Magdel Coetzee of Strand writes
As a small boy, my grandfather (born in 1919) loved attending auctions with his father. He bought these vases (below) when he was nine years old; can you tell me what they’re worth?
Shona Robie of Stephan Welz and Co replies These are a near pair (based on the image, there’s a slight difference in their size and neck) of French opaline glass mantle vases made during the Victorian era (late 19″ century). Opaline glass is a decorative style of glass that was made in France from 1800 to the 1890s, though it reached its peak of popularity during the reign of Napoleon III in the 1850s and 1860s. The glass is opaque or slightly translucent and can appear either white or brightly coloured. The majority of these are hand-painted with floral sprays or landscapes and they’re unmarked.
CIRCA late 19″ century
VALUE R600—R800 at auction
Long in the tooth
Val Marsh of Great Brak River writes
This gold-engraved toothpick belonged to my father; we found it among his trinkets after his death in 1972. Initially, I was unsure of its purpose — it took a bit of lateral thinking. This one seems to be particularly decorative; the engraving is somewhat worn but it looks like the manufacturer’s name is S Mordan & Co. Is it valuable?
Karen Shean of Stephan Welz and Co replies Since the Middle Ages, and possibly before, gold toothpicks have been viewed as a perfect gift for the person who has everything; in fact, these accessories were favoured by both nobility and high ranking officials such as ship’s captains, priests and sheriffs. Ancient toothpicks were often in the shape of a sword and might include an earwax spoon. The value of gold toothpicks can vary dramatically according to the amount of gold they contain and the current price of gold. And antique pieces can change hands for thousands of rands, regardless of size or the price of gold. Due to the fact that I don’t know what carat the gold is (no hallmarks), it’s difficult to give a value.
VALUE R700—R1 000 (could be more!)