Question: Many years ago, a woman who sang in our church’s choir with my late grandmother gave Gram a pretty ceramic vase when she moved to Nebraska. Ornate, slightly raised flowers with long stems and some leaves trail down the front of the vase. Its base is marked with an impressed small “n” inside a large “C,” “JM” and “HO 2.” Can you tell me something about this vase’s age, maker and if it has value? — A.P., North Wildwood
Answer: The “Cn” on your vase indicates its decoration was carved and painted by one of the women who were art students at Newcomb College in New Orleans. Founded in 1895, the college’s Arts and Crafts Pottery was a business created to work in collaboration with its arts school.
The arrangement let the college’s art students, designated as craftsmen, to design, carve, paint and sell their Newcomb Pottery items, enabling them to support themselves. By 1939, when the pottery closed, more than 70,000 pottery pieces had been created and sold.
Male potters produced the raw pottery with blank surfaces incised and painted by the students. Your vase’s “JM” cipher is the mark of Joseph Meyer, one of Newcomb’s most notable potters, an award-winner who retired in 1927. “HO 2” is a registration number indicating your vase was made in 1915.
Collected internationally and displayed in a number of museums, Newcomb pottery is admired for its low-relief carved decoration and matte glazes. Last year, a vase like yours in excellent condition fetched $850.
Question: I have what may be an important framed, autographed, full-length colored picture of an early movie star. It is 32 inches long, 10½ inches wide and shows a pretty, young girl with blonde ringlet curls wearing a light blue, ankle-length dress with a wide pink sash. “Sincerely Mary Pickford” is written on the picture. Is it possible for you to provide information about this art? — E.W., Longport
Answer: Your picture, known as a yard-long print, is a 1923 lithograph poster advertising Pompeian Massage Creme made by the Pompeian Co. of Cleveland. Founded in the early 1900s by druggist Fred W. Stecher, the firm made aftershave cream for barbershops and added women’s facial cream and cosmetics.
Colorful Pompeian advertisements promising youthful complexions appeared on pages of magazines and initially on 36-inch-long posters — later 32 inches — featuring full-length lithographed pictures of film stars, including Mary Pickford (1892-1979).
Born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Pickford was billed as “America’s Sweetheart” and “Queen of the Movies” from 1910 through the early 1930s. She starred in 52 films, was married to Douglas Fairbanks Sr. for 16 years and became a producer and movie studio owner.
Your 1923 yard-long was created by American illustrator Gene Pressler. Mary Pickford’s name on your print is a facsimile of her signature.
During the past two years, art like yours advertised as “yard-long” prints have sold for $85 to $135 when in excellent condition, without any rips or tears.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Living section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.