'Godey Girl' Prints: What's The Value?

Posted: March 29, 1992

Question: I have eight "Godey Girl" prints, each measuring 10 by 12 inches. How old are they and are they valuable?

Answer: Godey's Lady's Book, founded by Louis Godey and published monthly

from 1830 to 1898, was one of the most widely read American literary and fashion magazines of its day.

Over the years, many people removed and saved Godey's engraved and hand- colored fashion illustrations; they remain popular decorations.

Individual prints retail for $10 to $18 depending on condition, according to Donald Cresswell of the Philadelphia Print Shop (8441 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118).

Those torn, stained from being mounted on acidic mats, and faded from overexposure to sunlight, like yours, are hard to sell at any price, he said.

Godey's came in plain paper wrappers and readers often bound six or 12 issues in leather covers.

Individual volumes appear at flea markets, but collectors generally prefer sets of several years of the magazine, said Jack Freas of Tamerlane Books (Box C, Havertown, Pa. 19083). A collection of all 68 years of Godey's in good condition and without any missing magazines or plates could fetch close to $10,000, he said.

Q: I have a lovely 9 1/2-by-8-inch picture frame made of openwork metal and shaded green glass. It is beaded around the edge and marked "Tiffany Studios, N.Y., 947." What is it worth?

A: Your etched metal and "Favrile Glass" Tiffany Studios frame in the popular Pine Needle pattern dates from circa 1910-1930 and is worth about $250 in perfect condition, said Alastair Duncan, co-author of Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany (Abrams, 1989). Tiffany Studios made more than 30 pieces in this pattern, giving some as gifts to its clients, according to Duncan.

Customers typically bought a 10-piece desk set to start, adding to it for anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas, he said.

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), son of the founder of the still-famous Tiffany's store, established Tiffany Studios, America's foremost exponent of the art-nouveau style. Although trained as a painter, L.C. Tiffany is best known for creating iridescent Favrile Glass.

Many of his metal and glass lamps, lampshades, vases and small tabletop objects feature motifs from nature in free-flowing, undulating forms.

Be aware that not all glass or lamps called "Tiffany" are handmade originals; the name has been adopted by many modern commercial imitators.

Q: We've had a round, gold-edged ceramic plaque in our family since 1914. It is 17 inches in diameter and the back is marked "Mettlach Germany." The etched design is of Heidelberg Castle. Is it valuable?

A: Your stoneware plaque, mold number 2362, was made by the Villeroy & Boch factory circa 1900 and is worth $700 to $800, according to auctioneer and dealer Gary Kirsner, who wrote The Mettlach Book ($37 postpaid from Glentiques Ltd. Inc., Box 8807, Coral Springs, Fla. 33075).

Called Mettlach wares, after the German town on the Saar River near France and Luxembourg where they were made, the plaques, steins, beakers, tureens and vases produced by V&B during its golden age between 1880 and 1910 display unrivaled design and workmanship.

Nobody knows the secret of Villeroy's famous etched decoration technique, which was used on your plaque. A 1921 factory fire destroyed most of the firm's records, molds and formulas and largely ended Mettlach production. One of Kirsner's theories is that the designs may have been fused to the piece by a laborious process similar to making cloisonne enamel.

V&B recently reproduced some early patterns, but the feel and decoration are so noticeably different from the originals that there's little chance of confusion, Kirsner said.

Lita Solis-Cohen can answer questions only in her column. If you wish to write to her, please include a description, measurement, clear photo, and all markings of your collectible or antique. For those who wish their photos returned, a self-addressed, stamped envelope should be enclosed. Write to Lita Solis-Cohen, The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101.

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