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What's Selling on eBay: August 2015

by Deborah Abernethy and Mike McLeod
$3,000 (60 bids, 16 bidders): 1781 Antique 18th C. William Simkin Creamware Liverpool Pitcher, Farmers Tools.
Measuring 9 inches tall by 8 inches from the handle to the spout, this antique 18th century Liverpool Creamware Jug is decorated with early farmer’s tools. On the other side is a poem and name I cannot find anywhere on the internet. It reads:
First goes the plough
Then goes the harrow
And he that does not love good mirth
I wish he may have sorrow
William Simkin 1781.
This early pitcher has a couple of chips to the spout and a very fine one-inch hairline to the top edge. You can also see some toning on the creamware. There are no other problems or any restorations to this rare 18th century creamware pitcher.
(Photo: eBay seller wwolst12.)

DBA: “Liverpool pitcher” is a generic term given to pitchers made in Liverpool, England by many different potteries. Most are not marked by the manufacturer.  They were mass-produced and usually made to commemorate something (like the launching of a ship or the opening of some monument). Many were made for the American market.
Liverpool pitchers can be found selling for very different amounts of money. I found a polychrome pitcher depicting a naval battle scene in Connecticut that sold at auction for $7,800. Liverpool pitchers were never made of top-quality materials, and the price originally was quite small. These were not preserved in “the china cabinet,” and few have survived. Condition is a factor in today’s price along with content. This one is a fine example in many categories, and this was a fair price.
$3,600: (13 bids, 6 bidders): 1905 Automatic Electric Co. Strowger Candlestick 11-digit Telephone.
Besides the obvious of it missing the number card, one small screw, receiver and earpiece, I believe it to be mechanically complete. These kinds of phones are not my specialty, so I will say this is an as-is sale. The finish on this piece is fantastic; I do not think it has been re-done. It has minor surface scratches but shines beautifully. The recoil on the dial works great, as the dial moves with ease; also, the earpiece hang-up mechanism seems to be working properly. I have removed the bottom plate and the internal cover; the inner workings are in superb condition and seem complete. The cord is damaged, and the bottom felt is worn out. I believe this to be 1905, but I very well could be wrong. (Photo: eBay seller prairie_boys_antiques.)
DBA: This telephone was the first automatic dial telephone system. It was invented by Almon Strowger in 1889. The system used rotary relay switches that followed pulses in the central office when a subscriber moved a dial on the telephone. By 1892, the first Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange was in service in La Porte, Ind. It had fewer than 100 subscribers, but the concept worked.  This telephone is on every “top ten telephone list” and typically would sell for between $2,000 and $4,000, although it is rare to find one. I did find an advertisement for one offered for sale at $8,000, but that one has not been sold.
$520 (20 bids, 17 bidders): Antique Civil War, General U.S. Grant, Tintype Photograph Political Pin.
After searching the net, looking at other ferrotype photographs of General Grant, I found many that were similar, except for a couple of different features. All of the miniature tintypes we found show the general looking off to the left, and they were not marked “Gen. U.S. Grant” along the top edge. In the original tintype photograph in this auction, General Grant is looking right at you. I was able to find an old engraving of this photograph on line, but I could not find another tintype example. Measuring three-quarters of an inch in diameter, including the brass frame, this Grant tintype has a revolving pin on the back. You can see that this rare political pin is in original condition.
(Photo, eBay seller wwolst12.)
DBA: There are many collectors for political pins, and this one is rare. I think the buyer got a deal as most other political pins are selling for much more. I donít believe that an Abraham Lincoln, which would be a minimum of $1,400, is a comparable object. But even a Benjamin Harrison (1888) would be about $1,000, retail price.
$1,486 (11 bids, 9 bidders): Very Rare, Antique, E.R. Knott Candy-Cutting Machine – Similar to Thomas Mills.
Up for auction is this very rare E.R. Knott candy-cutting machine. This particular machine would be used for cutting different flavored hard candies. A finished piece looking like a small pillow. Measures 11 x 11 x 12 inches (height with handle in upright position). It is a very heavy machine as it mostly consists of cast iron and some brass, weighing in at almost 28 lbs. before being packaged for shipping. Blades are all in good condition. This machine was discovered in the attic of a candy company that closed about five years ago. It was found filthy, rusted and unusable, and for that reason, I have carefully cleaned and restored the piece to its original form. All the parts are there, and the piece is fully functional for display or for use. There is a stamp on top that says, “Patent applied for” which makes this an earlier model, given that the patent was eventually issued February 15, 1910.
This is a beautiful piece of confectionery history. Made in Boston, Massachusetts. I have been collecting and restoring antique candy equipment for more than 20 years, and this particular machine is rarely seen. This is only the third one of these machines I have ever seen, which includes the one I have in my personal collection.
(Photo: eBay seller sierraz71.)
DBA: Although this is a rare object and few can be found, I did find where a similar one that recently sold for $1,400 from a retail Internet store. I also found two similar candy-cutting machines, one an earlier device and one a T Mills machine, selling at Hyde Park Country Auctions in 2011 for $225 and $200.  These are so rare that it is hard to say if the buyer or seller got the best deal as there is so little sales data.
Deborah Abernethy is a certified appraiser with the International Association of Appraisers. She can be contacted at 404-262-2131 or Her website is

What’s Selling on eBay: August 2015

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