This Old Thing: ‘Fabulous, Possibly Unique’ Unusual Copper Mirror
Q We purchased this hammered copper oval mirror in 1999 for $200 from an antique dealer in Merrickville, Ontario. It sits above the fireplace mantel in our living room in our 1919 home. The style is similar to English Arts and Crafts mirrors but with decorative medallions that reflect Austrian Secession motifs. The frame is 85 centimeters wide (33.5 inches). There are no maker’s marks and I’ve never seen another like it. We would be very interested to know its origins and its estimated value.
A. The Arts and Crafts movement was dedicated to crafting new designs, primarily from 1890 to 1920. While I agree with your thoughts, I would broaden your search for names of designers and companies associated with the movement and this style of metalwork to aid in attribution. In Europe, Josef Hofmann (initiator of the Viennese Secession) and the WMF company; in the British Isles, the legendary designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Liberty & Co. (which employed famous artists such as Archibald Knox); in the United States, the figurehead Gustav Stickley and, in New York State, the Roycrofters company. I interpret the patterns as stylized Barn Owl faces, the top one simulating a moth with “eyes”. Your fabulous mirror is contemporary to your home and perhaps unique. It is worth at least $750. A strong maker attribution will quickly double its value.
Q This PC Sheppard watercolor was given to us over 35 years ago by a much older friend. I believe he represents a Quebec village. It is called ‘N. Village’ in pencil. I kept it in a drawer, unframed, and it measures 15 by 20 cm (six by eight inches). I love this painting and I hope to know more.
A. This beautiful piece calls for professional framing to be enjoyed every day. Peter Clapham Sheppard (1882-1965) was an outstandingly trained Canadian artist and his works are highly sought after. He painted in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and worked with oil, pencil and watercolour. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and of the Ontario Society of Artists. Quebec winter scenes with activities involving sleighs, horses, people and shadowy light effects are always popular. He did an oil painting in 1939 titled “Northern Village”, which your piece might relate to. The gas pump at the front of the garage adds interest with the yearning for today’s oil and gas items. Your little Sheppard gem is worth $750.
Q I bought this Pepsi machine 25 years ago for $500 at an antique store in Ottawa. It is marked “Vendorlator, Model HB”. I declined an offer of several thousand US dollars over 20 years ago. He needs a little cosmetic surgery, but other than that, he’s in good working order. I hope to know what it’s worth today.
A. The guy who invented Pepsi in the 1890s was a young North Carolina pharmacist named Caleb Bradham. He eventually named it “Pepsi Cola” and claimed his potion was tasty and countered dyspepsia (essentially indigestion). Your coin-operated machine was manufactured in the mid-1950s by the Vendorlator Manufacturing Company of Fresno, California. are hot products today. Your tasty machine is worth around $6,500.