Question: Among some things we inherited when a friend died is a white ceramic, hourglass shape item about 14 inches high. Reddish-brown “Drink HIRES it is pure” is printed on the object’s front and it is topped with a nickel plunger pump. Anything you can tell us about it is appreciated. — E.P., Brigantine
Answer: Your piece is a Hires root beer syrup dispenser used to concoct individual servings of Hires root beer at soda fountains from the late 1800s through the first quarter of the 20th century.
Invented by Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires (1851-1937) as a sassafras-based tea combined with 15 other wild roots and berries, root beer was initially considered a medicinal tonic and later advertised as a wholesome temperance drink. Hires root beer was introduced at Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition in 1876.
The Hires product originally was sold as dry ingredients in 25-cent, do-it-yourself packets that made gallons of root beer when water, sugar and yeast were added. By 1884, the drink was sold as a beverage at pharmacy fountains and offered in stoneware bottles from the early 1890s. Soon, Hires became the world’s largest maker of root beer, with impressive Philadelphia headquarters and factory buildings.
Popular Hires collectibles include trade cards, mugs, signs, thermometers, advertisements, belt buckles, penknives, cigarette lighters and mirrors.
During 2016 and 2017, Hires syrup dispensers like yours sold for $200 to $650, based on condition.
Question: Last summer, I bought a box of Cherry Blossom pattern Depression glass at a yard sale. All the pieces, marked with a “J” inside a square, are green and pink except one, a round, covered, cobalt blue butter dish. Someone suggested that the butter dish may be very valuable, and I would like information about my purchase and its maker. — W.G., Egg Harbor Township
Answer: The mark on your pink and green dishes is that of the Jeannette Glass Co., located in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, from 1888 until 1983. Both town and factory were named by the firm’s owner, H. Sellers McKee (1834-1924) to honor his wife, Jeannette.
Originally a bottle maker, Jeanette Glass Co. became one of the major producers of pressed Depression glass kitchenware and dinnerware from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s. Jeannette’s popular 1930s allover leaf and fruit Cherry Blossom pattern, offered in pink and green, was not produced in cobalt blue.
During the early 1970s, reproductions of favorite original Depression glass patterns began appearing at flea markets, antiques and collectibles shows and in shops. Widely copied by glassmakers in China, Japan and Taiwan, and often marked with the logo of an important American glass company, the bogus pieces eventually appeared at online auctions.
In addition to Jeannette’s covered butter dish, some other cobalt blue Cherry Blossom fakes include a 3-footed cake plate, salt and pepper shakers, toy dishes and a two-handled sandwich tray,
Reproduced Cherry Blossom items are identified as thick and heavy with surfaces that feel oily as well as decoration that is imperfect and poorly shaped. Examples honestly described can be purchased for less than $10.
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.