Question: What can you tell me about my grandmother's two tea sets which total 35 pieces in excellent condition. Attached are photos showing some of the pieces and marks which appear on them. I was told their transfer-printed art is by Angelica Kauffmann. - L.O., Philadelphia
Answer: Swiss-born Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) was an important female master painter who created oil, watercolor and chalk art in the neo-classical style. Later a resident of Italy and England, she was famed for her portraits as well as historical and mythological scenes. Long after Kauffmann's death, European porcelain makers employed artists to reproduce her scenes which were used to decorate their wares by hand or transfer. Such motifs, described as "Kauffmann-style" or "after Kauff-mann" often bear her forged signature.
The black "Made in Czechoslovakia" stamp shown on your china indicates the pieces were made during or after 1918 when that country was founded following World War I. Also shown is a "Beehive" mark, an upside-down version of the shield mark used by Imperial and Royal Porcelain Factory Vienna until it closed in 1864. Imprinted by a number of Czech and other European factories, the symbol is found on thousands of porcelain items made from the late 1800s through the 20th century, long after Royal Vienna ceased production.
Your cream and burgundy china with opalescent glaze and gilt decoration typifies Czech porcelain tea sets made during the 1920s and 1930s. A similar 39-piece combined set has sold for $250 while cabinet plates are fetching $450 a dozen and a 12-item chocolate set in fair condition brings $50.
Question: I own an unusual handmade bed covering, 70 inches wide and 80 inches long. It was sewn by my mother's great-grandmother, a dressmaker who owned a shop from 1887 to 1905. Made from leftover silk and velvet dressmaking scraps randomly pieced together after she retired, our family calls it Nana's "crazy quilt." I believe such quilts are collected and would like information about them. - S.J., Longport
Answer: Although generally associated with the Victorian period, crazy quilts made by haphazardly sewing together odd cloth scraps can be traced to Colonial days when usable patches of wool, linen and cotton taken from worn clothing and bedding were recycled to make patchwork covers which had no quilting or batting.
During the 1800s, upper-class women raised the status of such recycling projects to skilled needlework by randomly joining odd-shape scraps of silk, satin, brocade and velvet with elaborate stitching and embellishing the coverlets with intricate embroidery
, beads, lace and ribbon. At the peak of their popularity, crazy quilts created by salvaging scraps from a family's milestone garments such as wedding and christening gowns or military uniforms became treasured heirlooms used to cover grand pianos and tables or hang on walls.
Considered unfashionable after World War I, many heirloom crazy quilts were packed away and forgotten until reclaimed during the 1980s and 1990s when interest in all things Victorian exploded. Although fascination with the era eventually declined, crazy quilts - now often categorized as folk art - continue to attract collectors. Present asking prices for the quilts are as high as $4,000, but most are selling for $300 to $1,000, based on condition, age, size, materials and craftsmanship.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, N.J. 08232.