Question: My photo shows two ceramic figures, each 10 inches high. They are marked with "Made in Italy" and a dark blue, star-like symbol over a wavy vertical line. I have been unable to identify the pieces and hope you can help. - J.G., Margate
Answer: The figures are ceramic representations of 18th-century revelers who participated in the mirth and madness of Carnevale Venezia. Originated in 1162 as a celebration of military victory, the famous Venetian festival eventually became an annual event held Dec. 26 to Shrove Tuesday in San Marco Square.
By the mid-18th century, the party had become a flamboyant street fair marked by rowdy, jostling crowds engaged in music, masked balls, street performances, mystery, and promiscuity. Dressed in colorful costumes, their identities and social status hidden beneath simple or elaborate masks, revelers ranging from noblemen and priests to courtesans and pirates enjoyed the excesses and anonymity of Carnevale.
Your figures wear 18th-century "bauta" attire featuring a sweeping, hooded mantle that reaches from the head to the waist. Worn with a black Venetian tricorno hat and a leather half-face mask often decorated with character art, the bauta was Carnevale's most popular disguise.
The cobalt-blue mark found on the pieces was used by the Venetian ceramic factory Agostinelli-Dal Pra from 1887 to 1952. Hand-written under glaze, it often appears with an "A" on one side of the line and a "D" on the other. "Made in Italy" has been used since 1921. Antique, 10-inch high, cream ware Carnevale figures sold last year for $350 each while many 20th-century replicas can be purchased for $125 to $150.
Question: A recent accident resulted in breaking the bowl of a two-piece Victorian majolica plant stand. The 3-foot high stand, purchased for $300 in 1975, bears the mark "T F & S Ld England." Information about this piece and its possible repair is appreciated. - J.M., Cologne
Answer: In 1877, Thomas Forester founded a small pottery in Longton, Staffordshire England. Buildings comprising his Phoenix Works factory were added by 1879 and in 1883 his sons joined the company newly registered as Thomas Forester & Sons, Ltd. Although "T.F. & S Ld" is found on some items made from 1891 to 1912, I was not able to discover any that included "England." How-ever, "Made in England" appears from 1925 onwards. The factory closed in 1959.
Thomas Forester and Sons produced moderately priced utilitarian and ornamental porcelain and earthenware items including jugs, flower pots, teapots, baskets, toy dishes, jardinieres and cornucopias for retail and export markets. Coloring, glaze and floral decoration associated with the firm's "Pompadour" majolica, made it especially popular.
Since the bottom half of a Forester plant stand fetched $475 at a 2011 auction, repairing your bowl might be worth consideration. If so, H.A. Eberhardt & Son Inc., 2010 Walnut Street, Phila. is a restoration studio that has been repairing and restoring ceramic ware since its founding by the current owner's grandfather in 1888. For information, call 215-568-4144 or visit the Eberhardt website at eberhardts.com
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.