Question: Please tell me about the object in my photo. It is 1 1/4 inches wide, 1 inch high, marked "sterling" and an oval, red-orange stone with a carved script "A" is set in the bottom. It was my great-grandfather's and was worn as a pendant by my grandmother, but the loop at its top now is missing. - M.B., Mays Landing

Answer: From the late 1700s into the 20th century, gentlemen's watches attached to a chain were carried in a small trouser pocket located just below the waist. Frequently suspended from the chain, which hung outside the pocket, was jewelry originally known as a fob seal and later a fob.

Your cast silver, circa 1890-1905 Edwardian heirloom, featuring an elaborate scroll design found on earlier Georgian era jewelry, is a functional fob seal. Its incised carnelian stone replicates the device used on older fob seals to identify the author of a letter or document.

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Such a signet originally stamped the impression of an image or initials onto wax used to seal such papers. By the late 19th century, most watch fobs were ornamental jewelry hanging from watch chains worn with gentlemen's evening wear.

Antique fob seals and ornamental fobs are quite collectible and often worn as charms on bracelets. Prices of sterling Edwardian fob seals range from $50 to $100 based on condition, design, silver weight and stone enhancement. Examples featuring gemstones set in gold frequently sell for many hundreds of dollars.

Question: I have a 30- by 40-inch painting, "The Young American," by John Stobart. Information about the artist and the painting's possible value and sale would be appreciated. - V.C., Ocean City

Answer: Born in 1929, Englishman John Stobart began studying art in 1946 and several years later started to paint new cargo-passenger vessels docked in exotic ports. His art soon attracted owners of shipping companies who commissioned original paintings of their vessels for display in their board rooms.

By 1965, Stobart's popular portrayals of American harbor scenes featuring period clipper ships were being purchased for private collections throughout the United States. In 1976, Stobart established his art printing company, Maritime Heritage Prints, and a decade later E.P. Dutton published his illustrated book, "STOBART, The Rediscovery of America's Maritime Heritage."

Since 1987, Stobart's subjects have included historic American ports as well as contemporary outdoor scenes. Recent prices paid for his signed oil on canvas paintings include $10,000 for a 30- by 40-inch "The Thames and Hamilton House" and $22,000 for the 1968 10- by 14-inch "Sketch of Merritt's Wharf, New Bedford."

If your painting is an original, signed Stobart oil on canvas, you may want to contact Newman Galleries located in Philadelphia at 215-563-1779 regarding its value and sale or Freeman's, a well known Philadelphia appraisal and auction house at

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.

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