Saturday, September 29, 2012



This clutter has existed for 4 months!
Picture taking is a mess.
Sorting through my aluminum has been a learning experience. Although it has never been packed away in boxes or barrels and hidden in a basement, it has been undisturbed in deep stacks on the shelves of a storage closet.  Occasionally, I would rattle around there, verifying a mark or number.
            Aluminum is a lightweight metal. We all know that.  In stacks of ten or more trays, it ain’t.  Neither can it be handled quietly.  Nevertheless, it sat there in its stacks, defying me to make any decisions concerning it future. Finally, I accepted the challenge and plunged into eBay selling.
           All this led to more discoveries than I could have made in a year of shopping. My latest discovery in my collection, concerns a Laird piece  I purchased ten or fifteen years ago. It is a four-piece set consisting of a ceramic jam jar, its aluminum lid with the twig and leaf finial used on many of the Laird pieces, a small spoon, and the little under plate. For no special reason, I turned the plate over and did a double take. The mark was not the typical Laird mark. Actually it was not even a Laird mark. It read Turnip Yard. The fit is perfect and the leaf and twig is identical to that on other Laird pieces. So this piece had sat in my cabinet for years. I bought it as a Laird dish and part of it was. I had never before closely examined it. It's now a puzzle and I wonder about the story behind it. Did the Shup Laird maker do this or did some one in subsequent years play matchmaker? And what, if any connection is there to a long 
 ago phone call from a person who knew I was interested in aluminum. This person had just recently moved into a house with a basement with a large amount of aluminum.....all trays, and all plain and bearing the stamp of Turnip Yard. I heard no more than that.  So we are left with several questions: 1. Were these pieces made to be sold to other companies such as Laird?  If so, why mark them.  2. Has anyone seen inserts such as that above
 combined with a Turnip Yard under plate or tray? And, 3. Who made these and what became of them?

         My interest in aluminum is supposed to make me curious and thorough in my knowledge of the pieces I come across. Right? At least, those in my own collection! Not so, I'm afraid. My second discovery came when I was cleaning a tray for sale. I had it listed under my Continental pieces as having the Corduroy pattern. Again, I had goofed. I had simply assumed that if it looked like Continental and its Corduroy pattern, that was what it was. When I turned it over expecting to see that distinctive Corduroy mark, I had to look twice to believe what was actually there...Crestmark, Continental Silver Co. 

         Then there was a tiny nut dish that I'd kept for years because of its nice shape and twisted handle. I assumed it was Designed Aluminum or something similar. One day, a really close examination found its mark: Continental Silver Co. Paisley. Because the roughness of the paisley design, the company stamp was well hidden.

            eBay has kept me well supplied with surprises. First, there was a Palmer-Smith bowl in the style of many Nambi. That was no great surprise, for the work of both are smooth and modern. It
was the new motif or pattern that caught my eye........It sold for $15.
        Another Palmer-Smith shallow bowl is still listed. Its surface is covered with what I would describe as a stylized weeping willow. Its branches are mostly bare with leaves at their tips. It's a neat piece and its seller agrees. It is priced at $175. Buy it now!

       The serving tray, right, with its wheat designed handles and straight lines, sold for $104.

My own selling has been work, but finding these new designs and motifs has been interesting. Several were shown in our previous issue and there's more to come. At least six or seven in four months. And I'd given up on eBay!  The best and weirdest of all. I'm saving for last. The seller couldn't identify the piece and asked for help.
Tray with band of images
 and foliage

Woman's face in band

Look closely..see the hand?

Is there any help in identifying this piece? Could it possibly be the work of Pflantz or Hattrick of Canterbury Arts? I believe there were traces of the maker's mark but it wasn't pictured. I betcha some of us could figure it out. I'll try to locate the piece again.

More in a few weeks,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Selling on eBay

Shelves full of ebay listings.
      I believe I mentioned downsizing my hammered aluminum collection in a previous post. I can now tell you that I had much more fun discovering a new piece on a shop shelf than I have had in photographing, measuring and listing each piece I’ve placed on auction. And since the purpose of it all is to sell, when that happens, the piece must be wrapped, boxed, weighed and postage ordered. Oh yes, there are invoices to be sent.
      Still, excepting a few glitches in the system, this entire process has been fun and certainly educational. For the fun part, I’ve met through the back and forth communications about various pieces, numerous other collectors, and renewed contacts with friends from the years of the mail-out newsletter and aluminum shows.
     The opportunity to discover new designs and motifs has been endless and reinforces what many collectors have long believed–we’ll never be able to say we’ve seen it all.  It keeps cropping up.  Here is another Everlast motif that is new to me. The dish was described as a heavy bowl and whether by accident or purposely, it's starting price was 99¢. There were no bids. I expect this dish was a very early Everlast piece, for some of those had the quality of the WA Forge.  As a collecter and a researcher, I would have been interested in this piece, and the two shown in the last post. 
     Another item that slipped by me is this interesting square tray by a newcomer to add to my list of makers. It sold, and I hope someone interested in the history of hammered aluminum was the person who bought it.

The mark reads "HAND WROUGHT
                         FRANK L. SHAFFER.

       I know I have not been the only person discouraged by eBay's past offerings, but I see that I have missed a number of items that I would have been very interested in bidding on.
       One was a cake plate and cover by Canterbury Arts. Another was a necklace by Wendell August. There were others. It's also terribly depressing to see one of your favorite 'keepers' (a Continental gravy boat with attached under tray) bring no more than $7.99. Or to see a piece like the one I may have paid $80. for in the '90s, sell for less than $30.
      So goes the market. What didn't sell one week, may sell the next. What gets passed by at $9.99 may be purchased from another seller for $14. What one sellers prices at $8.00, another may ask $35.00...and may get it, too!

        Do you keep up with the comments that are made on our posts? There are a few questions and bits of information there that need our involvement.  For tonight, that'll have to wait. I've been promising to post fresh Rodney Kent information. There are numbers to add to the numbering list and a real surprise to receive this photo of #503. Of course, it is not exactly a Rodney Kent piece but it is a continuation of the numbering sequence and was produced by Shane Industries, whose connection with the Rodney Kent line is documented in a Rodney Kent post of quite a while back. Check it out on the list of past post listed on the right side of this blog.

Now the updated Rodney Kent number list:

400    tray, 11 x 14, w/o handles
401    covered dish or candy box, all alum.
402    tray, 14” dia.
403    relish set, generally called dresser set. 2 glass dishes w/alum.
 lids and caddy
404    bread tray, 12”, scalloped lip, handles.
405    silent butler, 7”. Also toast tray.
406    bread tray, 12”, w/o handles, scalloped lip
407    casserole holder, pedestal, handles. Lid fits snugly over bowl.
408    tray, 12 x 16, handles
409    tray/basket, curved up edges, handle
410    compote, covered, 6” dia., finial, holds glass dish, ribbon styled stand, 6” height.
412    lazy Susan,  groups of tulips. Also rec. tray w/handles
413    lazy Susan, 18”
414    tray, 17” dia.
415 bowl , salad, 11” dia, pedestal,, 5” height, handles w/serving
            utensilsw/ribbon design handles
416    crumb tray, 2-piece
417    candy/nut dish,6”,  hex shape
418    candy/nut, 7”, fluted
420    cake basket, 7’ X 11”, bail type handle
421    plate, 11 ½”
422    bowl, 10”, loop handles
423    tray, 14” x 20”, handles
424    tray, 17 ½ handles
426    silent butler, 7 ½ dia.
427    silent butler, 5 ½ “ x, 7 ½”
428    silent butler, 5” x 7”, applied looped ribbon decoration beneath tulip finial
429    basket, 7”, turned up fluted edge, bail handle
432   a wide underplate with tulip and holding a covered glass dish        
434    tray, oval, glass insert w/lid
435    bowl, 11”
436    plate, 5 ½”, raised lip
437    Condiment set or powder bowl; 3 pc. set w/ glass dish , alum. lid w/applied ribbon-styled decoration & tulip finial
439    silent butler
440    buffet server, 8” x 12”indertray holds 1 ½ qt. Pyrex dish, Alum. cover
442    basket.  5” x 7”, ribbon and bow bail handle
443    buffet server, undertray holds 10” dish, end handles extend into feet.
444    crumb tray,  tray w/brush, brush has wooden handle w/alum. ribbon decoration, tray also has ribbon deco on handle.
446    coaster set, coasters in and caddy base in shape of petal tips, top handle
449    candy dish, hex shape,  bail handle. Also 5” x 8” pedestal dish
450    bowl, 10”, side handles.
453    pitcher, bar ice guard embossed w/tiny tulips.
455    undertray
456    Lazy Susan, 18” , 9 ½  height., holds glass dish
457    candy dish,  6 ½” dia., alum. caddy holds glass dish w/alum. lid. Applied ribbon deco and tulip finial.
458    Lazy Susan w/ five wedge-shaped  glass inserts,
459    caddy ring for glass candy dish w/alum lid w/applied ribbon decoration and tulip finial. Handles
460    plate or sm. tray, 11 ½” dia
461    butter dish & under tray, glass dish w/alum. lid with tulip finial.. Tray has no motif and tab handles.
            Also covered casserole holder, 8”, tulip in reposse’ on lid, band handles w/intaglio leaf design at each end. Slotted lid w/tulip finial
462    relish server, center handle separates two triangular sections w/glass dishes
463    square under tray, holding pale blue  sq. dish with lid.
465    relish or jam jar on 5 ½” x 10” tray
466    bowl or basket, pedestal, bail type handle
467    bowl, footed, 10”, handles
468    candy, covered, ribbon design stem/pedestal plain round base.
469    tidbit, 2-tierm bottom sec, 11 ½”, top ,8”.  Height 5 ½”
470    butter dish ,sane as #461
471    Lazy Susan, 16”, flower and ribbon deco. Also 18”
472    Condimnt set w/two covered jam jars, and 2 triangular glass dishes.  “U” shaped center handle in ribbon and flower design
474    condiment set, handled triangular undertray holds covered butterin center & two covered glass dishes
475    Chafing dish/warmer, holds baking dish w/alum cover w/applied ribbon deco and tulip finial. Ribbon & flower bands form handles and supporting legs.
478    tray, 16” dia.
479    sugar and creamer on tray, each piece has narrow, plainer version of ribbon and flower handles.
480   ice bucket

There are still gaps in the list but we're working on it. Chaos such as shown below is reminding me of forgotten items in my collection, many needing photographing for future information, some needing to be set aside for gifts to my family....and then there is those to list on eBay.

For photographing
Behind closed doors

Set aside to think about

It took years––over 45––to make such a mess as this. Been fun, though!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Buying and Selling

Cellini Craft pitcher
There's no cure for the collecting fever. Even in the midst of downloading my own collection, I've been unable to resist the lure of adding a few items. First, a pitcher appeared - one I had long admired. Then an ice tub went up for sale. Made by Continental, it matches my favorite salad bowl and a punch set that I love. It adapts very well to other uses -I ignored  its original use and filled it with cantaloupe slices for dinner last night. I expect melon chunks would be even better.

Finally, I was smitten by a modern - day vase by Wendell August.  Of course I can rationalize my purchases by telling myself that getting rid of over 8o pieces and buying only three, is making a tremendous inroad on reducing the size of my collection, so I deserve a little pleasure. Right?

Since the first of June I've been totally involved with aluminum - sorting through my stacks, deciding what to sell, photographing it for a permanent record and for selling on eBay and then coping with the intricacies  of listing on eBay's auction. And I've learned a lot.

First, it ain't easy! Photographing different views. Polishing and removing old stuck-on price tags. Filling in the required forms without mistakes. Including measurements and answering bidders questions. And it definitely is not profitable for those of us who accumulated  our collections during the high-priced days of the '90s. If you must download just grit your teeth and do it.

On the plus side is a few bare shelves, meeting other collectors, and watching the strange things that happen in the pricing field, and seeing motifs and designs that are new to me. There is no end the the unusual things that appear on eBay.

A few tips for those who are starting their collections: Keep an accurate inventory with maker, size and cost. Remove tags -after a few years in storage, some types are very difficult to remove. Clear thoroughly to prevent damage that might occur.

For those of us who didn't do those things, there are various helps such are solvents that remove tags, soaking in hot water or simply wetting and using a dash of detergent. SOS pads are permissible if you plan to follow with fine steel wool (#0000) and an aluminum polish. Dirty items are not good sellers!

Now to touch upon the ever-present question of prices. As the old saying goes, "they are worth whatever someone is willing to pay."  Besides that, it is a matter of luck that an interested buyer happens to spot your item while it is up for sale.  What I've have often seen is an item finishing the auction with no bids while another identical one priced much higher sells. Or upon being relished, it is snatched up quickly  on a "buy it now" option. I have had things i purchased for research purposes and never really liked, sell. And I have some pieces I've always liked but need to move on, not get a single bid and very ew lookers.

It has been no surprise that Rodney Kent items have sold quiet well, but it has been a great surprise that the beloved Continental chrysanthemum patterned items are not selling. Have Continental collectors already bought one of everything?

Surprisingly, casserole holders, both with and without their baking dishes, seem to be selling well. Bread trays aren't. Ash trays aren't, although they may someday be a thing of the past. Many smokers obligingly step outside to light up. One collector uses them for individual tidbit servers. Neat idea.

I've gleaned a few things off eBay that some of you might want to investigate. This Continental piece puzzles me. It carries the mark we're accustomed to seeing but the piece appears to be tarnished silver. Note the leaf in the handle design but the curving 'wire' decoration is different. It is presently for sale on the eBay site. Then there are two Everlast trays for sale with these motifs. They're new to me and I'm hunting another that I've misplaced.  Both these trays are presently for sale at auction
style, I believe. The one on the right appears to be an older motif and similar to another wildflower motif.    

Tonight when I scrolled down the long list of sale items, I noticed a large amount of the pieces were listed at a set price as "buy it now" and it appears that prices are rising. A Continental tray with irises was priced at $69 which may not be terribly unreasonable since it is not exactly a common motif. A Wendell August vase with the Mirada pottery and iris holder is well over $200 - okay, how many pieces of glass and pottery survive these past 60-70 years? One must think of those issues before going berserk over the cost.
This appears to be an old motif and similar to another wildflower one.

I have also checked the prices on hammered aluminum items featured at several shops. Some are priced far beyond their worth according to the selling prices on eBay - and some are real bargains. Some are accurately portrayed and some are cited as belonging to an era before hammered aluminum was being made.

It's a wild market place and let the buyer beware.

We need to catch up on our Rodney Kent numbers - a collector has sent photos of her collection and other collectors have sent questions and remarks about their recent purchases. I saved all of these in a folder but this new computer does not behave the way my other one did. Most of what was supposedly saved is unreadable and I am very unhappy. This had gone unnoticed until tonight so perhaps after a week or so of research I can solve the problem. I really need something to occupy my days, anyway,  Yeah!

One last word on making comments and following this blog: I am occasionally contacted by collectors who must downsize. They are seeking nearby collectors who might be interested in purchasing all or part of their collection. The sad part is, I no longer know who lives where, and can offer no help. One helpful solution might be to list your name and state as a potential buyer - or mention something you're hunting. I'm sure we all value our privacy but as a group of folks who are interested in aluminum, we can surely devise a way to way to handle this.  Suggestions, anyone?

More to follow soon.