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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 13, 2002

Owner seeking information about Delft tiles

By Leslie Hindman

Q.I own eight tiles that I'm told are Delft tiles made in the 17th century. I would appreciate it if you can authenticate and appraise the tiles.

— Daphne Bradlow, Chicago

A. I can't authenticate anything I can't actually inspect. However, your tiles certainly look Delft and 17th century.

The name Delft comes from the town in Holland most famous for producing this kind of tin-glazed earthenware. Delftware or English Delft also is the name used for similar wares made in England until roughly 1800.The rise of Delft, or, to avoid confusion, Dutch Delft, can be traced to an interruption in the Dutch China trade and the decline of the Dutch brewing industry.

Italian potters first brought their method for making tin-glazed earthenware to Holland in the early 1500s, but local manufacturing never really took off until the next century, when porcelain imports from China were reduced by a civil war and a number of idled breweries were converted into potteries.

By the middle of the 17th century, there were about 30 "Delft" potteries in Holland, with many located in and around the town of Delft.

Much Delft was made in imitation of Chinese blue and white porcelain, but somewhat later European motifs, such as landscapes and figures, were introduced. Polychrome (multicolor) wares also were made in great abundance.

Delft potters produced tableware and tiles, plaques, vases, figures and novelty items. All are collected, but in terms of prices, tiles tend to be rather affordable. They were used extensively in the damp climate of the Netherlands and also were manufactured for export. Many survive.

Collectors demand and are willing to pay for perfection in Delft plates or vases, but the standard for tiles is more forgiving. Bumps, chips and imperfections are to be expected. Most Delft tiles from the 17th century sell in the $75 to $150 range, with unusual subjects and more elaborate designs going for more. Your tiles appear to be in good condition and, if they are authentic, I value them at about $100 to $125 each.

Q. I'd like help to date and value a cigar display case. It has a lever in the back, and when pushed or pulled, it operates the curved glass front. I have had it for 20 years and have never seen another.

—Lewis Hollingsworth, Amarillo, Texas

A. I've never seen one exactly like this, either. It has a great yellow color and an interesting circular shape, and sports some terrific cigar advertisements.

Cases like yours were used in general stores, bars and tobacco shops. The lever in the back allowed the clerk to open the case for the customer. Sometimes cases like this were coin operated, as well, opening from the front after the customer deposited the appropriate coins.

Tobacco and cigar collectors frequently buy cases like this to display their collections, and I believe yours, which dates from 1890 to 1910, would sell for $1,500 to $2,000.

Leslie Hindman is the author of "Adventures at the Auction" and host of two HGTV shows. She welcomes letters but cannot reply individually. Send photos of object (sorry, they can't be returned) with identifying marks visible, a brief history and your daytime phone number to: What's It Worth, The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802.