronto was at Riverdale Park. The front reads: King George V1/ Queen Elizabeth. The back reads: Commemorating The Visit of Our King & Queen to Canada 1939. It is also stamped with Wm Rogers & Son. Bill, Ottawa
A. Many historic events have been portrayed on spoons. This visit, taking place about two months before the beginning of the Second World War by the parents of Queen Elizabeth II, lasted a month during May and June and covered Canada from coast to coast. Massive crowds gathered in the major cities visited, as you said. This spoon is laden with symbolism including a Maple Leaf, and the Lancastrian Rose, Thistle and Shamrock, representing the roots of English, Scottish and Irish Canadians. Commemorative items have been produced and collected for years. This silver-plated spoon varies in price with the silver condition but generally brings about $25. It is a great reminder of the bond between Canada and the United Kingdom.
Q. This framed photograph was found in a shed at my parents’ cottage. The photo is 52 centimetres high by 81 centimetres wide (20.5 by 32 inches) and bears the script signature of ‘G.R. Lancefield, Ottawa.’ The caption title reads ‘Fitzroy Harbour Canada Atlantic Railway,’ and the frame is initialled ‘C.A.R.’ which leads me to believe that the assembly hung in their passenger railway car. My brief research of this company has determined that it continued to operate until 1914, at which time it was sold to another railroad company. Could you please let me know the value of the above-noted item. Jonathan, Dunrobin, Ont.
A. The railway was established by lumber magnate John R. Booth to facilitate his product transport. By amalgamation of small railways, he formed Canada Atlantic Railway Company in 1879. It caught on for public service and grew. He decided to sell it, and did so in 1914, to the Grand Trunk Railway after leasing it to them for 10 years. George R. Lancefield was a successful Ottawa photographer during the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose work includes interior photographs of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, a famous Sir John A. Macdonald portrait, and Canadian Arctic exploration. Oak frames with carved or applied title embellishments with original contents are rare, and this is also a rare photograph — probably used for a postcard view soon after its publication. There is strong interest in railway memorabilia, and your shed discovery is worth $250.
John Sewell is an antiques and fine art appraiser. To submit an item to this column, go to the Contact John page at www.johnsewellantiques.ca. Please measure your piece, say when and how you got it, what you paid and list any identifying marks. A high resolution jpeg must also be included. (Only email submissions accepted.) Appraisal values are estimates only.