Question: My attached photo shows a china plate, 14-inches in diameter and marked with a green stamp that has "J.P." over a line with "L" and "France" beneath. It was purchased at a church sale a few years ago and appears to be hand painted. I would like to know where and when it was made as well as if it has worth. - H.C., Wildwood

Answer: Founded by Jean Pouyat in 1883 at Limoges, France, La-Ceramique porcelain factory used the underglazed Pouyat #5 mark found on your handled cake plate from 1891 to 1932.

For many years, La Ceramique produced hand-decorated porcelain ware as well as plain "white ware" blanks that were exported to the United States. There, professional decorators, cottage-industry artists and talented hobbyists painted naturalistic themes including fruit, flowers, seashells, fish, game fowl and animals on ornamental items, dinnerware, kitchen and boudoir pieces, buttons and jewelry.

The molded scroll border, overglazed fruit and burnished gold trim on your plate are indicative of favorite motifs, colors and embellishment found on Art Nouveau porcelains decorated by china painters who frequently signed their art.

Many unsigned plates such as yours presently sell for $12 to $20, based on subject and quality of the art as well as condition.

Question: This walnut bookcase with four movable shelves has been owned by my family for more than a century. It is 57 inches high, 58 inches wide and 18 inches deep. We believe the decoration around its top is hand carved and hope you can tell us if it is a valuable antique. - M.C., Hammonton

Answer: Your photo of a bookcase, categorized as a Victorian Rennaisance or Rocco Revival style piece, shows a fine example of American furniture popular during the second half of the 19th century. Its decoration, known as rinceau - a French word pronounced rin-SO that means foliage - features continuous undulating scrolls that branch out irregularly to form stems, acanthus leaves and flowers.

Frequently used to enhance early Roman buildings, applied stone and plaster rinceau friezes were adapted centuries later as borders for impressive wooden fireplace mantels and massive Victorian era furniture.

Personal examination by a an antique furniture specialist will determine whether the laminated embellishment on your bookcase was carved by hand or manufactured by machine.

Your bookcase is a handsome antique that appeals to decorators and folks who admire and appreciate fine furniture made during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A similar example fetched $800 at auction last year and several smaller pieces have sold for $500 to $700.

Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist whose consulting firm, Treasures Unlimited, is based in southern New Jersey. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email:

Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.