Q: My elderly sister gave me a hand-painted porcelain vase of hers before she passed on. It is about 11 inches tall and is decorated with pink roses and green leaves. At the top of the vase are flowers in relief. The handles and the lid are decorated in gold. Marked in green on the bottom are the words "Hand Painted — Nippon" and a wreath with the letter "M" inside. I took it to an antiques dealer about 10 years ago. He told me the vase is in remarkable condition and the gold is 24 karat gold and not worn in any way. He also said it was worth about $350. It has been sitting in my hutch for about 20 years, and I don't know how long my sister had it.
My vase is very special to me. Could you give me a little more information about its history?
A: "Nippon" is the Japanese word for Japan. The letter "M" represents the Morimura Brothers who had offices in New York City and exported porcelain from Japan to the United States. Because your vase has a lid, it is usually referred to as an urn. The mark you described was used from 1911 to 1921. Values for antiques have fallen drastically in the past 10 years. In today's market, your urn would probably be worth $125 to $225.
Q: This mark is on the bottom of a cut-glass oval dish. It has handles, measures around 6 inches long and is in excellent condition.
What can you tell me about my dish?
A: Your dish may appear to be cut glass, but it is a high-quality pressed glass. "Nucut" was made by Imperial Glass Company in Bellaire, Ohio. It introduced the "Nucut" line in 1914. In the early 1900s, cut glass was in demand but very expensive. Imperial's Nucut was designed to look like cut glass and marketed to those who couldn't afford cut glass. Compared with pressed glass, cut glass has sharper edges; patterns are more distinctive; and pieces are heavier and do not have mold marks. It also contains lead and pings when tapped. Tap a piece of pressed glass and you will hear a thunk. Hold a piece of pressed glass and a cut-glass piece to the light and you can see the difference. Cut glass is clear and brilliant, and it sparkles.
Your Nutcut dish is circa 1914 and would probably be worth $15 to $25.
Address your questions to Anne McCollam, P. O. Box 247, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Items of a general interest will be answered in this column. Due to the volume of inquiries, she cannot answer individual letters. To find out more about Anne McCollam and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit theCreators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.