Is this kiddush becher an authentic antique?
Based on the photo of the hallmarks you provided, your goblet was made between 1896 and 1908, as it bears the first version of the “Kokoshnik mark,” a type of mark that Tsar Nicholas II decreed should be part of a new hallmark system for silver made in the Russian Empire. However, the initials of the maker itself are in Cyrillic, and I could not identify exactly who the maker was, as I could only compare the initials to what makers I could find, and there were no matches. So until the identity of the maker is revealed, I can only tell you that your goblet could have been made in Moscow, Riga, Odessa, Warsaw, or any part of the territory under Russian rule at that time.
In this case, however, the identity of the maker does not have any bearing on the value of the goblet itself, which is $100-$125. Although you have used it as a piece of Judaica, it cannot be defined as such in the strictest terms, as it was made for the public at large, both Jewish and gentile.
I read your recent article about Judaica rarities with much pleasure. I collect various pieces of Jewish art, and I have a collection of Iranian-made Jewish tiles. I try to purchase tiles that combine to form a scene, are more than 100 years old, and are originally made in Iran, although I think I have some fakes that are beautiful in themselves. One of my favorite sets of tiles is composed of four large tiles, each tile measuring about 12 x 14 inches and 1/2-inch thick. Do you have any idea where and when these tiles were made? Do you think they have significant value? From my research (digging around in books and asking people), I think these were made in Iran in the early 1900s and placed somewhere in a synagogue. But this is just a guess. Thank you and please keep up your educational writing for people like myself who really enjoy reading about Judaica art!
What a fascinating set of ceramic tiles you have! The output of Judaic tourist-ware from Iran was enormous during the period of the 1950s-70s, and I recognize this type of painted tiles as being Iranian in origin, likely from that era. I was prepared to tell you that your set of tiles is part of that group of tourist-ware, but upon researching your item, I was pleasantly surprised to find a tile with some design similarities that sold on April 20, 2007 at Christie’s in London for 540 pounds (at that time equivalent to $1,070), and the lot was titled “A Qajar Tile made for the Hebrew Market, Iran, 19th Century.”
So I am going to give you two values: If your set of tiles does indeed date to the late 19th or very early 20th century, based on that Christie’s auction price (which was in the Indian and Islamic Works of Art sale), your set is worth $3,000-$5,000. If, however, it is determined that it is tourist-ware made after 1950, the value is $600-$800.
This Seder plate was in my ex-husband’s family for a long time. Everyone who would know something about it has passed on. There are no markings on the back to indicate anything. It has been wrapped in a plastic cover whose only markings are a price tag from G. Fox & Co., an old department store in Hartford, CT. I don’t know if that’s where it came from or if it was stored in the plastic, which could have been from something else.
I also have an old siddur I’d love to know more about. It belonged to my father when he was in the Haganah. It is in terrible shape, torn, the cover no longer attached, and missing the first 25 pages. It measures 2-1/4 x 4 inches. The cover says Bezalel Yerushalayim. Is this a museum piece, is it worth anything, or do I relegate it to a genizah?
South Burlington, VT
I am familiar with this Seder plate, as I have seen other examples over the years, including in colors other than your pink – including blue, red, and green. Although it appears to be hand-painted, it is not; the decoration was applied from a pattern and is known as “transferware.” Although many antique dealers definitively state that your type of plate was made in Europe between 1900 and 1935, I am hesitant to agree with that conclusion, for two reasons; 1) As you noted, there are no markings on the reverse of the plate, which is highly suspect for pre-war European porcelain, and 2) Some years ago, I was in a home doing an appraisal where a woman had an example of your plate, and she told me her parents purchased it brand new from Bloomingdales in the 1950s. That example as well as the other plates I have handled lacked any markings.
Therefore, like with the previous reader’s question about her tiles, I am going to give you two values: If it can be determined that the Seder plate is from pre-war Europe, the value would be $300-$500. If, however, it does date to after 1945, the value is only $50-$75. My gut tells me that your plate was made in Hungary for the export market sometime after 1950.
As to the siddur, which dates to the 1930s or 40s, if it were in perfect condition, because of the decorative cover the value would be $25-$50. Unfortunately, because of the condition it is in, there is no monetary value, and I suggest that you put it in a genizah.
I have this Theodore Herzl pocketknife from my mother-in-law. She bought it in the early 70s in a flea market in Amsterdam for $1 at the time. I have seen another similar one online, but it doesn’t look quite like this. I would love to hear more about this knife.
East Brunswick, NJ
Before the advent of the Internet, your pocketknife, made in the 1920s or 30s, was a much sought after collectible of Herzl and Zionist memorabilia enthusiasts, and would trade for a few hundred dollars. Over the last two decades, however, other examples of your pocketknife have appeared with such regular frequency in Internet auctions that just about any collector who wants one, owns it. Today it would sell for $75-$100.