At the turn of the century, many French companies were making cameo glass, which is made from layers of colored glass. The artist etched away parts of the top layers to form a color picture with the remaining glass.
Prices of antiques are determined by their rarity, quality and availability. The signature of the company or artist is a plus that almost always adds to the price.
Cameo-glass pieces made by Galle, Legras, Daum, D'Argental, DeVez, Degue and others appear similar to the novice. Fortunately, most of the pieces are signed by the maker.
Look on the sides of a cameo-glass vase for a signature that seems to be part of the design. Often the names are written vertically in oddly shaped letters.
Unfortunately, since the 1970s there have been copies of cameo glass that are signed with similar names. Instead of the name "Galle," for example, some new glass is marked "Galli." When an auctioneer reads the name to a crowd, it sounds as though the vase were made by the famous artist, not a new company.
There are ways to sandblast a mark on an old piece so the mark is raised and appears to be original.
If you have a family heirloom cameo vase with a signature, it is valuable.
Question My bronze vase is overlaid with a sterling silver floral decoration. The Art Nouveau designs make me think it was made by Alphonse Mucha. It has a diamond-shaped mark on the bottom that surrounds the letters "AHSM." There is a patent date: Aug. 27, 1913.
Answer Mucha did not design your vase; the mark on your vase is actually "HAMS." It was made by the Heintz Art Metal Shop of Buffalo, N.Y.
The company was in business from 1906 to 1929. Its silver-on-bronze vases and other wares were made in arts and crafts, Art Deco and art nouveau styles. They are all prized by collectors.
Your vase is worth about $200.
Q I have eight framed prints of dogs playing poker. Each one measures 12 by 16 inches. The artist's signature is "C.M. Coolidge." The prints were made by Brown & Bigelow of St. Paul, Minn.
A Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1844-1937) grew up on a large farm near Antwerp, N.Y. Coolidge moved to Manhattan in the 1870s and started painting pictures of dogs doing human activities.
He signed a contract with Brown & Bigelow, a printer and advertising agency that printed thousands of posters, calendars and prints.
The paintings have become known as "the poker dogs." The company gave the prints away as gifts for clients in the 1930s and '40s.
Some versions of the dog pictures are still being made.
Q My green glass figural bottle is in the shape of a robed, bearded man holding a stick. It has a metal screw cap and stands 10 1/2 inches tall. The label on the front of the bottle says "Poland Spring Gin, Lawrence & Co., Lewiston, Maine."
A Many variations of your bottle have been made since it was first produced in 1885 for water from the springs at Poland, Maine.
The bottles, first made near Hartford, Conn., depict the biblical figure of Moses and are known to collectors as "Moses Striking the Rock" bottles.
The Moses bottle was used by several firms, including Hiram Ricker Co. and Lawrence & Co. It was made in clear, green or amber.
Some bottles made before 1914 have turned slightly amethyst from the sun.
Your bottle would sell for about $35.
Q I have a figurine of a little girl dressed in an old-fashioned dress with a very full skirt. The top of the skirt has six openings about the size of a penny. The bottom of the figurine is marked "Josef Originals." What was its use?
A You have a lipstick holder. It is a figurine made to hold tubes of lipstick on a dresser.
Josef Originals were made in California from 1945 to 1962. After that they were made in Japan until 1985. Later they were made in Taiwan, Korea and Mexico.
Q Among my possessions from childhood is a hard plastic, hollow, unmarked black cat. We used to fill it with lollipops for Halloween. It is 3 1/2 inches tall and in very good condition. It can't be more than 45 years old. Is it worth more than a couple of dollars?
A Your cat dates from the 1950s. It was made of injection-molded polystyrene, a shiny, lightweight, durable plastic introduced in 1937.
Your cat is probably one of many molded plastic Halloween toys and novelties made by Rosbro Plastics of Providence, R.I. Rosbro bought molds from Tico Toys of Pawtucket, R.I.
A black cat candy dish such as yours sells for about $45. Larger, rarer plastic toys from the same era sell for more.
For a copy of the Kovels' 1998 leaflet listing 153 books and pamphlets that are price guides for all kinds of collectibles and antiques, send $2 and a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) No. 10 envelope to Price Guides for Antiques and Collectibles, Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary by location because of local economic conditions.
* Squeeze Your Bippy game, "Laugh-In," 1968, Hasbro: $60.
* Silk brocade jacket, swirling plume pattern, hot pink lining, Scaasi, small, 1960s: $180.
* Carnival glass fruit bowl, Inverted Fan and Feather, marigold, Grape Arbor interior, footed, 9 3/4 by 5 1/2 inches: $175.
* Vogue Tiny Miss Ginny, hard plastic head, blue sleep eyes, blond curled wig, five-piece body, yellow organdy dress, 1952, 8 inches: $225.
* Franciscan Desert Rose water pitcher and four tumblers: $310.
* Quimper snuff bottle, shoe shape, red, blue and yellow blossoms, four red dots, 4 1/4 inches: $440.
* Howdy Doody doll, plush body, rolling eyes, neckerchief, Ideal, 1950s, 20 inches: $665.
* Sampler, Ten Commandments verse, flowers, animals, "John Field & Dianna married June 1799," framed, 19 by 22 inches: $775.
* San Francisco World's Fair pinball machine, 10 balls for 1 cent, aerial view of San Francisco, 1933, Rock-Ola, 38 by 42 inches: $1,200.
* Swan chair, Arne Jacobsen, upholstered, black leather, 1957, manufactured by Fritz Hansen, Denmark: $4,255.